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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Alan celebrates best of the written word

A FORTHCOMING exhibition aims to mark the ‘death’ of the printed word and the birth of the digital age.

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Celebrating the written word: Alan Cleaver’s forthcoming exhibition, Last Writes, will look at the battle between the eBook and the real book

Last Writes – A Requiem for the Printed Word is being staged at Florence Arts Centre, Egremont by freelance journalist Alan Cleaver.

Mr Cleaver, 53, of Church Street, Whitehaven, said: “Our society has been quick to grasp the digital future with its ebooks, iPads and other devices. And rightly so as they offer cheap, global and instant communication.

“But let’s not rush to throw the past into the dustbin. I want this exhibition to celebrate the best of the written and printed word – particularly in Cumbria.”

One of the items on display will be the oldest known piece of writing from Cumbria – a 6th century lullaby called Dinogad’s Smock.

“It was rediscovered by academics in 1990. Previously it was thought to have been a Welsh lullaby but some clever detective work shows it’s almost certainly one written by a Cumbrian mother to her child – it mentions the waterfall at Derwentwater which we now know as Lodore Falls.

“After more than 1,500 years it’s still a very moving poem demonstrating how the written word can communicate across the centuries.”

Part of the exhibition will look at ebooks and the digital future.

Mr Cleaver said: “I love ‘real’ books and still use an ink fountain pen but I’m not anti the digital age. Indeed, as a newspaper editor I pioneered both websites and e-newspapers.

“But my worry is that digital books have a very short lifespan. The Cumbrian lullaby Dinogad’s Smock survives after 1,500 years. But how many people could find a Word document or email on their computer that dates back more than five years?”

The exhibition will also look at banned books, the future role (if any) of libraries and a collection of the best and worst newspaper headlines from the last 100 years.

The exhibition runs at Florence Arts Centre, Egremont, during April. Admission is free. See www.florencemine.org for opening times and directions.

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