26 writers and visual artists explore ‘the DNA of language’

Writers collective 26 has teamed up with artists to explore what it calls ‘the DNA of language’ in a new exhibition which looks to explore the meaning of words as a visual expression.

Jean by Andy Hayes and Charlotte Howarth
Jean by Andy Hayes and Charlotte Howarth

As you would expect, 26 writers were paired up with 26 visual artists, and then in a slightly ritualistic act, each pair together inserted a knife into a dictionary to select a word of each letter of the alphabet at random.

Sythic by writer Pete Kirby and artist Anna Parker
Sythic by writer Pete Kirby and artist Anna Parker

‘We call it a successful experiment in seeing how creativity can be released in a single word,’ says 26, which has ended up with a set of intriguing interpretations in 2D and 3D that consider things like etymology, definition, more abstract expressions, and of course what these things might look like.

Seeing as the dictionary is chock full of all kinds of wonderful archaic and scientific words unsurprisingly some of those came up.

Excusation by Stuart Delves and Robbie Schneider
Excusation by Stuart Delves and Robbie Schneider

Writer Stuart Delves and artist Robbie Schneider happened across ‘Excusation’ a way of expressing an excuse, defence, or apology. 

Calligrapher Rachel Yallop and writer Vivien Jones were faced with the scientific and slightly impenetrable Naviculoid.

Naviculoid by Vivien Jones and Rachel Yallop
Naviculoid by Vivien Jones and Rachel Yallop

Meanwhile lettering artist and calligrapher Cherrell Avery and advertising copywriter Will Awdry were given Acidulate, which means to make slightly acidic. 

Quite fortuitously Avery, who was at the time learning about acid etching, applied her new skills with the concept of ‘the acid test’ in mind and some words from Awdry to tie it all together.

Acidulate by Cherrell Avery and Will Awdry
Acidulate by Cherrell Avery and Will Awdry

26 Words will be exhibited at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1, from 26 November – 31 January 2014.

Latest articles