Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On a Venician bridge ...

Guess who I ran into in Venice. Why it's Carl Rohrs calligrapher extraordinaire!

It wasn't really a chance meeting. Christopher Hannes and Carl were going to try and get out to see me in Venice before they went off to teach over Padua way but unfortunately for us and him Christopher's plane came in too late for it to happen.

Next time!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Venice: day one

One of the places I am teaching for on my northern summer travels is La Scuola di Grafica in Venice. An excellent position in the Cannaregio sectoion of Venice. I am excited by this innovative school and thanks go to Kathy Frate for all her organising in bringing me here. I feel very fortunate. And of course, I have fallen in love with the city (more to come on that front).  I am staying in a private home with a balcony off my bedroom ... oh my god I am in heaven!  It is late but I thought I would post these before I head to the land of nod.

 One of the entrances to the scuola.

Passage way directly in front of the entrance above.

The canal entrance.

The canal, one of a zillion but this is the school's one.

My usual selfie!

Old rock in newer rocks.

Thrilled to bits to be here.

Scuola photos coming up as the week progresses.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Two and a half months ...

Two and a half months is a long time to be away from home. Teaching has of course, made my time away easier and pass sweetly.  There has been a lot of water under the (Golden Gate) bridge since I taught at the Sonoma State University in California for the Passionate Pen.  Weblog posts have been quiet since this time as I have been happily busy in a frenetic sort of way.

San Jose was my next workshop with twenty participants from the Pacific Scribes group. It was interesting having twenty participants in an "L" shaped chapel come community room.  I could see everyone but not everyone could see each other. It was almost like two classes of ten. The first thing they gave me was a microphone so I could be heard by everyone all of the time.  I enjoyed my time with this group who were keen to learn. The police even turned up to my lecture just to make sure I was in good hands.  Anna Lum was responsible for organising this visit and I enjoyed her company very much and the beautiful Ellie Green was a most gracious and kind host. The tree of us had fun going out to Dim Sum, Country Gourmet and Mexican.  We laughed a lot and we cried when we said goodbye.

It was a disastrous start leaving the US for the UK with United Airlines where I had to pay US$200.00  before they would allow me to drop my bag.  My travel agent Flight Centre, had let me down badly.  With an international baggage allowance of thirty kilos (I took 28kg), I started my trip from Tasmania completely unaware I would have to pay approximately two hundred pound ... two hundred Euro ... and two hundred US dollars on all my flights that were not to and from Australia.  These flights only have a twenty three kilo limit even though they were all international flights.  Some airlines let me through no problem but United Airlines stood their ground.  I am not going to risk having to pay excess on my Italian leg so I have sent all my books home and have given many of my clothes away to a charity shop.

I have complained to Flight Centre but the lass there became defensive and basically told me I should read the small print.  My question is, why have an international baggage allowance if you can't use it on other international flights.  Of course I am carrying everything I need to teach. For this little calligrapher it is quite a lot.  All I am trying to do is make a small contribution to the household income. If the Flight Centre staff had have told me I would have limited myself to twenty-three kilos.

Weary as I was, I was delighted to see Tony Woodhams at Heathrow airport. Then I knew I was in excellent hands.  Tony and Matt looked after me very well at Riverhill Cottage and I had a great time teaching Fraktur for the group, Cinque Ports Scribes. A lovely and very responsive group.

Then it was the train again from Sevenoaks to Euston to take the twelve-forty pm to Wilmslow in the north.  Here I taught in the most beautiful cabin in the most beautiful woods in Moss House to the Cabin Group. My hosts were Sue and John Goldstone.  I was unusually ill on the first morning of teaching. It was strange and unusual for me to be sick for no reason but I taught on regardless.  By the end of the day I was feeling one hundred percent better. Well enough to enjoy a pub meal Mobersley with a few of the group.

