Modern day designers invite people to look at Norwich‘s centuries-old literary treasures in a new light
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Literary treasures of the past have inspired some thought-provoking 21st century designs for a special exhibition being presented at the Norfolk Heritage Centre this Saturday.
The centuries-old books will be displayed alongside the modern day art created by members of Norwich's design community at the exhibition called New Impressions: Redesigning Norwich's Renaissance Books.
It is the latest event to be organised by the Unlocking the Archive project which is led by academics in the University of East Anglia's School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing and aims to make the city's publicly-owned collection of Renaissance books at the Norfolk Heritage Centre more accessible to the whole community. Many of the books in this collection come from the Norwich City Library, originally founded in 1608, and the collection of Jeremiah James Colman and his descendants, and they provide an enthralling window into the past.
Dr Tom Roebuck, who is leading the project alongside Dr Matthew Woodcock and Dr Sophie Butler, said he was delighted with the great range of design work that the books have inspired.
'We hope the designs spark new ways of looking at the books, new ways of understanding them,' he said.
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'Everyone will have the chance to learn more about the Renaissance books themselves by discussing them with academics, and to discover how they've inspired Norfolk's designers today.'
Sixteen designers or design companies will have work featured in the exhibition.
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Darren Leader, a graphic designer and Norwich University of the Arts lecturer who oversaw the design side of the project, said: 'There are direct parallels with Renaissance book design and contemporary graphic design - you can see it with page composition and typography. All the things we learn have their roots in these books. What we were asking the designers to do was to go through the archive and make their own connections. They could work with the archive in general or a particular book.'
Some of the exhibition highlights:
• Darren Leader, from Darren Leader Studio, has explored the issue of fake news and what is perceived as fact in a modern take on Thomas Browne's 1672 book Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries Into Very Many Received Tenents And Commonly Presumed Truths.
• Mark Fuller, from Nicer than Nice, has taken maps from John Speed's 1611-12 book The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine and created designs showing how the coastline and place names have changed.
• Louise Richardson and Andy Campbell were also inspired by Speed's book and have created an intriguing work blurring the boundaries between the maps and landscape.
• Alfie and Edward Maddison, from Maddison Graphic, have created abstract new images by reimagining the architecture on the elaborate title page of Michel de Montaigne's The Essayes, a 1632 work on human thought.
• Scott Poulson, from Special Design Studio, has imagined how a 15th century reader would have reacted on social media to the 1493 text the Nuremberg Chronicle which looks at the history of the world.
It is hoped the designs will also be the focus of more exhibitions in the future.
New Impressions: Redesigning Norwich's Renaissance Books is at the Norfolk Heritage Centre, in Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at The Forum, on Saturday, November 25 from 10.30am to 4.30pm.
The event, sponsored by Page Bros Group, Fedrigoni and The Forum, is part the national festival of the humanities Being Human 2017. For more about Unlocking the Archive, follow @archiveunlocked on Twitter.