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This article is taken from PN Review 151, Volume 29 Number 5, May - June 2003.

Memory Language Stephen Raw

A Book of Remembrance (detail)
'A Book of Remembrance' (detail)


Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
Southampton Row
London WC1

12 - 31 May 2003

Memory Language

North Uist Diary (detail)Personal and public memories are recorded in a variety of ways. This exhibition focuses on just one of those ways: language. Using words, some of them contemporary, some centuries old, the artist makes language visible in the imagery (shape, colour, scale) of personal letterforms which are painted or drawn.

No two people share the same collection of memories. A personal memory-bank is as unique to the individual as his or her DNA profile. We record - or 'keep' - memories in a number of ways, one of which is by the use of written language. My work uses words not as a novelist might, but rather as an aide-memoire to trigger 'rememberings', both of a personal nature and those too of a shared, public experience, for example memories of a specific war.

As I experiment with making language visible, I explore the gestural abstraction of the imagery of letterforms themselves. This reflects the manner in which writing is itself an abstraction from spoken language. Just as memory by its nature abstracts from experience, so letterforms abstract ...

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