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Archived posts: October 2012

Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!

So this is rather fine. A facsimile version of the playbill poster that inspired John Lennon to write Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, printed by the lovely folks at New North Press, with wood engravings by Andy English.

Here are the lyrics:

For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons will all be there
Late of Pablo Fanques’ fair, what a scene.

Over men and horses hoops and garters
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire
In this way Mr. K will challenge the world.

The celebrated Mr. K
Performs his feats on Saturday at Bishopsgate.
The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flies through the ring, don’t be late.

Messrs K. and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none.
And of course Henry the Horse dances the waltz.

The band begins at ten to six
When Mr. K performs his tricks without a sound,
And Mr. H will demonstrate
Ten somersets he’ll undertake on solid ground.

Having been some days in preparation
A splendid time is guaranteed for all
And tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill.

Lovely stuff.

The Ministry Needs You!

How would you like to create your own branch of the Ministry of Stories and your own version of its shop, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies?

We’ve rambled on about both of them on here at great length (check out our blog post about the Ministry, and this project page; and this project page for the shop).

It’s been nearly two years since we helped to set them up, and since then the Ministry has provided thousands of local kids with free one-to-one writing mentoring and group workshops, all thanks to the work of an incredible team of volunteers, and to the fantastic co-directors Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne.

Last year we were nominated for a D&AD Award (in the Writing for Design category) for our work on it (if you’re a D&AD member, you can read the case study of the project on their website); and Alistair has recently been nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2012 Social Enterprise Awards which take place next month.

We’ve carried on creating new products for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, so you can now get a whole new set of Tinned Fear, jars of Moonlight (for Werewolves) and Sunlight (for vampires with S.A.D.), bars of Impacted Earwax, as well as Banshee Balls and Bah! Humbugs. Not to mention the Fairy Dust (made from real fairies), and Near Rings, which warn you of nearby peril. You can buy all of it at the shop, a lot of it at the Monster Supplies website, and now also get some bits at Harvey Nichols stores around the country.

We collaborated with the folks at Studio Weave to create a fantastic range of Salts made from Tears, which you can read more about on this post.

(We’ve got some other brilliant collaborations in the works, which will be launching over the next few weeks, and we’ll tell you about them mighty soon.)

Design is a huge part of the way the Ministry and the shop work.

Aside from all the products, they also publish collections of the kids’ writing, such as the Awfully Bad Guide to Monster Housekeeping (designed by Ed Cornish)…

… as well as a regular newspaper, Hoxton A.M., also written by the kids (designed by Alex Parrott).

The Ministry also launched a Children’s Republic of Shoreditch over the summer, with its own Embassy (all designed by Burgess Studio).

So, it’s been a busy two years.

Over that time, the Ministry has had lots of requests from people around the UK eager to open up their own Ministries, with their own accompanying shops.

And the Ministry has now officially opened applications for people wanting to do just that.

So if you’re a designer, or work at a design group, somewhere in the UK (outside of London*), and would be interested in helping to set up a Ministry in your area, now’s your chance. It takes quite a bit of work, but it’s ridiculously rewarding, and we’d recommend doing it in a heartbeat. Quite what forms your versions of the Ministry and the shop take is entirely down to you. (You might want to take a look at the 826 project, and its associated stores, which was of course our inspiration to begin with.)

The application process is quite hefty, and there’s quite a long lead time before you become an actual Ministry, but that means that there’s plenty of time to come up with some truly brilliant ideas. You might already know educators / writers / volunteers in your local area, but if not, get in touch with the Ministry, and if there are other people thinking about setting something up near you, they can pass your details on.

Any questions, stick them in the comments section below, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

*If you are a designer in London, and would like to help out with the stuff we’re doing, just give us a shout. We can always do with more help!

Union Jack 2014

Yesterday saw the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement, which announces a referendum on Scottish Independence in 2014, and thus the possibility of Scotland leaving the UK and becoming independent – the ending of a 305 year old political union.

This got us thinking about the Union Flag (more commonly known as the Union Jack, though strictly speaking that name is reserved for flags flown at sea), and how it might change if Scotland did go its own way.

The current flag is made up of three separate flags: the St George’s Cross of England, the St Andrew’s Cross of Scotland, and the St Patrick’s Cross of Northern Ireland:

They all come together, with a bit of jiggling, and a few fimbriations (the white outlines around each of the crosses) to make the current Union Flag:

But if Scotland runs off to do its own thing, then it seems to make sense that the flag should change (even though under the current proposals Scotland would hang onto the monarch as the head of state). If you whip out the St Andrew’s Cross from the flag, and balance out the weight of the St Patrick’s Cross, you get this:

But hang on. The flag would be representing The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but currently Wales isn’t represented in the flag (it was already part of the Kingdom of England when the flag was put together). That seems more than a little wrong. So perhaps we might see Wales take up its place in the flag, either as we’ve shown up top, or perhaps as below:

Or maybe it’s time for something different entirely.

Just spare a thought for all the flag-makers, and not just the ones for the UK, but for all the other nations and colonies that feature the Union Flag in the canton (the upper left hand quadrant) of their flags.

Letterpress: something to say

Mid-October already? Ay caramba. How did that happen? The days, weeks, and months are just flying past…

Anyhoo, the folks at the wonderful St Bride Library have been in touch to flag up their upcoming event Letterpress: Something to say.

It’s a one-day conference “exploring letterpress as a means for delivering real content, be that a set of sharply thought-through design intentions; a re-imagining of the possibilities of the inky process itself; an analogue springboard to new digital visuals and environments; or a reconnection with the power of a simple press to communicate ideas.”

Confirmed speakers include: Anthony Burrill, Catherine Dixon, Ian Gabb (RCA), Thomas Gravemaker, Dylan Kendle (Tomato), Peter Nencini, and L’automatica (Barcelona).

The conference is on Friday 9 November, from 10am until 6pm. Tickets here.