Friday, 11 July 2008

Report on Armenia Type Now (so many missed such a significant exhibition)

Armenia Type Now

Organised by University of Lincoln

At the Wren Library, Lincoln Cathedral Cloisters.

5 – 12 July 2008

This opening ceremony of the exhibition commenced with two songs, The Apricot Tree and The Crane, sung by Kate Witney of the Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Manchester.

Caroline Puzzovio, the driving force of the exhibition, reminded the audience that Armenian writing was one of the few that had an origination date: nearly all others were developed over long periods of time. Not only that, it can be attributed to a specific person, St Mesrob Mashtots, and his team of workers. The Armenian ambassador , Vahe Gabrielyan,emphasised that Armenians were supported by two pillars: their Christian faith and church, and their language.

Despite severe political and economic constraints, new Armenian lettering was continually developed both in the pre-and post- Soviet periods. Computer technology digitised fonts, and recent software advances have allowed new ranges that can be used over many hardware platforms. These require considerable, painstaking and detailed work over many hours of effort.

In 2005, collaboration started between Carolyn Puzzovio of Lincoln University and Edik Ghabuzyan, Head of the Department of Creating and Keeping Armenian fonts of National Book Chamber. Carolyn had done extensive research into Armenian typefaces with visits to many libraries and depositories, including St Lazare, Venice. They devised new fonts that would encompass both Armenian and Latin characters, and one that was made available in the exhibition is called Pomegranates after the national fruit.

The common development continues, and as an example, Carolyn was a judge for a new competition organised by the ROA Minister of Culture in Yerevan.

The exhibition consists of 20th ad 21st century books chosen to demonstrate the vast range of fonts that are in existence. Though mainly printed books, there were other examples of manuscript illustrations and even embroidery. A fascinating video film shows dancers forming the letters by moving their bodies to music.

Above are examples of the new fonts that were shown.

A sample of the books included:

Avetik Isahakian, Abou Lala poem (published in 1881)

Movses Khorenatsi, Armenian History (published in 1971)

New Testament (published in 1923)

St Nerses Narekatsi, Book of Lamentations (published in 2004)

Ghazar Parpetsi, Armenian History & Message to Vartan Mamikonian (published 1907)

Book of Common Prayer (published 1847)

Attendees from Armenia were

Edik Ghabuzyan, Head of Department, Creating and Keeping Armenian fonts, National Book Chamber;
Gagik Khachatryan, Senior specialist of the Department of Culture Relations State Programs, Culture Relations, Education and Science Division of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia
Nerses Ter-Vardanyan, Advisor to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia, and
Angella Poghosova, a translator, a lecturer of English of the Educational Centre 'ALGO'.


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