Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has a new exhibition which considers how lettering and typography have evolved to play a fundamental role in our experience of the English seaside.

‘Signs of the Seaside’ features more than 100 works, including photography, type specimens, 3D artworks and textiles. This interactive, family-friendly exhibition explores the deep connection between typography and the English seaside, providing a new perspective on the function and purpose of graphic design in our coastal towns. Works from the museum’s collection accompany vibrant new commissions by artists including Anthony Burrill and Amy Goodwin, articulating the evolution of the coastal vernacular over the past 250 years.

On display are early type specimens from the 18th century through to examples of lettering at the coast in the modern day, including never before seen draft designs of Blackpool’s iconic Comedy Carpet, classic hand-painted fairground signage and a 5-foot letter ‘R’, which once graced the entrance to Brighton Pier, renovated and reimagined for the exhibition by neon artist Andy Doig.

Ditchling’s rich typographic legacy is represented by work from distinguished type designer Edward Johnston, including early proofs of his enduring London Underground typeface ‘Johnston Sans’.

The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the decades – highlighting the importance of graphic design at the height of the seaside’s popularity in the early 20th century, through the inter-war years, post-war national events such as the Festival of Britain, and innovations in design in the present day.

The exhibition begins with new large-scale works by Guest Curator Justin Burns. Inspired by the rich palette of Brighton’s seafront, and the prints explore the inscribed, painted, printed or fabricated letterforms which visually package and form our experience of the English seaside.

‘Signs of the Seaside’ runs until Sunday 3 September 2023 at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lodge Hill Lane, BN6 8SP. The opening hours are Wednesday – Sunday (and Bank Holidays) 10:30 am – 5 pm.

Check the museum’s website for ticket prices.

:: Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft is part of the Thameslink Art Trail by Rail which has details of galleries, museums and trails which can be reached from railway stations on the Thameslink train route.

Photo credit: Emma Croman



Signs of the Seaside exhibition at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft including illuminated letter 'R' from Brighton Pier sign