A book of contemporary calligraphy inspired by the Wearmouth-Yarrow monastery home of the 'Venerable Bede, Building Bridges was created jointly by the Society of Northumbrian Scribes and the Parish of Monkwearmouth.
Building Bridges combines calligraphy, photography, painting and essays to celebrate the significance of one of Britain's most historical sites. Through inspiring words and beautiful imagery the story of a twin monastery founded in 674AD at Wearmouth-Jarrow becomes a symbol of building community and bridging divides in the world of the 21st century.
Foreword to the book by Professor Michelle P. Brown
Northumbria has always been a place of bridges, and not only the type that straddle the River Tyne and stand as icons of the region's dynamic industrial heritage. Situated as it is, at the junction between the rest of England and Scotland, and facing boldly towards the North Sea and the European Continent beyond, it has traditionally been a cultural and economic crossroads for a wide variety of peoples, whom it has influenced and by whom it has in turn been shaped.
One of the most fruitful periods of such encounter was the early Middle Ages when, in the aftermath of the Roman Empire, new regional relationships and identities had to be formed. One of the greatest treasures of Northumbrian art and of the Christian faith is the Lindisfarne Gospels, made on Holy Island around 715-20 by the dedicated artist-scribe, Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne. He blended stylistic and textual influences from the Middle East, from Italy and Gaul, from Anglo-Saxon England, Pictland, Ireland and the ancient British kingdoms to produce a beautiful new vision of a world and an eternity within which all might harmoniously co-exist.
Such works became the visible symbols of inter-cultural and interfaith exchange, serving as bridgeheads between the desert sands of Palestine and Egypt and the watery wildernesses of the Atlantic seaboard.
Also crucial in this were the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, founded in the late seventh century by Benedict Biscop, a Northumbrian nobleman who, with his companion Abbot Ceolfrith, travelled many times to Rome, bringing back paintings and books to stock one of the finest libraries in Europe. This was the intellectual and spiritual soil in which thrived the finest scholar of the age, Bede (died 735), whose writings bridged the arts, faith and science, in his quest to perceive God's master plan for creation.
The books produced by men and women in Northumbrian monasteries such as these would spread their influence throughout Europe, carrying with them the styles of script and decoration that had evolved in these islands. Such styles and the techniques that were used in making such miraculous feats of scribal patience, endurance and prayer, have themselves spanned the ages to inspire creativity and faith today. Scribes still flourish in Northumbria and use their art to open lines of communication between people in the present, linking them in turn to those of the past and serving to inspire those of the future. Their work is offered up in this book. Professor Michelle P. Brown
Facilitator to the project was Ewan Clayton
Calligraphy by Hazel Abbott, Pauline Allan, Janet Ashmore, Heather Brooks, Ewan Clayton, Robert Cooper, Tom Fleming, Marjorie Girdwood, Margaret Harris, Dominic James, Hazel Kyle, Elizabeth Lamb, John Loftus, Mike Mavromichaelis, Susan Moor, Jim Murray, Judi Postle, Syl Scott, Susan Short, Rena Stewart, Mary Swales and Helen Tulloh.
Photography – Robert Cooper
Watercolours – Robert McManners
Captions – Susan Moor
Other contributors were John McManners, Ian Stockton, Norma Burnett, Drina Gowland, Hilda Henderson, Gina McManners, Evelyn Nicholson, Ian Nicholson. The Parochial Church Council of Monkwearmouth and the Churchwardens of St Peter's.
“Building Bridges express the hopes and frustrations, the anguish and fulfilment of what it means to be human... Our local communities, identities and traditions matter intensely in a world become small, but so do respect for and communication with those who are different from us." - Dr. Ian Stockton
1st edition, 2006, Pb, 48pp, full colour throughout, 20.3 x 20 cm