Archive for the ‘dante’ Category

blogging the blog

April 16, 2017

Eye magazine recently uploaded a post about Barrie’s Typographic Dante.

The piece talks about the starting point for the project – which began when he was a final year student at the Chelsea School of Art, way back in 1989.

The first roughs and preparatory sketches for Canto I.

Planning the Letterpress overprints in detail.

The original ‘note to self’, which led to a project that has carried on over the next 28 years (and counting).

The Typographic Dante is on display at the National Museum of Print, Dublin, until Wednesday 19th April and the exhibition has recently been reviewed by


dante in private

February 15, 2017

Brenda Dermody at the Typographic Dante

The Private View for the Typographic Dante took place at Dublin’s National Print Museum last Thursday.

Brenda Dermody is a graphic designer, and design educator with an interest in typography, she represents Ireland on the education team of the International Society of Typographic Designers. Brenda was instrumental in bringing the show to the Museum and spoke about Barrie’s career and the stories behind the work on display.

Dermody Folder


Brenda Dermody’s beautiful set of poster designs based on on the Dante prints.
Dermody Folders
Dermody Folder Red
The work looked wonderful in the setting of the gallery space and quickly drew people in to Dante’s journey.
Dante Looking 1
Dante Looking 5
Dante Looking 3
Dante Looking 4
Again, a huge thank you to Carla and her team for putting on such a wonderful exhibition of the work.
Photos courtesy of Mark Henderson.


June 16, 2014

Barrie has finally got back into his studio – after several months of being too busy with that teaching lark (and writing a paper for his first symposium appearance), he’s dusted off his A3 Olivetti and started making art again. The push that he needed came partly through jealousy –  he’d been helping Jantze with her rather beautiful concertina books — and partly through the joys and delights of travelling; he has been off in Reading and Banbury external assessing, so those long train journeys from Lincoln gave him a little thinking and drawing time.

He’s returned to Purgatory (no pun intended) and begun working on the remaining Cantos. The research for the Typewriter Art book has been wonderfully liberating – to see what a great variety of work there is out there has really made him think about the possibilities that are available for his own responses to the verses… but of course the downside is, that there are so many beautiful, articulate and creative pieces of typewriter art out there (and he’s discovering new works and new artists all the time), how do you place your own practice within that? How do you compete or compare to all those people?

His ideas for this Cant0 (XIII; The Sin of Pride) were initially very complex and quite illustrative. After a great deal of thinking and ‘thinking with a pencil’, he’s ended up with a piece of work which is at the exact opposite of the spectrum. More Kolář  than Rathbone.

Although he’s cautiously happy with this solution, he wonders if he’d have been happier if he’d arrived at it through making, realising and discarding finished pieces, rather than leaving the unused ideas as sketches in a rough book. Perhaps he feels he should have gone through the creative fire rather than skirted around the edge of it and then sat down for about thirty seconds in order to make the illustration. Although you could argue (and no doubt he will), that this is the distillation of 30 years of typographic thinking and training. And he changed the ribbon from Back & Red to Purple. That’s got to count as part of the creative struggle…

The texts for Purgatory aren’t anywhere near the visual/graphic ‘treats’ of The Inferno, but this Canto does have a particularly potent image:

Canto XIII; The Sin of Pride
Just as the blind cannot enjoy the sun,
     so, to the shades I saw before me here,
     the light of Heaven denies its radiance:

the eyelids of these shades had been sewn shut
     with iron threads, like falcons newly caught,
     whose eyes we stitch to tame their restlessness.


And this led to a very, very simple graphic solution.

Canto XIII. The Sin of Envy