Tuesday, 26 December 2017

CLAS Heraldic Arts course

I recently completed the CLAS certificate in skills course on Heraldry for Calligraphers. Our tutor was Tim Noad one of the heraldic artists who work at the College of Arms in London who also happens to be a member of Oxford Scribes and a fellow of the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society in England.

two studies of crowns

and of mantling...

One of the requirements of the course is to produce a major piece of finished work. I decided to do something based on one of the Queen's Beasts from her coronation - that of the Beaufort Yale. I was delighted that the US publication Bound and Lettered asked to publish an article based on this work. This is the wording used in my final piece:

The Beaufort Yale

one of the Queen’s Beasts

The Yale had many medieval forms but all agreed on its ability to swivel its horns as an effective means of defence.

It first appeared in heraldry as a supporter of the arms of John, Duke of Bedford, son of Henry IV who died in 1435. His Yale was black with long straight horns and the grace of a gazelle.

The earldom was revived a few years later and conferred on Sir John Beaufort a grandson of John of Gaunt and was passed to Margaret, Henry VII’s mother. The Beaufort Yale is of heavier appearance, more like a goat but with horns, tusks and the tail of a lion. It is white with gold spots known as bezants.

He carries the arms of Lady Margaret Beaufort and holds the shield with portcullis and arched royal crown, used by Henry VII and now by Somerset Herald.

as usual the first stage is the lettering - here I have ruled up and traced down my design on stretched vellum. This is an old piece of vellum bought at SSI Lay Members Day and it is nicely aged and a natural colour.

stage two - add the coloured lettering...

next apply gesso and gold leaf

my work station! using quite detailed roughs for reference

the shell gold has been added but not burnished yet...

adding the areas of blue,

and red,

and the greens for the mound.

masking the around the area I was painting.

the finished work as submittted for assessment.

After feedback from Tim I changed the tassels on the ropes to make them bigger and worked a bit more on the shading on the Yale.

CLAS Festival of Calligraphy 2016

In 2016 I co-directed our second CLAS festival 2016 at Leeds with Andi Bennett. (the beautiful lettering above was done by Judith Porch in David Harris's workshop)

Our accommodation was excellent being pretty new and all in the same block. We had an eventful start with very tired delegates after a long drive in the rain and less than competent organisation from the events management team of the university which meant we got off to a difficult start.

Once again we invited suppliers to come to the start of the festival and many delegates took advantage of this either ordering their materials in advance for collection on the day or to pick up a few extra items.

However, our workshops got off to an excellent start with our brilliant and professional team of tutors  of Georgia Angelopoulos, Loredana Zega, David Harris, Joy Daniels, Penny Price and Marlene Gray who were complimented on the quality of their workshops in our feedback forms and we all saw the results of this work in our second show and tell session at the end of the week.

  Georgia Angelopoulos's examples were all laid out at the end of the room and frequently referred to!

student work from Georgia's first session

 student's work from Loredana Zega's workshop

pointed uncials from Joy Daniel's workshop

some beautiful botanical illustration from Penny Price's workshops
All the A2 board sized bags, with Loredana’s brush lettering, were sold and make a fantastic and useful reminder of the week. Below is my initial visualisation.

We had several excellent talks in the evenings with our tutors happily sharing their experiences and in-depth knowledge of their subject. Loredana surprised us with a very personal performance including dance and lettering with a slideshow accompaniment.

Our gala dinner was a lovely way to say thank you and farewell to everyone. We had a fantastic display of place names which were made to take home by the recipients – most of whom never found out who had made theirs – though one or two people did fall for our joke and wrote out a card for Ms. Ann Letterer!!

this was my contribution! (above)

We continue to build on our experience of running the festival and have made a few changes such as the show and tell and having the suppliers available at the beginning.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Collage and Family Trees...

I have recently completed a very personal family tree. It was for the Art and the Letter exhibition at the CLAS AGM last year. I was enthusiastic when the topic was suggested at a committee meeting, saying "I have been meaning to do my family tree for ages!" So now I was obliged to get it finished in time to send off in February.

I have completed several pieces of work that have been collages and relate to landscapes and the natural world. The first was this piece that I worked on after being given the idea of layering tissue paper with natural food gelatine to stop the ink bleeding when doing a CLAS i2a course at Cheddar:

 The second was an excerpt from the community poem Dart by Alice Oswald. I used the flow of a river from a trickle at its source to the wide old age stage, the rocks on the banks and stepping stones with layers of tissue papers. I used watercolour in the background and pulled the resist lettering forward through the layers with coloured pencil...

Next was piece started with Oxford Scribes and the late Gerry Glaister after a residential weekend for members at the old Wiltshire Study centre at Urchfont - now sadly closed. We worked on three different texts in the same piece...


Then my biggest commission for Salisbury Hospital; three pieces using the words of the poet in residence. The hospital overlooks the plains and countryside of south Wiltshire

I also drew on some ideas I had had on a workshop with Mick Paine at the CLAS festival in 2010 on rules and randomness

I have done two family tree commissions in the past - the first was all in French and went back to 1400. By the time I had finished it I realised I had hopelessly underestimated the amount of work required

Shortly after Christmas I started work on mine... 

I had done a workshop on family trees with Sylvie Gokulsing at Oxford Scribes a few years ago and had been alerted to some of the complexities faced with designing these historical documents. I didn't want to leave anything out and I also wanted to create a contemporary piece.

I looked out all the information I had about the family. I had been collecting bits and pieces over recent years and two members of the wider family had done some quite extensive research so we had information that went back to the 18th Century including a semi famous painter on my husbands side and cobblers and cave dwellers from Herefordshire on my side.