Art in Ditchling not to be missed

Two of the most dynamic and original events in the latest edition of Artists’ Open Houses can be found in the small village of Ditchling.

The Village of Type coincides with Artists’ Open Houses (30 April – 30 May) and both events are set to turn the Ditchling Trail into an attraction not to be missed during May’s edition of the Artists’ Open Houses festival.

The largest festival of its kind in the UK, Artists’ Open Houses takes place twice a year.

The May 2016 edition of Artists’ Open Houses features 14 trails, encompassing locations in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas.

Art in Ditchling is one of the satellite trails, where visitors can encounter artists and their work in an historic village setting nestled beneath the South Downs.

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has introduced an exciting new angle to Art in Ditchling this May.

Its Artists’ Open Houses will have a distinctly typographical feel as a result of featuring in the museum’s Village of Type programme.

The Jointure Studios on South Street is hosting the open submission exhibition Interrobang, showcasing letterpress prints by artists from around the world, each carefully selected by a panel of typographers and designers.

The former studios of artist Sir Frank Brangwyn provide a beautiful backdrop for their work.

Visitors to Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft during Saturdays in May will also be able to see a demonstration of the skills of the Interrobang artists. Their letterpress designs will be brought to life using the museum’s historical Stanhope press.

A further unprecedented addition to the Ditchling Trail is the British Council’s first inbound international residency, supported by London’s Polish Cultural Institute.

The Blue Shed is housing the temporary studio of typographer Viktoriya Grabowska, who has travelled from Poznań in Poland for her residency in Ditchling.

Visitors will be able to drop into her studio for free and gain a unique insight into Grabowska’s work and to discuss her training, influences and experiences.

Visitors to the village will also be greeted by an extraordinary sight; giant letters sprayed freehand onto selected buildings by typographical wizard Gary Stranger, spelling out the word TYPE.

This is to mark the centenary of one of Ditchling’s most famous contributions to typography – Edward Johnston’s typeface for London Underground.

It is the focus of the latest main exhibition ‘Underground: 100 Years of Edward Johnston’s Lettering for London’ (12 March – 11 September 2016) at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.

Known variously as Underground or Johnston Sans, this hand drawn alphabet, at once simple and elegant, has barely changed in the last 100 years.

It is also the basis on which Eric Gill, one of Johnston’s pupils at Central School of Arts & Crafts, designed Gill Sans; a typeface still in popular use today.

The exhibition features original drawings for Gill Sans, rarely seen working drawings for the Underground typeface, and manuscripts showing Johnston’s development as a calligrapher.

A secondary exhibition of historic signs from Ditchling, explores the village’s tradition of signwriting and hand cut lettering from 1800 to the present day.

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft also plays host to sign writing work by the acclaimed protest artist, and Royal Academician, known as Bob & Roberta Smith.

Why do we communicate? is the question confronted by his signs, encouraging thought on the subject as they tower above visitors in the building’s tallest display case.

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