Clean lines, precise detailing and shapes galore – these are just a couple of visual reasons why these 18th century garden plans are our #mapofthemonth.

The park and garden were merged into one during the Georgian era. Features like the ha-ha (a stock-proof boundary invisible from the house) helped to achieve this stylised look. Other features, like the walled kitchen gardens were sited out of view or screened by the latest craze, the shrubbery.

The concept of the ‘landscape park’ was ultimately a British style which would influence gardens throughout Europe.
We know – they aren’t exactly maps! But the skill in the technical drawing compares with a beautifully drawn map by a professional cartographer (and we really do love our hand drawn maps here at The Way!)

‘A Plastic Ocean’ reviewed

A sparkling deep blue view of the ocean beneath the waves, the opening shot of the film – and an impactful one at that – and this, a fantastic quote to kick-start an emotional rollercoaster…

“…consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” – Moby Dick

I was fortunate enough to land a ticket to Bristol Media’s recent private viewing of A Plastic Ocean. I knew I’d find this film a hard watch and I knew what I was getting myself into. But still, it grabbed me in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Jo Ruxton – what a lady. Working for the WWF in Asia for 7 years, before joining the BBC Natural History Unit as a Producer. Today, she is the co-founder of the Plastic Oceans Foundation and Producer of the film A Plastic Ocean.

Her ambition and drive was immediately apparent as she introduced the film. Eight years in the making, she never gave up her dream of getting this film out into the public domain. And it’s paid off – going live on Netflix next week and ready to buy and download from the website. However, awareness is just the tip of the iceberg. Action is needed, now.

‘More than eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the sea every year.’

Just one of the horrifying stats revealed in the film, and one that is simply incomprehensible. You can’t even put it into context or imagine how, or more importantly, why this happening.

This is one of the reasons I believe this film is a game changer. Forcing us to ask these questions and not only demanding answers but also solutions. The realisation that we can’t keep being supplied with an idealistic view of nature; holiday brochures, TV Ads and even nature documentaries – they are all guilty of shading us from what is the reality of beaches and rivers full of plastic bottles.

“I’m positive, because it’s better than the alternative.” – Tanya Streeter, Champion Freediver and Plastic Oceans Foundation Ambassador

Hope is an emotion I didn’t think I’d feel after watching this film considering the amount of hard-hitting content it provided. However, the projects and initiatives shown at the end of the film tackling this monstrous problem are simply incredible.

To list a few:






Once the credits arrived, I don’t think there was a dry cheek in the house. The feeling of being in a room of passionate people, watching something so momentous, was just incredible.

After the credits, Jo Ruxton came back to the front and did a Q&A of the film.

Obviously, the response was overwhelmingly positive. There were quite a few filmmakers there and the praise for the production was sky-high. I still think we should have given her a standing ovation!

However, there was another prominent feeling in the room, frustration. It was palpable from some people – the lack of knowing how to go about tackling this problem as an individual.

Jo’s responses were pretty straightforward:

Spread the word and demand change.

There was an overall suggestion in the film that the ‘bottom up’ approach was possible – that maybe legislation wasn’t the only route to change.

There was a point in the film focussing on supermarket food packaging. The discussion turned to how maybe a way of combating this was taking your food out of the packaging and leaving it in the supermarket to deal with – can you imagine if everyone did this in one hour, or a day or a week in a supermarket?! There would be mountains of plastic for them to sort out. But the message is a strong one, it has to provoke a knee-jerk reaction.

She said that this was an extreme case. But another less dramatic method that could be initiated by individuals could be a plastic free aisle – like a lot of health food shops are now doing. Once the demand for this is strong from individuals who shop there, there is also pressure for the supermarket to open another plastic free aisle with more products, and another, and another, so on and so on.

I could go on and on about the questions that were asked. But overall, Jo took some pretty hard questions and dealt with them in a professional, concise but caring manner. I was seriously impressed.

After leaving the screening, I felt slightly shell-shocked. And all the stats, images and questions were spinning around in my head. But one slice of information really stuck with me…

‘Plastic pollution now reaches virtually every part of the planet. One of the most observable changes on the planet in the last 50 years has been ‘the ubiquity and abundance of plastic debris. It is likely that in the first ten years of this century we have used more plastic than we did during the whole of the last.’

