Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Writing: Making Your Mark [Research portfolio]

Clayton, Ewan (2019) Writing: Making Your Mark [Research portfolio]. The British Library, London, UK.

Item Type: Other


Writing: Making your Mark, an exhibition and accompanying book.

The British Library. April to August 2019

New technological developments are causing us to ask if writing has a future in an age where digital technologies (i.e. voice to text, video, biometric identification) are taking over some of its functions? Writing: Making Your Mark answered that key question by transforming the context in which it was asked. We built an exhibition, a publication and events programme that conceived writing broadly - as a multi modal, global ecology of writing systems, tools, materials and genre.

Over a year of weekly meetings with four British Library curators from different departments we selected 120 objects from the Library’s collection that covered over 40 writing systems and spanning 5500 years. The earliest objects were lent to us, at our request, by the British Museum.

We contrasted and explained alternative strategies for representing language in different writing systems; surveyed the main developments in the roman system; examined a range of different tools and technologies for incising, inking, printing, typing and digitally communicating. We differentiated user groups and genres of object, selecting learners, note-takers, artists and designers, and citizens for special attention. Each object was labelled in under 70 words in order to promote accessibility (the first time this had been done for BL exhibitions). Clayton had final approval of all labels and exhibition signage and was a full participant in the selection process and narrative generation.

The exhibition was attended by around 40,000 people. Traveling poster exhibitions circulated to up to 20 major library networks throughout the UK as part of a new knowledge transfer partnership. These acted as catalysts for smaller local exhibitions and workshops.

The exhibition catalogue which Clayton edited, commissioned essays for and contributed 4 chapters to, was published by the British Library and distributed internationally. Touring venues in North America, India and China are under discussion.

Full text not available from this repository.