We were about to commit our 1970 edition of the complete Children's Britannica to the charity shop as we had deemed it to be outdated knowledge...how foolish we were. Upon closer inspection the wealth of images and illustrations coupled with the inspirational content got me thinking and a concept was born.
I think that there are two purposes to this post; one being that all knowledge is key and it is wrong to consider throwing things away; two creation on an alternative ABC of images.
Through looking about and having my own children I know that alphabet books, posters and images are geared towards children and they have classic and common themes. I love the Charley Harper ABC books and poster as the images are classic with the twist of modernism and minimalism. Charley once said 'I don't think there was much resistance to the way I simplified things. I think everybody understood that. Some people liked it and others didn't care for it. There's some who want to count all the feathers in the wings and then others who never think about counting the feathers, like me.'
I think that the style of Charley Harper resonates with me and his take on the alternative representation of the alphabet is part of my inspiration for my project along with the Encyclopedia Britannica.
These images that I found in Volumes 5 and 6 really grabbed me as they really could be transferred directly onto a lino block however I am not just wanting to copy what has been done before! I have a real interest in mid-century design and have a very small collection of memorabilia from the 'Festival of Britain', so I want my project to reflect the style.
It is strange to me blogging about something that I haven't done yet but if I write about it then it will spur me on to start it as I am a bit of a procrastinator!!
So the plan for the project is to create 26 images 20 cm by 15 cm that each depict a representation that relates to each letter of the alphabet. I am not going to do the lettering in lino print as I plan to stamp the letters underneath the image.
I spent a leisurely Saturday afternoon in front of the fire meticulously going through each of the volumes studying the images and the content while all the time compiling inspiration for the alternative alphabet.
There are things within the volumes that were no longer relevant or factually or politically acceptable as you would expect from 1970 but so much information and a wealth of images that remain relevant.
So here are some ideas for the alternative alphabet:
A = amoeba, antibiotics, aurora, algae.
B = beekeeping, blueprint, Blennie.
C = compass, cyclops, clover, cuttlefish, caravan, canterbury bell, cabbage.
D = darts, deathwatch beetle, delphinium.
E = eye, egg, emu, English history.
F = flying fish, flour, flee, fingerprint.
G = goat, gargoyle, green man, gate, gears.
H = heraldry, hot air balloon.
I = ice, iris.
J = jam, John Dory, Jellyfish.
K = knots, kaleidoscope.
L = lock, linocut, limpet, laundry, light, lichen, lantern fish.
M = milk, marble, map, maize, moth, mushrooms,
N = nautilus, neon, nuts.
O = optical illusion, octopus, oyster.
P = pomegranate, periscope, pendulum, printing.
Q = quoits, quince.
R = recorder, reels (film).
S = shopfront, scissors, science fiction, sweets, sail, sponge.
T = toad, toadstools, textiles, tyre tracks, typewriter.
U = umbrella, underground.
V = volcano, vegetables.
W = window, weight, wildflowers, walrus.
X = X-ray, xylophone.
Y = Yo-Yo, Yorkshire.
Z = Zeplin, Zinnia.
My challenge is going to be creating the images and collating them in a whole collection. I am at this moment thinking that I would like to do an exhibition or an open studio to share my project so it gives me the completion date of August for this 'A-Z Alternatives'.