The introduction to the book by Sue Hufton
It is now eighty years since students of Edward Johnston founded the Society of Scribes and
Illuminators and this issue of The Scribe shows a society very much alive and at the forefront of work being done today. In 1921 and still, eighty years later, the SSI has as its core aim the promotion of the highest possible standards of calligraphic work. The exhibitions held by the Society during recent years have contributed to that aim; 'Fine Words Fine Books' in 1991, 'Celebration of Calligraphy' in 1996 and 'Words as Images' in 2000 each reflected the work being done by Fellows as well as Lay Members.
For the summer 2001 Journal, Fellows were invited to contribute photographs of their work,
and/or roughs of pieces they have been working on and to make some comment if they wished, about their thinking behind the work or the technical approach to its execution. The contributions were numerous and varied and show a Fellowship of thinking, forward-looking calligraphers engaged upon interesting and exciting work, much of which is not seen in exhibitions. That could be because the work is for commission or simply is in a state of evolution and not yet fully developed. Some projects are ongoing and will take many years to complete, whilst other work forms part of programmes of research that may lead to surprising ends.
It is interesting to observe that whilst some would expect the older Fellows to be working in
traditional calligraphic ways, and the younger, newer Fellows to be moving the craft in new
directions, it is experience and practice together with skilled workmanship that gives the freedom to move forward and open the mind to new ways of working. This can only result in truly successful work when it comes from a sound and confident starting point. Therefore, we see here one of the dynamic and contemporary illuminations by Donald Jackson contained within the traditional context of a manuscript Bible, the computer-generated work being developed by George Thomson and the energetic handwritten forms of Stuart Barrie, Mary White and David Howells.
The traditional calligraphic skills of penmanship, illumination and heraldry are very much in
evidence today, the formal presentation document, the commemorative book and the certificate bestowing timeless qualities of dignity and respect. Included are recent examples of these, as well as some done in the past. Commissions form the backbone of most Fellows' work and therefore is well represented here.
The contributions also show that Fellows are not striving to be original or innovative for the
sake of it. Originality and innovation come from developed thinking and from response to stimuli. Ann Hechle's journal of her ideas and discoveries is not merely beautiful in its own right but a working through of her thoughts and responses to an intellectual journey. Hazel Dolby's use of the landscape as a stimulus is the result of much painstaking observation and exploration, rather than a conscious effort to do something original.
The frontispiece was contributed by Joan Rix Tebbutt and gives a fine impression of her workroom. The tools of her trade are there, as well as her sloping table and it is a picture of a working area with contents that would have been as familiar to the founders of the SSI eighty years ago as it is to today's calligraphers. In its eightieth anniversary year, the Society views the future with a positive and healthy outlook in the confidence that traditional skills and methods of working are being interpreted in contemporary ways and that the high standards of the craft of calligraphy that the SSI has always upheld are being taken forward. Sue Hufton
This book contains some amazing pieces of work by the following calligraphers:
Timothy Noad, George L. Thomson, George Thomson, Richard Middleton, Stuart Barrie, Sue Gunn, Jilly Hazeldine, Patricia Gidney, Joan Rix Tebbutt, Freda Titford, David Howells, Mary White, Dave Wood, Mary Noble, Joan Pilsbury, Wendy Westover, Wendy Selby, Ann Hechle, Hazel Dolby, Sally Mae Joseph, Sue Hufton, Janet Mehigan, Gerald Fleuss and John R Nash.
Interested in learning more about the work of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators?
Click here to go to the SSI Page within this web-site.
1st edition, 2001, paperback, 70pp, Over 80 monochrome photographs and 10 in full colour throughout, 21 x 28cm