The next adventure was to drive to the Malvern Hills with Hilary Lewis to prepare for the CLAS Festival of Calligraphy. Expertly run by Helen Scholes and Andi Bennett at the Elim Conference Centre.  Not only was the scenery breathtaking the class participants were very responsive and I feel enjoyed the two workshop I had arranged to teach. The first being two and a half days of Biting the Bows and the second of the same duration Versals.

There are many very special collections that I have been very fortunate to see and study on this northern summer tour such as the Klingspor Museum, St Pauls Cathedral Library and Hereford Cathedral, these will all be written about when I don't have to rush. There will also be photos of these visits and all my ports of call.

I feel privileged to have been invited to so many places to work. I have met some really wonderful people, had tremendous hosts, many of whom shall remain firm friends.  After all, to me what I do is about sharing, leaving some goodwill and hopefully some good lettering behind before I leave.

Next stop Venezia ... I have never been.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Blue Books of Love

The conference program has been full to overflowing what with tutorials, class times, presentations and evening socials .... not to forget the party goers continuing long into the evenings. Who me?

The Blue Books of Love in the Passionate Pen Faculty Exhibition.

 In the cabinet.

You don't see this too often but I am thrilled to bits!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Golden Moment

I am grateful for and I thank all the kindhearted people who have helped make this trip from here to there and back again the wonderful adventure that it has become.  Yesterday after Elena Caruthers picked me up from San Francisco airport after a ten hour flight from London she asked if I would like to go for a walk ... there is nothing like stretching the legs ... across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Wow what a treat. A walk so special that I could hardly contain my excitement as I hung over the edge, took photos and often stopping to simply enjoy the view.  I didn't care that the weather was not quite ideal but I felt the fog and the grey skies enhanced the journey. What do you think?

Iconic - the Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

25th Anniversary plaque

I never forget to look down - as you may have already noticed!

Or up! The light whispy white in the sky is fog. In the summertime the fog drifts in, out and by most days. A strange phenomenon.

Lime Point Station

Fog on the hills in the background.

I am sure these rocks have names.

And there is no escaping it, I had to take this photo of Alcatraz!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ditchling 2015

One of the most wonderful things about a trip to Ditchling is to see original works by the artisans who lived and worked as a community in this south-east English village in the early 20th century. Also I like to go there to pay my respects to those who went before us.  Not only calligraphers and letter designers and carvers but print-makers, letterpress craftsmen, weavers and designers of all traditions. We learn something from them all.

One work stood out most of all for me on this day. The painting David Jones created for Petra Gill (daughter of Eric Gill) to whom he was engaged. The engagement was short-lived and they didn't marry but this painting though iconic is full of love, you can see it in the work. The Madonna & Child. It is not often you see the Madonna kissing her child and completely embracing him in her arms as lovingly as this.

Beautiful isn't it ... and what is interesting is my reaction to both this painting and the marble sculpture in the Waterperry Chapel yesterday, another mother and child.

Even the lawn rollers were not safe from the carver's chisel. "Come all you false young men do not leave me here to complain." from a song called the Seeds of Thyme. The next line is: for the grass that has been often times been trampled under foot.

How perfectly apt.

Edward Johnston 1872 - 1944 & Greta Johnston 1872 - 1936

It is easy to remember Johnston's birth and death date because he died aged 72, born in 1872 so death date must be 1944.  I know a lot of trivia but it works for me.

This is their foot-stone and it is engraved EJ + GJ

 A must see on every maker's list of places to visit!

This roll of text by Ewan Clayton offering grateful thanks to supporters of the Museum, greeted Tina and I on our entry.

Ewan Clayton (detail)


... is housed in a place called ...

The Barn where you will find original works by Edward Johnston, Thomas Ingmire, John Nash, John Woodcock, Patricia Gidney and Gerald Fleuss (and more).   Gerry very kindly showed my host Tina Warren, and I through The Barn and some of the special works held there. This was a lovely surprise I wasn't expecting. 

 Thank you both!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

... the 9.34 from Marylebone ...

