Shortly after entering the Herbert, and after seeing the first piece of work by Banksy, my eye was drawn to these two colourful typographic pieces by Michael Peel. The two pieces the Herbert featured were War Graves (1991) (top image) and Warning (1996) (bottom left image, other two completed the series but weren’t featured in the Gallery.).



These two pieces of work featured in The Herbert are part of Michael Peel’s Modern World series; were the designs were created in response to the First Gulf War & Political events, and use images and pieces of text taken from the media. ‘Warning’ comment on the conflict in Yugoslavia, and War Graves was design about the soldiers in Iraq; with the images being rather ghostly implying that’s what they will inevitably become.

These pieces are designed using visual hierarchy that is designed to bring the eye into the piece and guide it around smoothly. You can therefore imagine how this was one of the very first pieces of work I was drawn to. I really like both these pieces – they both use very simple grid arrangements, using a back background, with borders varying between white, grey and black, and then a black and white image. He then uses newsprint type on top on the image as the title, using highly contrasting letters, rotating the use between type and background each letter. The more subtler type in these piece are what interest me an awful lot. They make the pieces look very informative (which they are), like a poster, but the way they are under lapped and ‘faded’ in with the backgrounds make it all seem very fluid.

I also love (on War Graves) how Peel has let type ran off the page into black space (without a page border). It makes me want to read more in to the artwork – finding out what the sentences would say complete and the meaning behind why they are used. It also gives a very nature and un-edited feel – like the articles was simply roughly cut out off a newspaper – but very clean in the process as the edges are smooth, crisp and form a perfect rectangular shape. Again, subtle uses of colour in the circle and plus signs in each bottom corner give the piece more personality, and more reason to doubt and question why they are there.