And despite the fact my mind felt like it was racing at a hundred miles per hour, one thing was crystal clear. We need change, and we need it now.

Reviewed by Becky Root






Navigating yourself around a new city can be daunting enough – add a set of wheels into the mix, and it can be ever more confusing and intimidating.

No more! These pocket sized, beautifully but fuctionally designed guides from Rapha banish the big, clunky fold out maps.

Every guide is illustrated by individual artists to give each book and city a unique aesthetic. Providing locations, destinations and experiences all designed in functional layouts – they’re a visual dream.

So far Rapha have released eight guides for the following locations:

• Amsterdam
• Antwerp/ Ghent
• Barcelona
• Berlin
• Copenhagen
• London
• Milan
• Paris

We’d love it if that they designed a guide for every city in the world… however that would mean 4,416 guides! Here’s hoping!





Can interpretation change the world?

Belfast Conference review
13 October 2016
“Can Interpretation Change the World?” – The Art of Making a Difference

Belfast 5th to 7th October 2016

This was my first Aautumn-newsletter-carousel3HI Conference, and I approached the rather impressive Hilton Belfast with a sense of trepidation, uncertain about the coming few days and whether a newbie like myself would be out of my depth, bored to tears, or both.I needn’t have worried.

At the initial workshop event, the eminent and rhymingly-monikered Sam Ham, Professor Emeritus and all round Guru put everyone at ease with his opening statement “I know what you’re all thinking: Did my parents have a sense of humour?” and we were off.This really set the tone of the conference; deep knowledge lightly worn (with a sense of humour), happily and openly shared with all comers.

The papers and conversations over the next two days built on this. The conference sponsors (Mark Leslie from Martello Media and Andrew Todd from Tandem) used their papers not for any hard sell, but to highlight the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities in interpreting aspects of Irish History through their recent exhibition work. It was a pleasure to hear about live projects that were so cleverly, sensitively and impressively realised.

Other more academic papers were no less inspiring. Sam Ham effortlessly demonstrated why he’s held in such high regard all over the world, prowling and eyeing the room delivering thought-bombs like “Everyone is capable of doing the ‘right thing’ – but for their own reasons”.

Dr Antonietta Jimenez came all the way from Mexico to talk about recognising universal, shared human values in ancient cultures, developing the theme to a conclusion that came across something like ‘mankind constructs and uses stories as group therapy to cope with crises’, which blew me away.

Apologies I haven’t mentioned all the papers; all are deserving of mention and all (at least) provoked thought and inspired action, even if that action was only to babble incoherently about them over dinner with similarly enthused and inspired delegates.

Oh and we managed to squeeze in a couple of in-depth, exclusive, behind the scenes tours of the incredible Titanic Experience and the Ulster Museum.

autumn-newsletter-carousel2I can’t wait to take my place amongst the seasoned conference veterans next year, attempting to follow the example set to me this year by being as warm, welcoming, enthusiastic and thought provoking as possible…

Thanks to all the AHI trustees and organisers

Howard Swift





Interpreting the Tree Team

The project

April saw the official launch of the final phase of the Westonbirt Project. The project started with the 2014 opening of the Welcome Building and new parking facilities, and finished with the building of new areas at Westonbirt – the STIHL Treetop Walkway and the Wolfson Tree Management Centre (comprising the mess room and machinery store). If you’ve not been to Westonbirt Arboretum, or haven’t been for a while, now may be a good time to discover it!

We thought it might be useful to share our experience and the process from concept through to completion…


The brief

We were tasked with creating an engaging, low-tech interpretation area for visitors to learn about the work of the Tree Team and to connect them further with trees through a deeper understanding of what it takes to care for a living collection.





Following a site meeting to discuss the project, the concept went through various phases of development, taking into consideration the stakeholders involved in the project. Here you can see how it developed from our earlier initial sketch through to the approved final design.

The team were keen to use the skills of a local artist from the start and so following concept approval we briefed in Jody Thomas to visualise the elements (bottom pic).




Working with Antomic Woodworking on the production and build; they measured, cut and base painted the elements, built the frame to hold it all together and designed, cut and built the interactives. The flat sheets (made from 18mm Tricoya) were then delivered to Jody’s studio for spraying.