First day of the weekend:

I have always been curious about the high profile UK gathering of creative people at Art in Action UK. It is held each year at Waterperry House, Waterperry, near Wheatley, Oxford.  As I was in London at the time the event was on I juggled my diary a little and worked out the walk/bus/train/bus/courtesy car route.  I left the Ridgemount at 8.30 am, walked to the bustop and took the #18 bus along Euston Road to Marylebone (pronounced Marleybone) Station and took the 9.34am to Haddenham (pronounced Had'nam) Thame Park, then taking the #280 Arriva bus to the Kings Arms (as you do) near Wheatley and waited for the courtesy car. It came in due course arriving at Art in Action approximately 11am. No bad. Costing for the day:

Return train ticket:                                23.60 GBP
Return bus ticket:                                   5.70
Entrance to Art in Action                     17.00
Lunch, slice of quiche & salad             10.75
Bus from home to station                       5.00

62.05 GB pounds = $131.28 one day for an art/craft fair? For an artist, I struggled a little especially converting to AUD.  Travel is expensive here and so too is food. It cost me 18.00 British Pounds entry into St Paul's the other day just to see the carvings and yet other places free entry with donation is acceptable. So I climbed the Dome to make up for it.

I am glad I went to satisfy my curiosity.  I was delighted to see and support the calligraphers, the print-makers, the textile art, the sculptures, the beautiful gardens but the joy for me was a little family chapel where I saw and touched the carvings. Touching was to feel the depth of the incision.

Here are some of my photos from today, do enjoy them:

I do love trains!

I find this a little odd and also a little discriminatory; if you haven't demonstrated before you are placed in the newcomers tent.  Of course I was expecting all the calligraphers to be together. Anyway I found them all!

How wonderful to see a big sign Calligraphy & Illustration, marvellous!

Helen Scholes. It was so lovely to meet Helen in person. We have emailed for so long it was just like meeting an old school friend. We had a lovely lunch and talked so much I almost made her late getting back to work.  Helen is one of the convenors for the CLAS Festival of Calligraphy for which I am teaching in Malvern UK next month. Brava Helen!

 There were at least a half dozen script artists at work.

Simon Sonsino.
I also met Simon for the first time as well even though we have been in contact for a while.  I had written a forward to his new publication Textual Art.


I was so taken with this work; the artist prepared the ground and invited the public to make their mark by writing something of their choosing. I would have liked to have stayed longer to see how the painting evolved but I couldn't. I may yet find out.

The Peace Obelisk in the gardens of Waterperry House
carved by Simon Buchanan

Waterperry House is owned by the School of Economic Science and Art in Action was conceived by some of it's students.

Scattered around the gardens were Life Journey banners. I particularly like these two.

The little parish church that lured me in ... I must say I am attracted to doorways.  
"When you walk through a doorway, watch out, for a new world may appear"

This sculpture and it's inscription moved me so much.

 The long "s"

A carved plaque high up on the church wall. This one confused me as I didn't know the quote, but I do now.

It is from Chauser's Canterbury Tales
The Parson 

"But Christ's own law, and His apostles' twelve
He taught but first he followed it himselve."

It is worth looking it up and reading the whole thing.

That was my Art in Action Day!

Next up


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hmmmm London

 Guess where ...

Summer Exhibition 2015 at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. That staircase!

F U N K Y   E H?

Nearly killed my sense of balance!

I met my sister-in-law Jacqui outside the RA and she treated me to the exhibition. Armed with the catalogue and pen in hand I explored room after room of some of the most amazing works annotating the booklet with my thoughts.  Looking back on all the images I took of the works I liked a pattern emerged.   I will pop a couple of my favourite paintings up too.

 Julie, Rob, Gem and others - tapestry by Grayson Perry. (detail below)

 If you are in London in the coming weeks and you want a fabulous show to attend, go to High Society, brilliant. Thank you Damian & Jacqui.

 And so the trip continues ... enjoy these:

 Cyril Croucher

 David Barrow


Visit my website too!

Visit my website too!
In-class illumination demonstration

Something about Gemma

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Blackmans Bay, Tasmania, Australia
I am an Australian calligrapher. I enjoy working with of letters and grounds.