Sunday, 31 January 2010

COURT OUT!

Leaving the Royal Academy the other month, I noticed the foundation stone commemorating the creation of the Annenberg Courtyard - or, I should say, CO(U)RTYARD!

Ooops!

Take a closer look at the beginning of the second line...


Now, I'm sure the stone mason said that he absolutely meant to put the 'U' inside the 'O', but I don't believe it! And, what's more, adding that funny 'T' in 'WALTER' proves nothing more than that he spotted the mistake before got to line five!

Top image uploaded via flickr.

19 comments:

Jen said...

...or line six- the i in the O !! The mason also joins the 'N's & 'E's to H. Stylish intent or a creative cover-up?
I've done calligraphy & it's a real pain when you notice a mistake.Pen & hand flowing ..then arrgh!

Haste:Best avoided when using implements.or was it Chaste...?!Now got SYCHABIO: nervous condition og stonemasons

Geno said...

An oddity with a certain beauty to it. Thanks for sharing this!

Brian Sibley said...

JEN - To my mind, doing it again with an 'i' in the sixth line just shows how totally willful this mason is!

GENO - You're right, there is a kind of beauty to it - however perverse! Took a fascinating tour of your blog: you and your family are living an exciting story!

scb said...

It's tricky fitting words all nicely into a square... one must be creative. One just gets it all laid out nicely, and realizes "Oh shoot (or words to that effect), I've left out another ruddy letter. Ha! This will balance it out nicely, and they'll think I meant it that way." Or it's a code. Likely translates to "I can't count, but I'm a lot of fun at parties."

Galen Fott said...

It's all intentional, don't you see? "O" represents the courtyard...and "U" and "I" are in it!

Sheila said...

Brian (and Jen), Have you seen The St Johns Bible - a major project in which the renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson is leading a team creating an illuminated, hand-penned Bible? I have a copy of the Gospels: there's a mistake in a column of St Matthew's Gospel, where the calligrapher has missed out a line. Instead of re-writing, they've added the line at the bottom of its column and then drawn a bird in the margin, carrying the line on the end of a string to its missing place. It's a charming image and a clever way of avoiding having to start the page again.

(For information about the Bible project see http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/)

Boll Weavil said...

It's good...but we can do better ! James Gandon's beautiful Shire Hall is an 18th century architectural gem in Nottingham. Included in it is a building decorated by a stonemason with one eye on the match at the weekend... the TOWN GOAL !
GALUT : An unforunate mistake that comes back to haunt you centuries later !

Wayne said...

Since professional letterers in stone work out their designs carefully in advance, the O in the U etc. are surely intentional. In this case there would have been a predetermined size and text, from which a design (to be submitted and approved) would have to be worked out which fit the words wanted into the available space and in appropriate sizes, but also in appropriate letterforms and in an appropriate mood -- here mostly formal but with a certain playfulness. Jen notes some of the other idiosyncrasies; I count nine altogether, also joined or touching T and Y and joined A and S in line 2, and joined N and D in line 7.

Several examples of this kind of cutting are illustrated in one of the best books on the subject, Letters Slate Cut by David Kindersley and Lida Lopes Cardozo.

SharonM said...

Maybe it was an apprentice stonemason - or he/she was pissed at the time.

Probably just underestimated the space required.

Brian Sibley said...

GALEN FOTT - Brilliant! I totally believe it! Well rationalised!

SHEILA - Lovely story and the image you sent me under separate cover is beautiful.

WAYNE - I know you're right, and (as is my way) I was being frivolous and playful; but I still don't think one should ever deliberately do something that looks as if it might have been a mistake...

SHARON M - Maybe the smallness of the fee drove him to drink!

Of course the thing about doing something for an art gallery, is that there is always the difficulty - when it comes to art - of knowing what's currently 'U' and what's 'Non-U'...

Suzanne said...

All I can say is that Mr Hannenberg must have had dreadful handwriting! And now I'm going to dash back to the original post to see what's going on in the 6th line... I missed that!
clesteri: the lack of space on a slab of stone which forces masons to improvise space-saving devices!

Suzanne said...

And having posted my comment and flitted back to the post to see line 6, I realise that I must have what Jen calls "sychabio"
My excuse is that there was no full stop after Mr Annenberg's second initial!

Eudora said...

Yes, of course, is intentional, and Brian know this. I had to restore years ago some stones of the XVIII century, each country, each language have their calligraphy for this kind of abbreviations... and in one ocassion I'd made a chessboard with some verses of Borges, a problem of space forced me to do this kind of arrangement of the letters.

Brian Sibley said...

SUZANNE - You want full stops?! And I thought I was being unreasonably demanding!

EUDORA - Yes, you're right: I am sure it was entirely deliberate - just as I was being deliberately irksome in my post! But it does raise an interesting question about the essential purposes and principles of design which I think should be about clear, uncomplicated (and, if possible, elegant) communication.

By the way, I'd love to see an image of your Borges chessboard...

Brian Sibley said...

BOLL WEAVIL - (Belatedly, with apologies) 'TOWN GOAL' is brilliant! Mind you, I can remember, as a child, coming across 'gaol' for the first time in a book and not realising that it was the same as 'jail'... What a language!

Eudora said...

Brian, I sent you the photo of the chessboard, I hope you got it.

Brian Sibley said...

I did, EUDORA, thank you! Maybe, with your permission, I can share it with readers of this blog at some point...?

Eudora said...

You have my permission to do anything you want with all photos or documents I share with you, but, please, I don't think that my chessboard deserves a space in your blog. I only want to make sure that you have the photo... the last days some mails, send to friends and certifications, were lost in the Internet depths...:/

Brian Sibley said...

MICHAEL e-mails from the USA...

"I don't know if it means the same in the UK but the symbol on the stone with the U inside the O, denotes that the item is Kosher, as recognized by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations - I am sure this is just a coincidence!"

Thanks, Michael. There's an angle we didn't expect!