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Signs of the Times at Mossley Train Station

A NEW EXHIBITION WITH SIGNS BY UMBERTO

A brand new exhibition by Robert Walker, who works under the moniker Signs By Umberto, will launch on Saturday 26 March 2022. For his exhibition, Robert has drawn inspiration from the vintage signage and advertising typography of Mossley’s local retailers through the ages, including long-gone butchers shops, photography studios and drapers. Eleven intricate sets of panels featuring his work will be fitted along the platform and in the station waiting room. The signwriter, who is a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, hopes the exhibition will bring the feel of a bustling olden days high street to the station.

Of particular help to Robert’s research has been a book he found at Mossley Heritage Centre, by local historians Alison Wild and Shirley Howard. Called Mossley Shops, it gives a detailed account of the town’s high streets from the 1950s onwards. The book includes many black and white images of local retailers, from W Smith’s Photographers to the original Mossley Industrial Coop. Another influence on the exhibition has been the words of Lancashire dialect poet Samuel Laycock, who used to run a photographer’s studio on the town’s Stamford Road. His phrase “owt that likes”, from the poem Welcome Bonny Brid can be seen on one of the panels, which also incorporates fonts and designs from an old letterhead of the Mossley Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd.

Use the botton below to open the what3words mapping site and find the location of the exhibition…


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“I take inspiration from craftsmanship that spans generations, lettering that is rooted within our heritage and carved into our architectural and industrial past.’ I FIND IT DEEPLY FASCINATING THAT AS WE RESEARCH PROJECTS VIA BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY, THAT IN ACTUAL FACT THE HIGH STREET WASN’T BLACK AND WHITE BUT BURSTING WITH COLOUR. Each sign would depict an air of social class, advertising the goods on sale and denoting social progression through the form of lettering and the colour used to illuminate the sign.”

 

Becoming Umberto

Robert ‘Umberto’ Walker is the owner of Signs by Umberto. A sign-writer as well as an educator, Robert specialises in reverse glass sign making based in Woodend Mill in Mossley.

The name derives from a name given to Robert at a young age by his father. Robert has four brothers in total and their dad has a name for each of his sons that has links to films. Robert began sign writing in 1991 at the age of 14, working with a sign writer from Bradford in West Yorkshire, to paint large wall pieces for the Eureka children’s museum in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Robert quickly fell in love with typography and painting at a similar time and soon began to study art and design before eventually he began to teach typography on design courses across Yorkshire after completing a Master’s Degree in International Graphic Design Practice as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Lifelong Education.

Robert specialises in hand crafted sign making known as Verre Églomisé, a process of applying both a design and gold onto the rear face of glass as well as hand painted sign writing and large scale typographic murals.


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