Grade Design adds poetry to British Library exhibition

An exhibition chronicling the life of writer and poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning will open at the British Library in London this week, with interiors and graphics by Grade Design Consultants.

How Do I Love Thee? commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Victorian writer and draws on the library’s collection of manuscripts, photographs and other memorabilia. Grade Design was approached directly by the British Library at the end of 2005 to work on the design, following the consultancy’s involvement in the library’s 26 Letters exhibition during the 2004 London Design Festival.

‘They wanted to move away from a fusty Victorian approach to something more contemporary, so we have a lot of bright colours in the graphics/ pinks, yellows and Day-Glo colours and illustrative silhouettes,’ says Grade Design creative director Peter Dawson.

At the centrepiece of the exhibition will be a 21m display wall, charting Barrett Browning’s life, from her childhood in Herefordshire, to her five-year depression in London and her subsequent move to Italy, as a newly-wed, with poet Robert Browning in 1846.

In Italy, she became a writer on a number of social issues of the period. ‘The idea of presenting the wall from dark to light came from her transition from depression to a new life in Italy,’ adds Dawson.

The exhibition runs until 5 April and will be located in the British Library Entrance Hall, which is approximately 100m2 in area. The illustration graphics, inspired by source material from the library’s collection, will wrap around the display cases and walls of the space.

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