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Brighton, brightly

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Just five days after getting back from Japan, I was off to the UK for the 2007 ATypI conference in Brighton. The theme was “Hands on,” and the series of talks and workshops dovetailed nicely with that flexible idea. The nearby village of Ditchling, where Edward Johnston had lived and Eric Gill had established one of his utopian crafts communities, came up repeatedly in presentations and casual conversation; indeed, one of the pre-conference excursions was a day at Ditchling, although I was too busy with conference organizing and board meetings to get to it.

The kick-off on Thursday night was Looking for Mr Gill, a short film by Luke Holland about Gill’s reputation in Ditchling and his effect on the village. It’s a film that I think ought to get shown in the United States; I’m going to see what can be arranged in Seattle and San Francisco.

At the ATypI annual general meeting, I was elected president of ATypI. As I told a friend who asked what extra work and duties this illustrious post entailed: “The presidential palace, of course, and the Praetorian Guard. Potemkin villages built for my benefit, every time I tour the countryside. I don’t think there are any drawbacks, though they did say something about a little ceremony they do come harvest time…”

At the Saturday night “garden party,” we announced that next year’s conference will be held in St. Petersburg – Russia, that is, not Florida. Next year marks the 300th anniversary of the creation of the “Civil Type,” Peter the Great’s dramatic reform of the Cyrillic alphabet. Since St. Petersburg was founded by Peter to be his new capital and “window on Europe,” the conjunction of city and anniversary is especially appropriate.

[Photo: the kinetic Ken Garland, one of the principal speakers at the ATypI conference, spun on his heel just as I snapped the picture.]