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You are here: Home / Events / Talk : John Neilson : Words in stone

Talk : John Neilson : Words in stone

TypeTalks April lecture given by John Neilson on the rich lettercarving traditions of Britain and a current practitioners perspective on the future of handcutting in the face of machined competition.
What Lettering
When Apr 16, 2015 from 04:30 PM to 06:30 PM

Registration opens 1730, talk commences 1800

Birmingham City University
P350 Lecture Theatre, Parkside Building
5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD

Book a free ticket here

John Neilson : Words in stone

People have carved stone inscriptions since the invention of written language. In more recent times Britain has had one of the richest lettercarving traditions in the western world, flourishing in the eighteenth century and then again in the twentieth in the wake of the pioneer Eric Gill. John Neilson will outline some of this historical context in the UK and continental Europe, and then illustrate what a present-day lettercarver gets up to with examples from his own work. Why, now that ready-designed fonts are available on everyone’s computer, and lettering can be quickly and accurately sandblasted or routed by machine, would anyone bother to design original lettering anew for every inscription, and laboriously carve it by hand? Even more perplexing, why would a client be willing to pay for this? John may suggest some answers. 

John Neilson has worked as a lettercarver and lettering designer in north Powys since 1992. After an initial career as a modern language teacher, he retrained in calligraphy and then learned lettercarving in stone as an assistant to Tom Perkins in Cambridgeshire. His work includes architectural lettering, memorials, signs, public art and other more sculptural pieces using carved texts. He works mostly in stone but occasionally in other materials such as wood and metal, and also does some typographical work. Larger commissions include the large 3-dimensional lettering on the front of the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh and a recent public work in Barry, south Wales, in conjunction with the poet Gillian Clarke. John teaches workshops in lettercarving and lettering design in the UK and abroad and is a member of Letter Exchange. He has edited the lettering journal Forum since 2003.  

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