Saville and Kelly’s memorial to Tony Wilson

In death as in life: Peter Saville and Ben Kelly’s memorial to their friend and collaborator Anthony H Wilson is three years late, but it was worth the wait

In death as in life: Peter Saville and Ben Kelly’s memorial to their friend and collaborator Anthony H Wilson is three years late, but it was worth the wait

Factory Records founder Anthony H Wilson died in August 2007. Just over three years later, a memorial headstone designed collaboratively by Wilson’s long-term associates Peter Saville and Ben Kelly with Paul Barnes and Matt Robertson, was unveiled in The Southern Cemetery in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester.

The black granite headstone carries a quote, chosen by Wilson’s family, from The Manchester Man, the 1876 novel by Mrs G Linnaeus Banks (aka Isabella Varley Banks), the story of one Jabez Clegg and his life in Victorian Manchester. The quote is set in Rotis.

Typography by Matt Robertson. Photographs: Jan Chlebik.

This story has been updated with additional information since first posted.

 

  • The typography is beautiful.

  • Don’t get me wrong it’s lovely and moving. But 3 years?

  • Quite perfect and beautiful in so many ways.

  • Typeface?

  • We did a project with Saville a couple of years ago. He said there some ‘typographic opportunities’ which is the best euphemism for ‘client amends’ we’ve ever had. Lovely piece of work above. Very fitting to the Manchester legend.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ James

    I’m just waiting for a few more details – including confirmation of the typeface. Will add to the post once I hear

  • Understated and beautiful. No FAC number?

  • Beautiful.
    “But if you could just see the beauty,
    These things I could never describe,
    These pleasures a wayward distraction,
    This is my one lucky prize.” (Joy Division)

  • I believe that it took 3 years down to long discussions with family members. As with all things that surround Peter Saville he wanted it to be ‘just so’, please reference the expression that Jan Tschichold makes here: http://designmuseum.org/media/item/4799/-1/101_4Lg.jpg

  • @Daniel

    His casket has the FAC number 501 and if I remember his estate vowed that would be the last thing catalogued

  • I love the delay. I doubt Wilson would have expected anything else.
    What Daniel said… a FAC number could have been a nice touch.

  • Shaun

    They could at least have fitted it with a mechanism whereby everything surrounding it disappears up it’s own arse too.

  • Paul

    Nice!

  • Matthew Jarsky

    It’s Rotis Serif. And I like it.

  • Ari Sherman

    Peter Saville. Three years. That would be about right. And the result speaks for itself.

  • This the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen… So sad I missed it when I visited Manchester

  • KEVIN GRIMWOOD

    new order esque. beautiful!

    !

  • The lateness definitely in keeping. Looks beautiful. He needed something that suited his ego.

  • Lovely as it is.
    It should have been in Industrial orange and royal air force blue. If you catch my drift.

  • Anthony

    When Anthony died, another broadcaster he dated some years previously, when they were both stars of local TV, described how he would drive his Jag home, sharing a big spliff with with each other, and a back seat full of flowers for company, down Princess Road, which runs alongside the Cemetery. Made me laugh. First class bloke and an outstanding Northerner.

    Anthony’s legacy is mocked a little by those clowns who made 24 Hour Party People, however the people who were there know the invaluable contribution to Manchester Anthony made.

  • st albans

    FAC 616

  • dave

    Love the “to the memory of E” gravestone in the background 😉

  • Glenn Kitson

    Suave

  • Elizabeth

    Very lovely memorial.

  • Nigel

    The similarity to FAC004 demonstrates what everyone knows, Saville’s best work is now 30 years old.

    This looks like the business card of the creative director of a provincial design agency.

  • Darren scott

    Why no full stops?
    Makes the typesetting look poor!
    Love the layout though!

  • Wow! I live (and work) just across the road from the Southern Cemetary and may pop across Barlow Moor Road for an ambiguous designer gawp… I’m not a big fan of Rotis (I think it’s prissy and pretentious) but I think it’s a fair choice for Tony Wilson’s gravestone! Unfortunately, judging by the photographs, the typeface hasn’t quite survived being carved in stone at such a small letter size (particularly for the quote at the bottom)… although the ghastly, preening letter “e” still comes through, like a ghostly wail…

  • john d

    typeface…? ha ha ha ha ha

    from the colloseum in nelson all the way to the heights of the ha´c

    typeface…? ha ha ha ha ha

    the disconnect is staggering, but that’s graphic designers for you

  • howie

    i’ve just had a wander around southern cemetery. couldn’t find it. has anyone been and know where it is? thanks x

  • Robbie Pickering

    When I go I certainly don’t want my gravestone in bloody Rotis.