On a freezing day in December, Antomic installed the project on site. The following day they installed the panels then we went along with Jody to meet Antomic and the Westonbirt team to spray the back and do the finishing touches.

Development2 Development22



Part of the project also included design and production of a Hotspot sign in their house style to guide visitors from the main path through to the interpretation area.


Following the build and finish, the interpretation area can now be viewed by visitors. It includes a toolbox which is changed regularly and allows people to see smaller items which the Tree Team use, as well as a blackboard which is updated monthly by the team so visitors can see them at work around the arboretum and will know what they’re up to and a ‘book’ which gives further details about the science behind their work.




The official opening ceremony was held at the end of April when the walkway, mess room and machinery store were officially opened by Ellie Harrison of BBC’s Countryfile.

You can see a summary and finished photos of this project on our portfolio page.

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Top Five Tips on… Legibility in design

You want to make your content inclusive to as many audiences as possible, whether that’s in print or online. So here are our top five tips for making your designs legible, gleaned from years of experience plus guidance from RNIB and the Equality Act 2010:



Type 1

There’s much discussion about whether serif or san serif are more legible. Choose what works for the situation, what the audience might be more comfortable with, and don’t make it too fussy. Some serifs are hard to read, as are some san serifs, it’s a personal choice often. Headings can use ‘display’ fonts which can be more tailored to the item you’re creating (period style, more character etc). You should generally ensure that blocks of copy use simple, clear fonts such as Frutiger, Helvetica, Cambria. The less flourish on them, the easier they are to read.

The general rule is that italics and scripts, although fine for highlighted text, are harder to read as blocks of copy, as are very light fonts since they can seem to disappear. Bold and heavy weights can be used for headings but are not suitable for body copy. Upper case can be very clear when used for pulled out points but avoid blocks of copy with it.

In terms of sizes, all the fonts in the image above are written in the same point size so you can see how much variation there can be. For good legibility you want to pick a well-balanced font where the ascenders and descenders aren’t too long (that’s the top of the ‘d’ and bottom of the ‘p’). For printed items, 9.5pt for body can be perfectly legible if you’ve chosen a well-balanced font. On an information panel, generally the smallest size you can use is 14pt.


Contrast and colours

Type 2

You want to ensure maximum contrast when using copy over colour or imagery. Here I’ve shown you the same size and weight font used across several background images and colours. When using on a coloured or shaded background, make sure to use a very light/dark coloured font over a very dark/light image or colour. When a word is put over a noisy image with lots of contrast in itself, such as trees or mountains as here, it makes it very difficult to understand.

Equally, tonally similar colours make it hard to pick out words (as grey and yellow shown here). Never use red/green, grey/red or complementary colours as text and background together. They appear to zing and are just really hard to read, whether or not your reader is colour blind!





Type 3

All content needs a heading at a minimum, then body copy. Longer chunks of information (articles and such) are better broken up with subheads, bullets and pulled out quotes if suitable. This is called hierarchy of text as shown here: it starts short and big and filters down to body copy. Generally in print, short line lengths are easier to read, usually columns of up to ten words are fine. On panels, you want to keep the line lengths short, particularly for pull-outs as you don’t want people visibly moving their heads just to read the information! Hierarchy is important to consider both online, off line and in print.




Type 4

Good use of space can actually make copy more legible (particularly for dense or small copy). You’ll see in the hierarchy example, extra spacing between blocks of text. It enables the design to breathe and makes it more visually appealing than solid blocks of text. In the spacing example you can see the same copy used with left aligned text, force justified and with tight kerning (the space between the letters). Version one is best practice for legibility, as you can see. It’s easy to follow, well spaced and clearer than the other two.




Type 5

A last consideration for legible design which is particularly important to keep in mind for financial reports and statistics, is how the numerics appear. Some fonts have their numbers all sitting on the baseline, others break out of it as shown in the example. The latter can make it hard to follow lines within charts and spreadsheets unless shading or lines are used to separate them. If working on a number-heavy document, choose a font where there can be no ambiguity between numbers such as 3, 5 and 8 and 1 and 7, which can be commonly confused.

I hope this helps with your next project and has been an interesting read. If you’d like to talk further or have any questions about legibility in design, please do get in touch via our Facebook page. I could go on but I’ve tried to keep it brief!