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Dublin & Birmingham, Nov. 2009

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Last month I went to Dublin, and to Birmingham and London in the UK – so soon after returning from Typ09 in Mexico that it felt as though I was just visiting this interesting city called “Seattle” for a brief time. The main purpose of the trip was to check out venues and talk to organizers for next year’s ATypI conference in Dublin, but the timing was occasioned by my being invited to speak at the one-day Typographic Horizons conference in Birmingham (and incidentally to stay an extra day and address the Chitterlings typographers’ dinner). We flew into and out of London, so we had a chance to see a small sampling of our friends in London, too.

Typographic Horizons was a small but enthusiastic conference, bringing together some of the energy of Birmingham’s design community. Caroline Archer and Alexandre Parré, and the hosts at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, have ambitions to make Birmingham a design center. London, of course, is the metropolis, but second-city Birmingham actually finds it easier to attract people from around the country, including London, according to Caroline. And besides, it’s got three-foot-high stone statues of John Baskerville’s punches.

Dublin Castle is a remarkable venue, well set up for conferences of all kinds; and Dublin is a delightful city. We certainly enjoyed the Guinness (“the wine of the country,” as James Joyce called it) and the comfortable pubs that served it. Clare Bell and Mary Ann Bolger, the principal organizers of next year’s conference, were well organized and cheerful hosts; so were their colleagues at the Dublin Institute of Technology, which will be hosting the conference. We saw only a small bit of the city, but enough to be sure that it will be a good site for ATypI; Irish culture is so intimately tied up with literature that naturally the theme of the conference is going to be “The Word.” On the last day, before Mary Ann headed off to the picket lines for a one-day public-service strike, we managed to see the National Print Museum, which is full of presses, type, and printing artifacts of all kinds, as well as printed matter, including one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 proclamation of the Irish Republic.

I’ve posted a few photos from the trip on Flickr. This is just a taste; I took lots of shots of the interior spaces of Dublin Castle, but most of them will only be of interest to the organizers. You’ll see them all – the spaces, that is – when you show up next September for the conference.

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