O+M Snowhome design store launches £3,000 Kickstarter scheme for Alison Hardcastle to make Word Map of York

A teaser for a Word Map of York, the next project for O+M Snowhome and artist Alison Hardcastle, pending Kickstarter funding

MATT and Helen Harris are launching a new project tomorrow to create a Word Map of York at O+M Snowhome, Gillygate, York.

“Snowhome’s previous owner, Angus McArthur, developed the first Word Map – of the British Isles – ten years ago with Yorkshire artist Alison Hardcastle,” says Helen. “Ten years on, there’s been a Word Map of London and even one of the USA, but never one of York.

“Having spent a lot of time exploring the city over the past 18 months, we felt it was the right time to celebrate all the city has to offer with a Word Map of York. So, we’re setting up a £3,000 Kickstarter campaign from tomorrow (22/9/2021) to crowdfund to allow us to commission Alison to create the artwork and bring the maps to life.”

Independent design store Snowhome was founded in 2001 by artist and printmaker Angus McArthur, after he moved to York from London, and was transformed into O+M Snowhome by Matt and Helen in July 2020 once Angus decided to focus on York Ghost Merchants in Shambles.

“O+M Snowhome has a long tradition of creativity and collaboration and its popular Word Map series is a firm favourite among customers visiting the lifestyle store,” says Helen. 

“As the shop celebrates its 20th birthday, at a point in our lives when many of us have been staying at home more than we could have ever imagined, we’ve decided it’s time to celebrate the city with a Word Map of York.” 

Matt says: “Like many people, we’ve spent much of the past 18 months exploring the place we call home. Those daily walks took us on new routes and found us making unexpected discoveries, creating a new-found appreciation and gratitude for the city we live in. 

Mapped out: Alison Hardcastle at work creating her Word Map of London

“We were very aware of York’s rich history and well-known sites, but what we also discovered were the natural spaces, community links and little-known facts that, like so many places people call home, all combine to sum up the spirit of the city.” 

After researching the city and gathering recommendations, Matt and Helen now have more than 200 possible entries to form the content for a new Word Map of York, created once again with Alison Hardcastle. 

As with the others in the series, the map will comprise word entries hand-drawn by Alison to form the mapped shape of the city, creating a unique typographic artwork that celebrates the people, creations, events, culinary delights, fun facts and much more, all linked with the city. 

“At a time when many of us are enjoying the chance to explore new places once again, we hope the map will serve to share York’s hidden gems with locals and visitors to the city alike,” says Helen. 

Artist Alison is no less excited at the prospect of returning to the Word Map family. “Spending time hand-lettering the entries to form the artwork is always so therapeutic and I can’t wait to see how we can create a map that really celebrates the unique character of York,” she says.

Tomorrow’s launch of the Kickstarter campaign will seek to crowdfund the money to enable Matt and Helen to commission Alison to create the artwork exclusively for the shop and bring it to life in their next run of Word Map prints.

Like all Kickstarter campaigns, the project will need to raise its full funding goal to go ahead. To achieve their £3,000 target, the couple have created a range of options from single greetings cards to an opportunity to own the first copies of the map print. 

Helen and Matt Harris in the doorway of O+M Snowhome, in Gillygate, York

“As a special thank-you to anyone able to help make the map a reality, backers to the campaign will be able to enjoy early bird offers on the finished art prints, access to an exclusive 20th birthday colourway, plus the chance to own one of ten unique screen-prints of the finished map, which will include a bespoke entry of the backer’s choice, each hand printed, signed and numbered by Alison in her studio,” says Matt. 

As Matt and Helen want to share the benefits of the project, they look forward to continuing the long-standing relationships with Alison and printers Wood Richardson in bringing the maps to life. 

“It’s been an economically tough time for many, so it’s especially important to us that if the project can go ahead, it helps to fire opportunities for other creatives and businesses,” says Matt.

“If the campaign is successful and the project can go ahead, the maps will all be ready for backers to receive in time for the Christmas gift season in December. The Kickstarter campaign launches on September 22 with some early bird offers until midnight on September 26. The campaign will end at midnight on October 7.” 

To find out more about the Word Map of York Kickstarter campaign, go to snow-home.co.uk/awordmapofyork or visit their Kickstarter page at  kickstarter.com/projects/wordmapofyork/york-word-map-a-city-celebration. 

The story behind O+M

HUSBAND and wife team Matt and Helen Harris took over ownership of long-standing York contemporary design shop Snowhome in July 2020 from its founder Angus McArthur.

“O+M Snowhome was born as we brought the offer from own own homewares and lifestyle shop, Owl & Monkey, in Heslington Road, to Snowhome, bringing together the shared values of creativity, collaboration, innovation and inspiration, where quality, good design and fairness were at the heart of the range and independent retail experience,” they say.