The ‘Lettering Arts Centre’ is a modest little gem tucked away among the somewhat portentous architecture of the increasingly commercialised Snape Maltings, Suffolk. It consists of the headquarters, shop and exhibition room of The Lettering Trust (for short).
The Trust’s basic aim is to encourage the practice of ‘lettered work’, mainly but not necessarily on stone. It does this through supporting a programme of apprenticeships with the relatively few working lettering artists. Through its Memorials by Artists agency, it also advises potential customers wanting, for example, a memorial or gravestone, and puts them in touch with appropriate artists (who are peer-reviewed before being entered on to the Trust’s register) .
This is an arcane field about which I knew little until recently. The main reason I mention it is that the field produces works of great beauty through the highest of skills, and both beauty and skill are splendidly on display in the exhibitions at Snape. It is otiose to argue whether or not these are art exhibitions. All whites and light greys, the exhibition room is, to my mind, in the best of tastes and a fitting showcase for – depending on the exhibition – a range of exhibits around a theme, a time or one or more artists. The Christmas exhibition at the moment is varied and a simple delight; and the shop is in equal good taste, Christmas without the tat and vulgarity now synonymous with the word.
The Lettering Trust, Snape Maltings: view from the shop into the exhibition room