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Topic: Letter Man: Joseph Churchward's world of type

Joseph Churchward is a Samoan-born graphic designer whose typefaces (fonts) are used the world over. Since the 1960s, he has handcrafted over 570 original typefaces – more than any other individual.

His fonts feature on billboards, record sleeves, newspapers, and in digital media. One is used for the title of Te Papa’s exhibition Tangata o le Moana: The story of Pacific people in New Zealand. Although not his own font, Churchward’s hand-lettering skills were also used in the creation of opticians’ eye charts.

Through pencil sketches, print negatives, photographs, and newspaper clippings, this exhibition brings the intricacies of Churchward’s art into view for the first time.

Ko Hohepa Churchward he kaihoahoa whakairoiro nö Hämoa näna nei ngä momotuhi kei te whakamahia e te ao whänui.  Mai i ngä tau 1960 ka waihanga-ä-ringatia e ia neke atu i te 570 momotuhi taketake – he nui atu tërä i tëtahi atu kaihoahoa.

Kei runga ana momotuhi i ngä papa pänui, i ngä uhi o ngä köpae püoro, i ngä niupepa, me ngä rawa ä-mati. Kei te whakamahia tëtahi mö te whakaupoko o tä Te Papa whakaaturanga Tangata o le Moana: The story of Pacific People in New Zealand. Ahakoa ehara i a ia ngä momotuhi, ko ana pükenga waihanga momotuhi ka whakamahia mö ngä tütohi karu e ngä kaimatai karu.

Mä ngä mahi toi pënei i ngä tuhi haehae ä-pene räkau, mä ngä häraunga köataata, mä ngä whakaahua, me ngä tapahanga niupepa, ka whakaatu tënei whakaaturanga i ngä manganga rauiti o ngä toi o Churchward hei mätakitakitanga tuatahinga ma te tangata.

(Text taken from the Exhibition of the same name, Ilott Gallery, Te Papa, 21 August 2008 - 16 February 2009)

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