Friday, 27 March 2009

Marching On

Second term is over, so today I’ll move back to Italy for three weeks of work and research for the dissertation. Yeah, and the Easter break, although it won’t be much of a break because of the aforementioned things, of course.

So where did the past month go, anyway? I left you at the end of February and it was all fuzzy. March wasn’t much better, and I anticipate April and May to be even worse (or better, depending on the way you look at it). But let’s make a brief recap.

Tarte du Citron

I started the month with arguably one of the best moments in Reading so far – at least for me. As you probably know by now I have a very keen interest in Renaissance typography, and in particular on the types cut for Aldo Manuzio by Francesco Griffo da Bologna. One of my classmates, Eben Sorkin, is also doing some research on Reinassance typefaces, and while talking about it after class with James Mosley he mentioned the British Library had not one, but four copies of the De Aetna printed by Aldus in 1496. James kindly agreed to visit the British Library with us to make a comparison of the four copies, so we had a wonderful day at the beginning of March. Not only we saw the stuff, but we also got to try the now famous pastries of the Belle Époque on Newington Green. I’m not going to embarass James any further in this post, but I just wanted to thank him (and Gillian, of course!) once again for the amazing day. To top it off, we ended up in a very nice japanese restaurant. Needless to say, I was more than happy:

me happy

Before going I also did a little bit of an excercise with Eben: we met at the department with some pictures I shot of the copy of the De Aetna that’s in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena, and started redrawing some of the glyphs. We didn’t have any sort of revival in mind, we just wanted to get a better feel for what we were going to see at the British Library. Here are some of my sketches, which I digitised while discussing the shapes with Eben to see if I understood them correctly:

my sketches for the De Aetna roman

my digitised drawings from the De Aetna roman

All that was followed by the four days in the Netherlands for the Robothon conference. I’m not going to write much about it because other people have done so much better (read accounts by Reading graduates Rob Keller and Dan Reynolds or view the presentations from the conference). Den Haag was amazing and Robothon even more so. I’m looking forward to go back there on our MATD trip to the low countries, towards the end of May. Hot on the heels of Robothon we had a visit to the department by Tobias Frere-Jones, pictured here by Claus giving some feedback my practical project:

Tobias Frere-Jones

(The thing he holds in his hands is an iRex Iliad, which I have here with me in Reading so I could test typefaces on).

We also had some more visits from Gerard Unger, two workshops with Victor Gaultney (one about Cyrillic and the other about italic), another workshop with Fiona about south indian scripts and a slew of “interim reviews of practical work” – which are essentially crit sessions on our typefaces – with Gerry. Meanwhile spring came early to Reading and I started going for long walks across the town, and especially by the Thames. As much as I used to complain about the city during winter, I have to say Reading now looks really good, and I think it’s only going to get better now that I know all the nice parks around the town! Two weeks ago I also had a visit from some friends from Italy, who fed me like I was in some sort of exile. We had a lovely time!

Narri in Reading

So that’s it, I really need to go back and pack my stuff now!


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