  • Is it tacky to want a similar headstone for myself?

  • Hesketh Pearson

    As with Durutti Column : I love the delay.

  • A beautiful piece of work. Tasteful, traditional whilst also contemporary. Well done! A befitting memorial to a legend of pop culture.

  • darren hoggett

    Beautiful. Three years delay makes it even more worthwhile. Will Peter Saville be late for his own funeral?

  • A beautiful piece of work. Tasteful, traditional whilst also contemporary. Well done! A befitting memorial to a legend of pop culture.

  • john

    hahaha

  • MLA

    As considered as the type is, the application looks sand-blasted, or possibly machine engraved, rather than hand-carved. This usually produces a boxed indent (i.e. flat bottom with vertical sides) rather than the V indentation of hand-carving. Such techniques often make for short-lived quality, as the boxed indent is prone to chipping and weathering at a much faster rate than the sloped sides of hand-carving.

  • MLA, you must lead an exciting life eh? All machine guns, Aston Martins and fit blonds….

  • Alex

    It took 4 of them to come up with this

  • Some really great typography there.

  • Michael

    3 year??!! hope didn’t have to pay for it. could have came up with better #$%^ in 3 days.

  • Foo

    In fifty years this headstone will be unreadable. The text is too small, too shallow, and carved into the stone without consideration about how it will wear.

    Headstones are meant to last centuries. Immediate prettiness is a secondary concern. This is a classic example of the failure of form over function.

  • dan7am

    It’s certainly individual, but as others have said, it won’t last. Plus 3 years is almost embarrassingly long for something this simple – although the client was clearly in no rush…

  • it might get stolen anyway…. but it`s beautiful, katja and fotoreportage23-in search of ian curtis (the book is dedicated to mr. tony wilson)

  • Dustin Zahn

    The fact that it took Peter Saville 3 years to do so is kind of brilliant. He was famously notorious for missing deadlines, and often delivered gig posters after the gig had already occured. I think Tony would have found it fitting.

  • n

    “cultural catalyst” on a headstone??

  • Wasted on the West Coast

    Some of these comments are hard to fathom. It’s clean, classy and brilliant. Why dissect it so much?

  • Brian

    Reminds me a little bit of this tombstone in Kensal Green Cemetery.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/75077866@N00/5116694452/

  • Andrew

    Plenty of space for someone spray the obligatory “wanker” on it.
    RIP Tony

  • Tony Wilson’s fingerprints are still on the best bands around today.

    I’ve just decided what I want my memorial stone to look like. Which is a bit strange as a 24-year-old I guess…

  • Darren Stuart

    Striking. Like all Factory-related artwork, it hits you straight away. Love the idea of minimalism. Think it’s fair to say that Anthony H Wilson would have approved. I don’t agree with any of the negative comments. I don’t know art at all, but it does stand out amongst the other gravestones aas it is so different. Bit like seeing one of the black and white Joy Division videos by Anton for the first time.

  • Jeff Knowles

    Tony Wilson’s coffin was given a Factory catalogue number – FAC 501

  • 3 years is more than a bit of a wait. What else was he up to – hope he didnt spend the whole 3 years just on this.

  • CraigS

    The type has shades of Rotis, which was ‘Factory’.

  • Robin

    Three years is not a long time to put up a headstone. Most graves sit unmarked for at least a year to let the ground settle, and this has clearly taken more work than the standard version.

    Also, this headstone could be around for hundreds of years, what’s an extra few months at this stage?

    A beautiful tribute.

  • sam

    What are the proportions of the stone, is it 2.21:1 like the monolith in 2001?

  • Mac

    Robin ‘…and this has clearly taken more work than the standard version’

    Really? Has it? How do you know? Just because it looks ‘designed’?

    For us designers it might well be a nice drop of layout, (loving the er, black space), but come on folks, let’s stop the gratuitous fawning simply because Saville was involved with it.

  • Saul

    B&Q do a kitchen work top just like this. Looks great with their lime woodgrain effect cupboards.

  • Hesketh Pearson: “As with Durutti Column : I love the delay”

    QOTD

  • FUaOslo

    Going there next week. Has anyone a “map” or description where about it is. Thanx a lot.

  • Beautiful, precise type & layout. Stands out by being discreet. Very appropriate in my view.

  • My goodness it’s beautiful!
    I am without speech.

    Reminds me of the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey.

  • Joe Fazak

    Love It, great font an’ all, but I’ll hang on for the 12 inch to come out.

  • Gary

    Shame they couldn’t add Fac502

  • Mr Splodge

    If it had a Factory number on it, someone would steal it.
    Besides, Wilson himself wasn’t a Factory product.
    You can bet they seriously considered putting one one there though…

  • Brett Wickens

    Beautiful work for a great man.

