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WATCH: Keeping the art of signwriting alive

WATCH: Keeping the art of signwriting alive

Saturday 11 May 2019

WATCH: Keeping the art of signwriting alive

You’ve probably come upon his work in Pitt Street, at Sangria, Chordz or around Heritage and National Trust sites, but Steph Newington is very much a man of the shadows.

For over 30 years, he has been quietly keeping the art of traditional signwriting alive in the island but after several requests from Jersey Museum, he’s finally agreed to put his work on display at the Link Gallery this month from 14 to 26 May.

He first learned his craft over 30 years ago with the "old masters" when sign writing was still "an art form and not a software."

Video: Steph at work on the Foot building.

"I did lots of art at school and when I was about 13 or 14, we were allowed to go in the wild world and gain work experience," Steph explained.

"You got to choose what you wanted to do. There were about three or four signwriting workshops over here and I got accepted into one. They saw the potential in me and phoned the school to see if I would be interested in taking it up as a skill. I was very lucky to be surrounded by people who were able to teach me all the time."

Since then, Steph has kept practising traditional signwriting - "Everything I do is original, done by hand, I don’t use a software."

Pictured: Steph has created a number of signs in town, including for la Bouche.

Describing the practice as "a dying art", he considers himself very lucky to have been able to work on different projects in Jersey.

This has included working with Jersey Heritage, as well as the National Trust, for whom he recreated the 'His Master's Voice' mural on the side of the Foot building.

Aside from signwriting, Steph also spends a lot of time airbrushing. "I’ve also been an airbrush artist for 20 years. I’ve done interiors, canvasses. I’ve also done a Morris Minor Van - that one took six years of my life."


Pictured: One of Steph's airbrushed creations.

"I also do glass gilding, where I have to work in reverse," he adds. "Normally in paintings, you do the colour first and finish with the gold leaf but in that case I work backwards and start with the gold. Everything is very traditional - all hands on. I love doing what I do!"

This month's exhibition at Link Gallery will include examples of his different practices. Perhaps it could inspire youngsters - for whom Steph says he feels sorry, "Technology is good but for me it’s too much plastic! I’m old school!" - to take up the mantle.

This article first appeared in Connect magazine. Read the latest edition by clicking here.

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Posted by The old git Git on
Hey Steph
That's quality work and a pleasure to see there's still people of your skill around to do this.
And well done on such a fine job on the side of the "Foots Building".
It's an honour to have you as family.

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