Alberta Whittle: create dangerously
Designed by James Brook for National Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh, 2023

This is a poster I designed for the exhibition Alberta Whittle: create dangerously at Modern One, National Galleries of Scotland, the largest showing of the artist’s work to date. The exhibition includes digital collages, watercolours and new paintings and offers an opportunity to see the artist’s tapestry, Entanglement is more than blood, and film installation, Lagareh – The Last Born, which the artist presented at the Venice Biennale in 2022, commissioned by Scotland+Venice.

The A0 poster is based on brand guidelines developed by DNCO, a branding agency based in London and New York. I was asked to develop three possible routes for the design using the new logo, brand colourways and bespoke typeface, Caslon Doric NGS. This is the first time that the branding has been put in to action on an exhibition poster and forms part of the National Galleries of Scotland major rebrand for 2023. 

Working closely with the NGS marketing team, the curators of the exhibition, and the artist and her gallery, I developed and refined three design approaches, eventually settling on one featuring a visually arresting still taken from the artist’s film, Lagareh – The Last Born as the lead image. This was my favourite image and the strongest of the set of images I was given to work with so I am delighted everyone got on board with it.

Once the design of the poster had been finalised I adapted the design to fit the other elements of the brief: a totem (free-standing signage board), 800mm wide x 1510mm high; a private view invitation; and a roadside hoarding, 17,600mm wide x 1220mm high. The posters, hoarding and totems were produced by large format digital print and signage specialists Mackinnon Slater in Edinburgh, and I was very grateful to Colin Mackinnon for his help and advice during the production of the assets, especially the hoarding which is possibly the widest item I have ever designed!

The new National Galleries Scotland branding was launched at the end of March 2023, coinciding with the opening of Alberta’s exhibition. Installation of the posters and hoarding took place in mid-February so, in order to keep the new branding undercover until the date of the launch, I had to devise a series of stickers that covered over the new NGS logo with a ‘coming soon’ flash; these stickers were removed at the end of March. In addition, the private view invitation could not feature the new NGS logo as originally planned so I had to do a last minute re-design to include the old NGS logo (below is the version of the private view invitation as originally designed with the new logo).

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