Week 5 Lecture & Resources
Thoughts on Resources & Lecture
A selection of colourful designs by Morag Myerscough are shown above. I love how her playful work seems to leap off the page with its vivid, whimsical shapes and bright colours. I was interested to hear about her experience of working with Sheffield Children’s Hospital and how improving spaces in a hospital environment can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, blood pressure and pain intensity. She also talked about how using art and creating a positive environment for patients can reduce the need for medication as well as having the potential to improve mental health.
Making a medical setting less scary for children and creating a more welcoming environment sounded like a complex, but worthwhile process, where she worked closely with children’s hospital charity Artfelt. As their website states: “Artfelt transforms the hospital’s walls and spaces with bright art, helping children recover in an environment tailored to them. The programme also puts on workshops for youngsters to provide distraction during anxious moments – such as before an operation, and to break up long stays on the wards.”
Taking the needs and concerns of all stakeholders involved (including staff, parents and children) into consideration was extremely critical to the project’s success.
Robert Smail’s Printing Works x Paper Tiger
I thought this was an interesting and mutually beneficial collaboration between a small Edinburgh-based independent stationery business, Paper Tiger, and Robert Smail’s Printing Works. They worked together to develop an exclusive range of letterpress greeting cards to mark Paper Tiger’s 40th anniversary. The designs were created using historical typefaces from Smail’s extensive collection and printed on an original 1953 Heidelberg Press (available online here).
Robert Smail’s Printing Works, established in the 1800s, is the oldest working commercial letterpress printers in the UK, run by the National Trust for Scotland as a museum, showcasing Victorian-era industrial heritage. Creating a unique set of cards printed using traditional methods lends them a lovely tactility and it seems a fitting way for the stationery company (Paper Tiger) to mark an important milestone.
Paul Simonon x Sailor Jerry
Sailor Jerry is a brand of spiced Caribbean rum, named after Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, a famously rebellious and trailblazing American tattoo artist who was based in Hawaii. This limited-edition collaboration in 2013 with a true punk icon, Paul Simonon (famous for playing bass in The Clash, but also styling the band, and a bona-fide artist in his own right), where he payed homage to the classic flash style tattoo designs Sailor Jerry is known for, but also added his own touch really feels in keeping with the punk rock spirit of the brand.
As a company, Sailor Jerry often collaborates with musicians and artists and it’s always interesting to see who they work with and how the end result comes together.
National Gallery of Canada rebrand
I recently came across an It’s Nice That article, featured on their LinkedIn feed, which highlighted the rebranding of the National Gallery of Canada, who worked with AREA/17, and, in an effort to address decolonisation, consulted Indigenous Elders to help them develop ideas for the new brand.
Sasha Suda, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, said: “The National Gallery of Canada’s purpose is to nurture interconnection across time and place. When we lean into this purpose, we acknowledge this place, the natural world around us, and, importantly, we amplify the voices of the communities that we exist to serve.”
“The National Gallery of Canada is dynamic, alive and changing. Since I began my journey here, I had anticipated that we needed to look within and plan for an organizational change. Really diving in and looking at who we are as a Canadian institution wasn’t a simple challenge. This deep introspection was difficult and joyful, gentle and tough, satisfying and only a first step.
“Part of the process were conversations with Algonquin Elders, during which the word Ankosé emerged – meaning ‘everything is connected.’
“Everyone is connected to the art, to each other.”
Ankosé: Everything is connected
Rebranding a nation’s gallery and reflecting its heritage
The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa recently launched a new brand identity, created by Area 17. This was developed through a careful process of consultation with an advisory council of Indigenous Elders from a local First Nations community. The intention in doing so was to highlight efforts to decolonise the museum and demonstrate a more inclusive approach.
300 interviews were conducted in total, across a broad range of individuals; focus groups were held across Canada to gather the opinions of artists, young people, gallery staff, diversity consultants and others.
Through discussions with Algonquin Elders, a word emerged: Ankosé – meaning “everything is connected.” This resonated deeply and quickly became a central focus for the gallery’s new identity. From this, the visual concept was developed, encompassing a set of moving geometric forms, to reflect the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the NGC (and perhaps even Canada itself). The shapes incorporated into the fluctuating design also echo the striking architecture of the gallery building.
