Archived entries for spirituality & life

splash manifesto

‘towards a swimmers manifesto’ – by john w clarke with typography inspired by the blast! 1914 vorticist manifesto. this was a lot of fun to do, especially subduing some of my natural design instincts and throwing in a few typographic ‘mistakes’ to create the letterpress-in-a-hurry feel of the original.

you can pick up your copy at the sea swim exhibition documenting the project to date which is currently showing at woodend creative workspace, scarborough as part of coastival. the official opening is on saturday at 2pm.


scarborough’s own cultural olympiad project, seaswim, is sending poem postcards to outdoor swimming clubs around the country asking them to notice sights, sounds and textures when they swim. the aim is to write a collective poem from the responses.

look out for a seaswim exhibition as part of coastival and a series of beach hut artist residencies in summer, plus regular group swims of course.

laimonis mierins 1929-2011

i heard that my drawing tutor from leeds college of art days, ‘lem’ mierins, died just before christmas.

lem was a vital influence in our graphic design training although at the time we often questioned why we spent so much time life drawing and listening to lem’s eccentric and passionate take on the history of art when surely shouldn’t we be designing book covers or something? but now i get it. not only do i credit lem with instilling in me a confidence to just pick up a pencil or pen and attempt to draw anything, but he also taught us to appreciate the flow and movement of line.

the theory of drawing the same thing multiple times, learning with each stroke to eventually be able to produce exactly what you want with all the freshness of that first attempt is something i learned from lem and continues to influence my approach to typography as well drawing.

being a great teacher was only one aspect of lem. he was a noted abstract/pop painter and produced life drawings of great energetic beauty, all about the purity of line and a moment in time frozen with charcoal, graphite or ink. he would regularly remind us as to how good his large geometric paintings would look in the receptions to design agencies – my only regret at not having a reception with black leather sofas and scattered design magazines is that i never had an excuse to buy a mierins.

the last time i chatted with him was at his retrospective exhibition at cartwright hall gallery in bradford, fresh from the state gallery of fine art in latvia [you can download the gallery catalogue as a pdf here]. although clearly moved at his former pupils coming to view the show he quickly slipped back into character and although i may have imagined him actually cuffing me round the ear (a regular technique in his life drawing class), his parting words in thick latvian accent were “…and buy a bloody catalogue!”. which, of course, i did.

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