On the occasion of the Object Matters: Making 1916 conference, a special limited edition poster was designed by Clare Bell (lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology) and Mary Plunkett (designer-in-residence at the National College of Art and Design) and printed by them with Sean Sills at Distillers Press, the letterpress studio at the National College of Art and Design.
Created with technologies in use in 1916– wood-block type and letterpress – the poster uses the visual vernacular of the time to suggest the era without veering into pastiche. It also speaks of the contingency inherent in the creation of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence that declared the Irish Republic. This was hurriedly created on the eve of the Rising, printed in secret and dangerous circumstances, and marked by improvisation. Similarly, Bell and Plunkett had to make do when they ran out of type and had to ad-lib, making letters such as an upper-case ‘I’ created from two pieces of lead rule set upright.
Suggestive of news headlines, the designers have found poetry in the titles of the academic papers to be delivered at the conference: ‘Lost city of the archipelago’ sidles up to ‘Typographic ghosts of 1916’, communicating the weird juxtapositions of the modern media age.
The poster is printed on two different stocks – newsprint to generally advertise the conference, and 155gsm Mellotex for the limited edition. The newsprint version is in black ink and printed off-centre, emphasising the immediacy of the message via the conditions of its production. The edition is in black and gold split duct, the movement from full gold in the header ‘Making 1916’ to black in the final lines suggestive of the shift from ordinariness to ceremony and in part a nod to the Irish lettering artist and stone carver Michael Biggs, who created the celebrated lettering on Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance. The poster proudly bears the marks of its making – the impression of the type and the grain of the wood-block is evident. Advertising and celebrating a conference on the spaces, objects and architecture of the 1916 Rising, the design and materiality of the poster communicates the importance of addressing the material culture of the past not in a reverie of imitation but in fresh, creative ways.
The limited edition poster will be available to purchase at the conference, and afterwards. For further details, please contact the conference organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org