studio catherine griffiths


A—Z, 1—10 Catherine Griffiths, 1984

Shots in the air
Just 36 frames for a (typo) exercise in photographic restraint


Back in 1984, before Wellington Polytechnic had computers, Visual Communication Design students spent big on course materials. One tool our tutors encouraged us to buy was an SLR camera, analogue then — either that, or borrow a school one for which there was a queue. Somehow, I scraped together enough for a Ricoh, a leap on from my Kodak Instamatic and its small, square format, prints with rounded corners.

The camera (and the darkroom processes in league with it), we discovered, was especially useful — photography brought to light new ways of seeing, and unexpectedly introduced us to other expressive disciplines — in this case, Lettering and Typography.

It’s a clear memory, being briefed in class, one sharp Spring morning, to photograph the alphabet A-Z, followed by numbers 1-10. We loaded up our cameras, each with a roll of 35mm black and white Ilford film, 36 frames (not 24), and headed into the fresh air to go looking. Seemed a simple task, erring on the side of boring, we thought. Good excuse for a percolated coffee downtown at Suzy’s. But, there was a catch. We were to shoot a sequence accounting for the way the six negative strips of six frames would be set out in the easel and printed as a standard 8x10 proof sheet (portrait format), reading A-Z, 1-10, left to right, top to bottom.

Spotting a nifty ‘W’ on a red bus (the Wellington transport logo), when actually I needed a ‘B’, called for restraint over impulse — the shutter was tantalising. But no screw ups, one film only. No chance to review, delete or cheat. This was a real-time wander around a small city of letters and numbers — a serendipitous composition of forms and figures on film in the dark of a camera, idiosynchratic records from the mind’s eye, of a time and place.


Catherine Griffiths, Eye Blog, January 20th, 2011


04 writing & critique


An installation on an installation on an installation ...
Artist statement, »catherine griffiths : SOLO IN [ ] SPACE« A documentation, Pocca, CHINA
September 2021

Porto Design Summer School 2017
Looking back on the fifth edition
April 2018

Notes from ‘Designing the perfect photobook’
A short talk as part of a panel discussion, PhotobookNZ
March 2016

A meditation
Sir Ian Athfield, 1940 — 2015
by Catherine Griffiths
Architectural Centre, NZ
April 2015

The Design Kids interview
The Design Kids, Jul 2015

A Playlist : CG >> CG
by Catherine Griffiths
DPAG Late Breakfast Show, NZ, Aug 2014

Body, Mind, Somehow: The Text Art of Catherine Griffiths
by Gregory O’Brien
Art New Zealand #150, NZ, 2014

Nothing in Mind
by Chloe Geoghegan
typ gr ph c, Aug 2014

typ gr ph c in Strips Club
by Catherine Griffiths
Strips Club journal, Mar 2014

In the Neighbourhood
by Catherine Griffiths
Desktop #294, Australia, 2013

Interview by Heath Killen
Desktop #294, Australia, 2013

FF ThreeSix
by Catherine Griffiths
Typographica, Mar 2013

A note on the D-card
by Catherine Griffiths
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

Shots in the air

by Catherine Griffiths

Eye Blog, Jan 20, 2011

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