GloriaSMH Press Identity and Website

GloriaSMH is a new independent press in Melbourne that publishes poetry and prose from new and established authors. These are usually Australian-born, but not always. Its poetry catalogue, launched April 2016, is already strong, featuring award-winning, highly respected poets, alongside younger poets. The Logo is an extraction of GSMH in Morse code, alluding to the provenance of the original cell during WWII. The lettering is developed for the press, derived in style from GillSans.

“Nothing to be done” is the opening line of Samuel Beckett’s best-known play, Waiting for Godot. Yet, when faced with the German occupation of France and confronted by what the Nazis were doing to his Jewish friends in 1941, Beckett himself joined a Paris-based cell of British SOE (Special Operations Executive) named “Gloria SMH”. “You simply couldn’t stand by with your arms folded,” Beckett said firmly to me.

Gloria SMH was set up and led by a French chemist from the Institut Curie in Paris called Jacques Legrand (code name “SMH”) and the daughter of the Cubist painter Francis Picabia, Jeannine (code name “Gloria”). – SMH is His Majesty’s Service backwards.

Bair, Deirdre, Samuel Beckett: A Biography  p312

Whilst designing an identity for GloriaSMH a chance conversation about Alan Turing and my saturday morning codeword puzzle, along with the crossword conspired to lead me to the idea of infusing the semantic content of the name into a secret code, in much the same way as many of the original members of the unit did. Rather than use an obscure code, the idea was to use something that could be recognised if necessary and ‘understood’ as being encrypted. I chose to use Morse code because, like the alphabet, it uses established structural and visual content. The logo started off as the name printed out with all spaces removed to create a pattern.

I reduced it further – to the acronym GSMH used more commonly amongst ourselves. The spaces between the letters are removed, however each letter is on a new line – so anyone au fait with Morse Code can easily read it. Furthermore, the problem of  spine widths absorbing the logo, will be rationalised using the device of ‘extending the text-box’ so to speak, thereby allowing the text to flow within. This maintains the integrity of the individual letter – even though the intention is not one to be able to read it necessarily – whilst also acknowledging the  digital world in which this press is located.

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