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The Isle of Man's Cathedral Logo Inspires

Chris Dickman Fri, 02/07/2014 - 03:19

Wondering what the dullest, most uninspired category of logo might be? Try churches. These are almost without exception timid efforts that combine a tired emblem of some kind, or perhaps a silhouette of a spire, with the name of the church in a knockoff of Trajan. And this isn't just the case for your friendly neighborhood church — even ancient cathedrals, dripping with architectural glory and a rich past, aspire to nothing higher. Bizarre, when you think about it.

So it's within the context of this graphical wasteland that a shout-out must be given to the logo recently introduced by the cathedral of the Isle of Man. This tiny island lies off the coast of Great Britain, in the Irish Sea, and is notable for being a self-governing British crown dependency. There is evidence to suggest that its parliament, Tynwald, is the oldest continuously existing ruling body in the world. The audaciousness of the new design is all the more remarkable given the diminutive size of the cathedral. We're not talking Notre Dame de Paris, here. And yet the design, created by Titman Firth, is light years ahead of anything else I was able to find — let me know if I missed any gems and I'll add them to this post.

But let's take a look at what lies behind those two squiggly lines in the logo. The larger one on the right is apparently a G, in reference to St. German, in whose name the cathedral is dedicated. Then there's a semblance of a fish in the left-hand line, which is not only a symbol of Christianity but relates to the fishing industry of the region. The next reference is a bit of a stretch, with some element of the logo said to look like a bishop's crozier, or staff. We're back on firmer ground with echoes of the work of Archibald Knox, a local designer and craftsman who incorporated Celtic motifs into his art nouveau graphic design and decorative arts work, some examples of which are shown below. Finally, we're told that the sense of motion in the logo is in phase with the Manx triskelion, shown at right, which is employed on the island's flag and coat of arms. Sure, why not.

But while the preceding explanations for the logo are worthy enough, I think the design stands on its own. For example, it's being used effectively on the cathedral's website, shown below. I can only hope that other churches will take note of this refreshing design direction and rethink the unimaginative, lifeless logos that are currently the norm. Excelsior!