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Writing Britain

Our task was to convey the layers of messages about this complex and fascinating literary exhibition in a simple, poweful and engaging visual language.

This is the major exhibition by the British Library in the Olympic year, an opportunity to display important loans and key items from the collection in an innovative and thought provoking way. Working with the exhibition's curator, Head of English and Drama, Jamie Andrews, our first task was to listen; he was drawing a thousand years of British literature into a single narrative thread, telling the stories of how landscape has shaped literature and how, in turn, that literature has shaped our relationship with our landscapes.

Our solution was to find evocative quotes and marry them with visual references that are visual cues to our collective memory. We presented three routes that touched upon different aspects of the exhibition. Each route provides a different visual palette and context, allowing the marketing team to match specifc routes to suit the placement of advertsing and other materials.

The importance of the title design and information lock-up should not be under-estimated. We worked hard to craft the hierarchies of information in a clear and visually uncluttered form. This element and its styling have been adopted through a wide range of outputs, signage and merchandise.

British Library : Writing Britain - Tolkein poster

A portrait of Ocky Murray, in black and white

Our biggest challenge was being able to sum up the wide-ranging, complex narrative into simple captivating  messages, easy enough to understand whilst walking past a poster, engaging enough to make a sustainable campaign and provoke further thought, investigation and booking.

Ocky Murray
Poster for Writing Britain exhibition, featuring a moorland landscape overlaid with the words Not all those who wander are lost.
Poster for Writing Britain exhibition, featuring a painting of a factory, silhouetted by fire, overlaid with the words And was Jerusalem builded here among these dark satanic mills.
Poster for Writing Britain exhibition, featuring a photograph of a modern housing estate overlaid with the words The suburbs dream of violence.

British Library : Writing Britain - Ballard poster

We created three poster designs and delivered the creative elements of the campaign, including the title treatment, typography, and imagery to the client's in-house design team.

British Library : Writing Britain - Tube poster

A portrait of Michael Smith, in black and white

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of project was having to seek permission from the Tolkein estate to use his quote. They were very accommodating although we did have to make some small, pragmatic adjustments to the typography.

Michael Smith
Poster in London underground station, a blurry figure of a commuter
A man in a trilby hat walking past a large London underground poster.
Billboard with blue sky behind
Poster case, containing posters for the British Library exhibition, Writing Britain
Illuminated posters, marking the entrance to the British Library exhibition, Writing Britain
Broad, landscape posters, advertising the British Library exhibition, Writing Britain
Book covers in a row
A soft toy doll of Shakespeare, with a Writing Britain tag

5 slideshow images (click image to view)

British Library : Writing Britain - slideshow

We worked with the British Library's in-house design team to provide the tools they needed. They've done a great job of interpretting the designs across a range of media.

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