Thursday, February 11, 2010

It’s Art, But Is It Heraldry?

Is it even heraldic art? Brooklyn-based artist Sarah G. Sharp has begun a project that re-imagines the links between heraldry, class, and power. “From Dexter to Sinister: Exquisite Blazonry for the Disenfranchised” (, a collaborative art project, pairs visual artists with writers. To quote from the “About the Collaboration” page of the website: “Writers begin by creating a ‘blazon.’ They are asked only to be aware of the history and practice of blazonry, but [to] interpret the process in any way they see fit. The written blazon is then passed on to a visual artist via e-mail. They can then interpret and respond in any way they wish, creating a ‘crest’ from which another writer can make a ‘blazon.’”
A number of other artists and writers have gotten involved. One, Leni Zuma, created a “blazon” for Crest VII (image above) which can be found on her blog at

“From Dexter to Sinister” will be included in the exhibition Here, There and Everywhere, part of the next Transcultural Exchange Conference (Boston, April 8-10, 2011).


  1. Wow.

    Since I am merely a spectator, I will inflict my opinion upon you.

    What the heck?! I can see how the artist was trying to make a connection to traditional heraldry, but some of those blazons are just plain weird, not to mention the emblazonments. To me, traditional blazons have a sort of esoteric beauty about them. The blazons of this "re-imagining" project seem to want to find the poetry of blazon without making any sense. As well write "It was a dark and stormy night, argent and sable, with slithy toves or gimbling in the wabe gules."

  2. Then again, my wife thought it was very striking art work.

    Oh well...

  3. Heraldry ? no. Art ? probably. Nice to look at ? yes.
    While i think this is a nice project it has nothing to do with heraldry whatsoever and that is because the basic rules and premises have been chucked out of the window. With a blazon the same arms will painted by different artists albeit in their own style, the pictures will look different but are at the core still the same. This is what is missing, in this project they start with a "blazon" and make a picture then based on that picture another "blazon" is made and a picture etc. Now if they all started with the same "blazon" the result would be more interesting and also more in line with heraldry.

  4. I agree heraldry is a clearly defined system of rules and colours and does not leave much open to interpretation apart from the artists particular style. The good thing is that projects like this bring awareness of heraldry to a greater audience and if that leads to helping preserve this subject that is good news especially for heraldic artists like me ! For anyone interested in seeing some finely painted coats of