    @CraigS: We drew a custom version of Rotis for Factory. We used to call it “Factis” around the studio.

  • Mal Gibb

    FAC 999

    A shame they didn’t give it a factory records release number.

  • nathan mcgough

    With regard to comments concerning a FAC # – Wilson’s funereal casket has a solid silver plate that reads

    Anthony H. Wilson

    FAC 501

    The burial plot for those wishing to pay respect is through the main cemetary gates and first path on the left.

  • It took a year for the ground to settle and 6 months for the stone to be shipped from India… That means it only took Peter a year and a half. Type is laser etched and apparently will last forever.

  • David

    It’s a fitting tribute in my opinion. It seems a bit vulgar scoring ‘cool points’ making slating Wilson or Saville.

    But I suppose Tony / Anthony / H / Wilson would revel in the debate.

  • hooky

    Stands out Stands Proud! Much like the man. Well Done Petex Hooky

  • Arthur

    I agree with Hooky`s comment but I didn`t Know Tony was black and shiny. Shaun makes a good point. I don`t believe in death so I`m not visiting any graves. Lindsay Reade`s book is the best memorial so far Tony was actually a better(conceptual) artist than Picasso or Warhol or Hirst . Respect from all of us in The Royal Family & the Poor.

  • AndyB

    Stunning tribute, stands out from the crowd around it, a bit like Tony

  • Jon Anthony

    none more black

  • Going there next week. Has anyone a “map” or description where about it is. Thanx a lot.

  • peneloppe

    Isn’t it ROTIS for the Type?

  • chris

    looks like the iPhone 5

  • nice to see good modern design influencing this part of culture too.

  • Quite wonderful. Just like the great man himself.

  • anton

    dude if my tombstone looks like that i want you to dig me up and kill me again

  • NYMike

    My first thought is 2001: A Space Odyssey – but then that obelisk did represent intelligence so fitting – after that then, all it is missing is the Pulsar image from Unknown Pleasures.

  • Tony would love it, especially coming three years late. He would have appreciated that most. It must have the last fac #! Hooky, can’t you see to that? Yes it’s Rotis. Here’s to you, Tony!

  • Perfectly understated.

  • LGR

    Available at the Monocle shop.

  • HAHAHHA ^ top one

  • Eggnostriva

    Awful monument to a great man. This sand blasted black granite stone is everything that is wrong with modern memorial masonry. It wont last hundreds of years, it will last thousands. The grave sites are normally leased for 99 years. This stone will end its life being used as a paving stone or in a wall. Much better to use a local stone which will erode naturally as this mans family die off and memories fade.

  • tinkyink

    If you should visit the cemetery it’s interesting to note the location and that the late, great Anthony H has blagged himself a ring-side seat at Southern. Even in death, love him, hate him, can’t ignore him.I think his legacy lives on not just in the music but in the psyche of many mancunians of a certain age. Growing up in 70s/80’s Manchester was pretty grim & he was always there-with a sweep of the fringe, coming out with some outrageous comments. Manchester made me who I am-Wilson made me proud to say where I was from. I’d have chosen millstone grit but I love it. It fits.

  • Trypcil

    Absolutely wonderful, almost a mystical monolith – dare I say. Design in death, wild – fits design in life – nicely considered!

  • Malcolm

    Lovely, and quite fitting for Tony Wilson that it’s suitably late.

  • Harry

    Hmmmmm… I was walking through house of fraiser the other day.
    http://img28.imageshack.us/i/hofg.jpg/

  • kenneth

    It took three years to come up with this egotistical boredom?

  • Gary McMahon

    2001: A Space Odyssey will never look the same again.
    The obelisk in the film shares the same design as the headstone.
    The inspirational obelisk appears in Kubrick’s film every time mankind makes an evolutionary step forward.
    I’d say that’s a good monument to a catalyst.

  • Mark Nolan

    Negative comments pathetic. Critique pathetic. Headstone wonderful. Man legend. Manchester proud.

  • Colin Griffiths

    “My friend, he took his final breath. Now I know the perfect kiss is the kiss of death.” (New Order).

  • tinkyink

    Anthony H isn’t alone in the cemetery-there’s Rob Gretton fairly close by and Martin Hannett across the way-Manchester City Council has a map on their website but locations are: Tony Wilson Plot B, Grave 118
    Rob Gretton Plot G, Grave 278-not far from Wilson & Martin Hannett Plot FF, Grave 713- Hannett is across the way in the “new” part while Rob & Tony are in the part of the cemetery between Nell Lane & Barlow Moor Road. Something not quite right about the stillness & silence of these former whirlwinds of creativiity.

