Islands Design Researchers in Residence 22/23

Isabel Lea: Eroded Expressions

In her research, Isabel links linguistic and graphic design as vital tools for confronting the climate emergency.

Eroded Expressions

How can language influence the way we experience and act in the world? Why does the way we design written language matter?

In Eroded Expressions, Isabel Lea researches environmental terminology from the Celtic languages found across the British Isles: Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic), Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic), Cymraeg (Welsh), Gaelg (Manx) and Kernewek (Cornish). Her work brings us words and phrases from the northernmost isles, where words such as cianalas in Scottish Gaelic describe a longing for the land you’re from, to the southwest coast where towerthack in Cornish describes a weather-beaten building.

These words provide the basis for a design proposal. During her residency, Isabel has developed Ogma, a new typeface which takes traditional Celtic calligraphy techniques and letters, and re-interprets them for a modern context. In her display, Isabel links linguistic and graphic design research to show how culture and knowledge can be vital tools for confronting the climate emergency.

Exhibition photography by Felix Speller

Isabel Lea

Lea is a creative director, graphic designer and researcher with an interest in sociolinguistics and forgotten climate knowledge. Lea's research will centre on untranslatable terms and expressions for land and weather phenomena used in the Gaelic language, considering their role in furthering climate action.


Design Researchers in Residence: Islands

Visit this year's Design Researchers in Residence display showcasing new design research responding to the climate crisis.