Be Spoken To

Some words of mine are currently making an appearance in an exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, on signs crafted and artisan-ed by the amazing Caren Florance (aka Ampersand Duck). The exhibition is called Bespoke : Design for the People and is jointly organised with CraftACT as part of the Design Canberra Festival. Our bit of the five-room exhibition is called Be Spoken To.

The pictures in this post (at least, the first and third ones) were taken at the exhibition launch on 15 November, by Mark Nolan of Chalk Studio. I’m the one with the white hair, and Caren is the one with the glasses.

Melinda, Caren and signs

We have ways of making you be spoken to

The words on the eight Be Spoken To signs were composed with a very limited vocabulary: they use only words which appeared on the eight original signs displayed in the Sign Room of the Suites, Seats and Suits gallery. I just…rearranged them a bit. If you go there you can have fun spotting the words on the original signs, which are displayed on the opposite side of the same room. The words on the Be Spoken To signs are not really poems as such – more like …erm…text-based installations…as they depend very much for their impact on the reader being in the room with them.

Original signs with Caren and Melinda goofing off in front

The original signs, with the original prankstas

Caren used hand-set letterpress, mostly with wood type, and gold embossing powder to come up with an effect that mirrored the black and gold hand-lettering on the original signs.

The results were affixed to authentic ‘retired’ signs taken out of storage (and out of their dust-repellent ‘ghost bags’) for the purpose.

And she even came up with a way to lino-cut the pointing hand symbol (called a manicule).

Sign with manicule

Thattaway

Be Spoken To also includes a a set of four (more traditional) poems on a black and white framed print on one wall of the same room. This is a limited edition print – you can contact Caren if you would like your very own copy.

Partial image of wall-mounted poem

A taster

If you’re going to see the Power of One Voice exhibition anyway, why not toddle off to the back of the Senate side and check out Bespoke? The other four rooms all contain very interesting and engaging craft pieces responding to the original furniture and design elements in the building. The exhibition will be up until November 2015. That’s right, a whole year. Still, best go before you forget…

And while I’ve got you here, don’t forget I will be reading at the Wild Ones event next week (Wed 3rd December from 6pm).

Finally, I am excited to announce that the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winners will be announced the following Monday, 8 December, at a dinner in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. In case you missed it, my book Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call is one of five books on the poetry shortlist, in the running for the $80,000 first prize. I was a wee bit excited about that, and still am. You can read the judges’comments here.