It’s a little tricky to categorise this new book of illustrations. Work of art, puzzle book, novelty guide to London…it could be any. Fortunately, we’re not a library and can invent our own categories. We’d file this one under A for Awesome.
The premise is simple. Artist Christopher Brown has created a linocut illustration for each letter of the alphabet, choosing five or six Londony things beginning with that letter. It’s not exactly an original idea (as we’ll see below), but the execution is superb. The choice of subjects is perfectly pitched, with some very obvious inclusions and a few posers that will have even cab drivers scratching their heads. The letter H, for example, is represented by the eminently guessable Hampton Court, Henry VIII and Hammersmith Bridge. But only true London explorers would identify Hodge the Cat (feline friend of Samuel Johnson) or the Hoover Building.
So, how well would you do? The publisher has kindly granted us permission to reproduce two of the letters below. Leave answers in the comments section (but only one guess per person, so that everyone gets a chance).
Christopher Brown is not the only one playing with a capital alphabet. A year ago, we discovered an entire set of letters in a Google satellite view of London. Street artist Ben Eine recently painted a row of Spitalfields shutters with a complete A-Z. Then there’s Tobias Till, who created this wonderful collection of letter-inspired designs. Finally, Helen Lang has made an alphabetical print where each letter bends into the shape of a London landmark or feature (see third image on the link).