Calligraphy and Illumination
alligraphy is the art of handwritten lettering, usually executed
in one chosen style of script (such as Uncial, Half-Uncial,
Carolingian, Black Letter Gothic, Copperplate and Italic).
Nearly all scripts originate from past historical periods and
cultures, and nowadays a calligrapher uses a wide range of scripts
for different effects, in the same way that a printer uses varying
llumination is the name given to the process of
decorating the text (particularly the initial letter)
with figures, forms or patterns - hence the term "illuminated manuscript" is
used to denote any inscribed mediaeval work such as a bible decorated by hand.
The monogram shown here is a mid-1980s practice piece I created based on my
maiden initials ("F.G").
raditional illumination can be used to decorate almost any text.
Here is an example of a 19th Century prose poem "Death Is Nothing
At All" by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) in an illuminated setting.
Executed on A4-size parchment in 1989, the design of the initial
letter "D" has flat gilding and gouache colour (as opposed to pigment),
with an inner space decorated with leaves - click on the image for a
detailed view (154k) of the work.
t its highest level, illuminated lettering is embossed with 24-carat gold
leaf and enhanced with figures of people or animals associated with the subject
of the text. Here is a gold leaf illuminated "S" on a Lombardic piece about
Saint Dunstan (with the saint himself drawn in gouache colours - see
enlargement (27k)). It was commissioned in 1988 by a local church
where it is on public display.
he range of commissions I have carried out in recent years
(mainly for private individual clients) is quite extensive.
Here are just a few examples:
ince creating this page (2002), I have added a new page of
latest works containing a wide range of example
calligraphy commissions created from 2003 onwards.
ometimes I combine the skills of calligraphy and illumination
to create highly decorated artwork designs for reproduction in the
form of gift cards, often for sale as part of a range of
Dedication to St. Columba (with detail inset).
Actual size A3. Copies are available in size A5 as a greetings card.
"Iona of my heart, Iona of my love
Instead of monks voices
Shall be heard the lowing of cattle
But ere the world comes to an end
Iona shall be as it was."
(.... words spoken by St.Columba 521-597AD ....)
or many years I have also been fascinated by Chinese artistic
culture, and on occasion I create artwork that combines Western lettering
with Chinese decorative motifs. Shown here is a humorous self-penned
enlargement (99k)), a framed workshop display piece from 2002.
Fiona Graham-Flynn (Scribe)