An exhibition of typewriters, related works and Artists’ Books presented by Angie & Simon Butler.

The largest room in our home is now commonly known as, ‘The Typewriter Room, ‘ housing around twenty-five machines. Though, that number will probably change (upwards!) soon enough. We have an interesting collection; and although our personal preferences differ, we both appreciate the typewriter’s form and functionality, which extends from the lightweight portable to the heavy office machine. We will be showcasing typewriters from our personal collection: featuring favourite design classics by Ettore Sottsass, Marcello Nizzoli, and Mario Bellini. Many of the models by Olivetti, Imperial, Adler, and Smith Corona were used by famous writers and celebrities from the 1950’s-1970’s.

Simon says, “They are beautiful things, a connection to a bygone era. And because I am able to understand them, I can look at typewriters. I can look at the mechanics, and I can often see what’s wrong. You can’t do that with many things now. I like to get to understand things, by looking. You don’t really need to take things apart, just look closely at them. I remove all the debris that’s built up over the years – the romantic idea of that dirt. Where is it from, this correcting fluid? Sometimes there are little bits of envelope that are caught in the mechanics. Sometimes I can see past attempts of repair. I love that … on some of the big office machines, there’s a dent worn in the space bar, from where the typist’s thumb has hit it, thousands of times.

There’s also the idea of a shared experience – say, a famous writer has used a particular typewriter, and you have that same model, then there is a connection there. That is kind of romantic. Or maybe it’s a typewriter that has appeared in a film, it’s like owning a tiny piece of something special or important.

Sometimes, especially on the office machines, there’s a residue of make-up embedded in the keys and the rollers, and you also get marks where the typists’ nails have struck the keys. All of these things, they reveal a historical event, time, a moment, traces. It raises more questions than gives answers to. That’s the mysterious story – you make the rest up, or you can do if you want to. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

Angie says about making Artists’ Books, “Using a manual typewriter has unlocked a hidden part of me. It’s given me permission to be okay with, even celebrate, and appreciate, mistakes.  Depending on what I’m doing, I usually either start again, or make the mistake into part of the work. I quite like the fact that you have to practise at something to get it a certain way. Or when that ‘mistake moment’ makes you change your mind about your original idea, often to go on to produce something much better, and more creative. The subtle imperfections and variations of print on paper provide a typewriter’s own signature: each has it’s own font, appearance and ‘personality’, and needs to be handled and used differently. That distinctive sound of a typewriter’s keys being struck, immediately engages you. It has a sense of rhythm and fun, but can also have a serious air of authority.  The sense of history imbued in a typewriter that you own is a marvellous feeling. So many stories.”

“They are also, just such lovely things to look at.”

06-22 February 2013. Mon-Fri 9-7 Sat 10-4 Sun1-4

Gallery Space: Bath School Of Art & Design, Sion Hill, Bath. BA1 5SF.


We will also be hosting the following events:

‘Typing Pool’ 06-22 February. An opportunity to interact with office and portable manual typewriters. Transport yourself back in time, to experience the sound, smell and feel of a previous age of type on paper, before the computer.  Incorporating this analogue technology in our screen-based daily life aids reconnection with the tactile, and so the typewriter becomes a printing method, to create. Open access daily. Gallery Space.

‘Bookish Types’ 06-22 February. An exhibition of Artists’ Books, from practitioners across the UK who use the typewriter as inspiration, aesthetic, and creative partner. An eclectic range of accomplished works that reveal all the advantages, reward and enjoyment of engaging with this now obsolete and once overlooked piece of technology. With special thanks to Sarah Bodman and the Artists’ Books Partnership exhibition Programme (ABPP) at UWE. Open access daily. Glass cases in corridor off Gallery Space and Canteen.

A companion exhibition will be held in collaboration with Sion Hill Library, showing art books, artists’ books and instruction books from the library collections that feature the typewriter as object, artwork, text, philosophy, machine and inspiration.  Sion Hill Library, Bath School Of Art & Design.  Mon-Fri 9a.m.-7.00p.m. Sat & Sun 1p.m.-5p.m.

Type-In 06 Feb 5.30-7.30p.m.  An opening party to celebrate our exhibition, have a chat and a drink with us, and do some casual typing! Timed event. Gallery Space.

‘My Valentine’ 13 Feb 12-2p.m.  A ‘live’ typing event. Your Valentine message typed for you on an Olivetti Valentine typewriter. Free. Messages will be displayed anonymously on the Typing Pool notice-board in time for Valentine’s Day, 14th. February. Timed event. Gallery Space.