  • More memorials should reflect contemporary typography. That way, in future, we’ll be able to identify the year of someone’s passing by the design trend reflected on the headstone, as well as the date engraved upon it. I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek, of course. I really like this.

  • Argiri Bourtsos

    DIE NEUE TYPOGRAPHIE

  • David T Palmer

    Peter Savile was late for everything – remember the tickets for the first Hac gig, amusingly recreated in ’24 Hour Party People’? Some things never change (and thus are changeless).

    Savile had Tony Wilson’s eternity to get the headstone finished from August 2007, so three years is nothing in the scheme of things.

    RIP the now forever-late Tony Wilson.

  • Even in death, love him, detest him, can’t disregard him.I believe his legacy inhabits on not just in the melodies but in the psyche of numerous Mancunians of a certain age. Growing up in 70s/80’s Manchester was attractive bleak & he was habitually there-with a clear of the edge, approaching out with some outrageous comments. Manchester made me who I am-Wilson made me pleased to state where I was from.

  • Marvellous. What a wonderful quotation and a fatntstaic piece of art from Mr. Peter Saville. I wonder just how ashamed the late Mr. A.H.W. would feel if he knew Manchesster Council were about to overturn their own decision to refuse planning permission for ugly flats at Castlefield , in a conservation zone, so that peel developments could realise their dream of megolomania. Very sad. sad to lose a Manchester icon and sad to think Manchester’s been left to the vultures.

  • Paul

    The headstone for architect Mies Van Der Rohe is equally impressive:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mies_van_der_Rohe_headstone.JPG

  • JenBerMol

    Total art.

    Love it.

  • Even in death, love him, detest him, can’t disregard him.I believe his legacy inhabits on not just in the melodies but in the psyche of numerous Mancunians of a certain age. Growing up in 70s/80’s Manchester was attractive bleak & he was habitually there-with a clear of the edge, approaching out with some outrageous comments. Manchester made me who I am-Wilson made me pleased to state where I was from.

  • Marvellous. What a wonderful quotation and a fatntstaic piece of art from Mr. Peter Saville. I wonder just how ashamed the late Mr. A.H.W. would feel if he knew Manchesster Council were about to overturn their own decision to refuse planning permission for ugly flats at Castlefield , in a conservation zone, so that peel developments could realise their dream of megolomania. Very sad. sad to lose a Manchester icon and sad to think Manchester’s been left to the vultures. Felix

  • Love the simplicity and minimal clean approach.

  • The design is simple but beautiful and is a tribute to the fallen.

  • That is a beautifully designed headstone, simple and very elegant.

  • Anne

    The attribution for the quote says G Linneaus Banks. G is for George. But the book “The Manchester Man” was by Mrs G Linneaus Banks. She was called Isabella. George was her husband but didn’t write the book. Is this misattribution or is it unacceptable for Mr Wilson to have a Manchester quote by a woman?

  • it’s awesome, deal with it

    “It took three years to come up with this egotistical boredom?”

    Why egotistical? Too much thought and effort for you?

    “They could at least have fitted it with a mechanism whereby everything surrounding it disappears up it’s own arse too.”

    You call it pretentious, but if you really consider it, it is less ornate and grandiose than a lot of the traditional headstones people are used to seeing.

    “MLA, you must lead an exciting life eh? All machine guns, Aston Martins and fit blonds….”

    Yes, there are people out there who enjoy and appreciate typography. Maybe your idea of an exciting life is a little too ‘fictional hollywood cliche’ no?

    “3 year??!! hope didn’t have to pay for it. could have came up with better #$%^ in 3 days.”
    “Plus 3 years is almost embarrassingly long for something this simple”

    That’s a very juvenile and uninformed way of looking at the whole design process. Haven’t you ever heard the age old saying ‘less is more’?

  • Such a classy and tidy design. This goes to prove that minimalism often beats anything too complicated.

  • Beautiful design. Simplicity is a beauty. Less is more.

  • Jayne Z

    Does anyone know where to get the florist frog at the base of the headstone holding the white lillies?

  • I think it’s stunning and a fitting tribute

  • Beautiful, really like it!

  • Sally

    The fact that it took Peter Saville 3 years to do so is kind of brilliant. He was famously notorious for missing deadlines, and often delivered gig posters after the gig had already occured. I think Tony would have found it fitting.

  • Christina

    Simply Awesome! Especially the fonts… Christina

  • Authintic writting and lovely post about Saville and Kelly’s memorial to Tony Wilson . please keep it up .I have learn lots from you blogs