The National Gallery’s new look is a sharp contrast to the old logo, which could be seen as masculine, angular and rigid – whereas the updated identity is notably softer and has a more modern feel, in part due to its kaleidoscopic appearance and vibrant pastel colour palette.
There’s something really beautiful about the way it has evolved quite organically, and as a prominent visual arts organisation for a whole country, I think it is important that they gave careful consideration to how they can use their platform to help showcase diversity within the arts in Canada (and beyond).
In summary, I think the project has been successful in demonstrating that listening to the voices of marginalised and under-represented groups and including them in the decision-making process can be extremely powerful. It also results in an outcome that is ultimately much more representative of the community it serves.
Updated Editorial Design – Final Outcome
For the image on the left of the inner spread (see above), I wanted to echo the visual feel of the logo/cover and tie it into the institution’s building itself, so I used a photograph of the ceiling with its unique geometric design. To harmonise the different elements of my design I used the colours from the NGC’s brand throughout, and applied an overlay to the image to marry everything together.
Reflection on the week
My rationale for choosing the National Gallery of Canada rebrand project was that although it’s very recent (the new identity was unveiled in June 2021), I do feel it is absolutely of historical significance, and particularly timely, given the news that has just come to light about the atrocities of the residential boarding school system in Canada. It’s vital that organisations like the NGC use their platform to demonstrate an exemplary approach to redressing the balance when it comes to listening to, working closely with, and amplifying the voices of Indigenous people and their communities.
Ultimately, the most effective collaborations incorporate good communication between the individuals or groups taking part, in whatever role that might be. A clear understanding of the ideal outcome or goals for the project is just as important.
Allowing space for a project to unfold naturally, as opposed to being too prescriptive, can also be a catalyst for some of the most interesting potential outcomes. Another key consideration is to take the time to find the right partners to work with in the first place, as appropriate to the scope and aims of the project.
ALAGIAH, Matt. June 2021. ‘The National Gallery of Canada’s rebrand marks a step towards decolonisation.’ It’s Nice That. Available at https://www.itsnicethat.com/news/national-gallery-of-canada-rebrand-graphic-design-250621 [accessed 29/06/2021]
AREA 17. 2021. ‘National Gallery of Canada: Representing Canada through Ankosé.’ Available at https://area17.com/work/national-gallery-of-canada-brand [accessed 29/06/2021]
CARTER, Meg. 2016. ‘Tune out, dive deep, read on.’ Eye Magazine. Available at http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/tune-out-dive-deep-read-on [accessed 26/06/2021]
Cision. June 2021. ’National Gallery of Canada unveils new brand image.’ Available at https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/national-gallery-of-canada-unveils-new-brand-image-858230283.html [accessed 30/06/2021]
Morag Myerscough. 2020. Available at https://www.moragmyerscough.com/ [accessed 01/07/2021]
National Gallery of Canada. 2021. Ankosé – Brand Film. Available at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc_iQ7jwph8 [accessed 29/06/2021]
National Gallery of Canada. 2021. ‘From the Director.’ Available at https://www.gallery.ca/about/from-the-director [accessed 29/06/2021]
National Gallery of Canada. 2021. ‘Our brand Story.’
Available at https://www.gallery.ca/about/our-brand-story [accessed 29/06/2021]
Safdie Architects. 2021. ‘National Gallery of Canada.’ Available at https://www.safdiearchitects.com/projects/national-gallery-of-canada [accessed 30/06/2021]
SUDA, Sasha. June 2021. ‘Our path forward as an institution is Ankosé.’ National Gallery of Canada. Available at
https://www.gallery.ca/magazine/in-the-spotlight/our-path-forward-as-an-institution-is-ankose [accessed 30/06/2021]
The Children’s Hospital Charity. 2021. ‘Artfelt.’ Available at https://www.tchc.org.uk/our-impact/artfelt.html [accessed 01/07/2021]