studio catherine griffiths


Suggestions, David Bennewith

Locating Our Feet

by Catherine Griffiths


“It is typography – letterforms, their combination and sequences — that carries the weight of meaning into our lives. Considered typography must fill that space between content and its audience.”

TypeSHED11’s aim is to raise awareness of typography’s role – socially, politically and culturally. It provides a framework for content, where typography is the thread, leaving ground for the 300 practitioners, students, academics and theorists to take hold and use this opportunity as a forum to tease out ideas and critical thought, and to participate in rigorous debate and dialogue.

“Typography as both art and profession,” observes design consultant, Ray Labone, “has undergone immense change in approach and application in the past 50 years, and is currently going through a phase of democratisation and intense technology and new media-driven transformation. As an art form, it is a media capable of lending voice to powerful ideas. As a communication form, it is often poorly understood and interpreted.” Some of the world’s key figures in design and typography, along with some not-so-well-known, are coming to New Zealand to mix with New Zealanders, where serendipity will occur and the unexpected will happen. At least, that’s what TypeSHED11 intends – it is a unique prospect to be exposed to good minds for anyone with a fundamental interest in typography.

TypeSHED11 is New Zealand’s first-ever international typography symposium (Wellington, 11–15 February 2009), aimed at graphic design, advertising, photography, film, literature, architecture, music and the visual arts.

Described as a “relevant and mind-expanding opportunity” by Tina Barton, director of Victoria University of Wellington's Adam Art Gallery, the concept of TypeSHED11 demonstrates the “fundamental fact that we live in a designed world”. Barton recalls a comment by New Zealand type designer Kris Sowersby: “We consume type possibly more than any other medium in our daily lives – without the plethora of designed texts that surround us, we would most definitely lose our bearings.”

A case in point – Bruno Maag, a speaker at the symposium, of Dalton Maag, the London-based type specialists, was responsible for the design of Latin and Arabic scripts for signage through metro stations in Dubai. Maag’s goal for TransportDubai was to create a “considered and harmonious design that respects both script cultures. Both were developed in parallel to ensure that neither exerts undue influence over the other.” Then you figure that disorientation, losing your bearings, is an experience, too, when letterforms and word-sounds jar.

I read a blog the other day by a young New Zealand-based San Francisco designer, who not only complained about TypeSHED11’s pricing, but also expressed her irritation at the (not uncommon) mispronunciation of the surname of the great US artist and typographer, Ed Ruscha, at a recent design forum in Wellington. Her brief moment of displacement, as a foreigner on foreign soil, snapped to grid, hearing a Kiwi misrepresent an element of her culture.

Displacement through words and sounds is evident as well, in Vincent O’Sullivan’s text sculpture from the Wellington Writers Walk — an excerpt from Driving South with Lucy to the Big Blue Hills:

Then it’s Wellington we’re coming to!
It’s time, she says, It’s time surely
for us to change lanes, change tongues;
they speak so differently down here.

And that’s just on the road between Auckland and Wellington.

It is typography – letterforms, their combination and sequences — that carries the weight of meaning into our lives. Considered typography must fill that space between content and its audience.

As New Zealand works to locate its typographic feet, TypeSHED11 plans to be an infusion of informed commentary to fire up a sense of purpose and expression.

Catherine Griffiths / 2008


04 writing & critique


An installation on an installation on an installation ...
Artist statement, »catherine griffiths : SOLO IN [ ] SPACE« A documentation, Pocca, CHINA
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Architectural Centre, NZ
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FF ThreeSix
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Typographica, Mar 2013

A note on the D-card
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Apr 2013

Shes Got Legs
by Lee Suckling
Urbis, NZ, Jan 2013

Truly, No Idea
by Catherine Griffiths
for Flash Forward, Desktop, Australia, Nov 2012

Look for the purple lining
by Catherine Griffiths
Eye Blog, UK, Mar 2012

The Big Idea, NZ, Jun 2011

Shots in the air
by Catherine Griffiths
Eye Blog, UK, Jan 2011

John & Eye
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign 110, NZ, Jan 2011

Quite a Blast
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign, NZ, Jan 2011

Inner-City Modality
by Mercedes Vicente
ProDesign, NZ, Aug 2010

Beautiful World of Typography
by Catherine Griffiths
excerpt from a talk, Govett-Brewster Gallery, NZ, Jun 2009

For the record
by Catherine Griffiths
Introduction to TypeSHED11, NZ, Feb 2009

Locating Our Feet
by Catherine Griffiths
Threaded, NZ, Oct 2008

Notes on Feijoa
by Catherine Griffiths
ProDesign, NZ, Apr 2007

Life in Italics
by Helen Walters
Print, New York, Sep-Oct 2006

Writing by Types
by Justine Clark
Artichoke, Australia, Apr 2003

Locating Our Feet

by Catherine Griffiths

Threaded Magazine, New Zealand, October 2008

related links

Wellington Writers Walk


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