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To Be Frank

15th September, 2015 by Mark

An on-going personal project involving family history, graphic design and book making.

I was probably a kid the last time I was so excited opening a Xmas present.
My Grandad was a special bloke… he had the booming voice of a tenor and told it how it was. There was no bullshit and I think that’s the one thing I’m most pleased that he passed down through the gene pool. He loved to tell wild stories about the olden days and I never tired of listening to him while we drank coffee and munched on Anzac biscuits.

We found out he had terminal cancer and wouldn’t be with us for long. For his last Xmas I wanted to do something a bit different and set about building him a family tree. We talked endlessly about our family, the skeletons in the closet, the good and the bad. We managed to research way back to 1780. Turns out we’re actually Yorkshiremen.
Not sure how I feel about that.

We spoke at length about his life during the war. His 'Uncle Albert’ stories were brilliantly entertaining and he never held back on his tales of life on the high seas in the Royal Navy. Coffee and biscuits are good catalysts for creative conversations.

On Xmas day morning he unrolled his family tree and at the same time I unwrapped a wooden chest full of old photos, diaries and letters. From his drafting in 1943 to the allied invasion of Italy and the end of the war in the Pacific. He’d put together a treasure chest for me.

It turns out the box was actually made in 1914 by my Great Grandad and has survived the last century and two world wars. The photos inside are old, delicate and my most prized possession; my Grandad’s diaries, are fragile and falling apart. My Gramps is now gone, but I’ve just finished scanning all the documents and typing up his diaries so they’ll never fade.

Okay, so I’m a designer and I’ve got all this incredible material to play with. I want to create something really special that he would of loved. I’m thinking a beautiful handcrafted book.. a ‘new' diary? Bookbinding, graphic design, letterpress...

A work in progress…

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