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A gallery identity without symbols or logos

The identity Alt Group came up with for the Auckland Art Gallery has to be one of the most innovative you'll ever come across. It's not a logo, symbol, marque, badge, shield or flag. No, the identity for the Auckland Art Gallery is a three-line poem.

In fact, it can be any three-line poem as long as the first word has an 'A' in it, the second word an 'R', and the last word a 'T'. The words are then stacked so that the word 'ART' is spelled out in red, and there you have the gallery's identity.

Co-founder Dean Poole has come up with all sorts of applications of the identity. On the cover of the programme, it says 'A Curious Visit'. In the gift shop you can buy 'A Red T-shirt'. On a pencil you might find 'A Sharp Point'. And under an umbrella, 'A Dry Spot'.

"We chose it because we believed that a language-based identity would appeal to the public more - just the same as a crossword would or a puzzle - than a photograph of art," says Poole. "With a photo, straight away they'll go, 'It's not for me'."

He drew on some pretty broad references to come up with the idea. The identity is what's called a mesostic poem, which, Poole explains, was invented by John Cage in 1976. So far Poole has written 3,600 of them for the gallery.

Words: Garrick Webster

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