Arts & Culture
Repainting old traditions
Aside from the green open spaces and sandy beaches, the East Riding is a hotbed of artistic talent with the region seeing a revival in some of the more traditional art forms.
Wyke Scribes is dedicated to the art of calligraphy, lettering and illumination. The group was formed in 1995 by enthusiasts in the East Riding. Members get together on a regular basis to practice, learn and exhibit the craft.
Jane Jenkins is one of the founding members of Wyke Scribes.
Her interest in calligraphy started at school aged 14 while learning the basics of the craft during art classes. The classes stopped as Jane went on to study at college and pursue a career in teaching.
However, it wasn't until 25 years ago that Jane renewed her interest in calligraphy. After attending classes at an adult education centre, she decided to take it up seriously and completed a correspondence course in the subject.
“The Society of Scribes and Illuminators very kindly put me in touch with Father Simon Trafford, who was a monk at Ampleforth College. He gave me a correspondence course and put me right on lots of things, so I think it’s to him really that I owe most of my calligraphy.”
“Calligraphy is a very broad subject. Some people are more interested in things like illuminating individual letters and drawing letters. Others prefer to do pen work. And learning it is like learning a musical instrument really.
“It’s a lot of hard work but the rewards are huge.” added Jane.
Clive from Wyke Scribes practising Uncial
The group practice a range of styles including Gothic, Italic and Uncial, the latter being a round and chunky majuscule script which was commonly used by Greek and Latin scribes between the third and eighth centuries.
It’s not just traditional typography the group practice; members also enjoy experimenting with a number of classical styles to create their own modern designs.
“People take a traditional hand such as Uncial or Italic and then they alter it.” says Jane. “They start to use different pens to work with it or make it taller and thinner or shorter and fatter, or they put colour in there.”
Aside from Calligraphy, Jane is also a founding member of the East Riding Quillers. A group dedicated to the art of Quilling, which involves rolling strips of narrow paper to create ornate sculptures and designs for greeting cards.
Jane has been a quiller for over 23 years. She regularly holds quilling workshops in the region and has published a number of books on the subject. She was also commissioned to produce a piece for the BBC TV drama, Sense and Sensibility, but the artwork was never used in the programme.
The basket of flowers commissioned by the BBC
“The one I had produced for the BBC drama was based on a plaque that can be found in the Peterborough Museum. It’s a basket full of very, very ornate flowers. I think it’s probably one of the best pieces of quilling in the UK during the Georgian era.”
The origins and history of quilling is relatively unknown. However, it is believed the art form became popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries where it was practiced by genteel ladies. Its popularity declined soon after and in recent times, quilling has become an attractive art.
“These days’ people will quill greetings cards – that’s the favourite thing to do – so therefore the quilling tends to be quite small. But some quillers, like me, are completely addicted and they like to make big ornate things like freestanding models.”
“Some of the quilling can be breathtakingly complicated and hard to believe that it’s actually paper.
A model pig made by a member of the E.R.Q
“Because we have modern glues, modern colours and papers we can do things with it that our ancestors couldn't do, because they didn't have such good materials as we have now.”
Jane and husband Paul are both founding members of The Quilling Guild, which was formed in 1983 to promote the art and develop a knowledge base for quilling enthusiasts across the country.
The Quilling Guild holds annual exhibitions and workshops as well as festivals and conferences for members.
Crafts aside, another interest that Jane enjoys is folk art and it was calligraphy that inspired her to explore this subject.
“I wanted to originally decorate around my calligraphy, put some simple flowers around it. I’m not a painter so when I saw some examples in a book of folk art I decided this is it. I initially just used the same paint as I was using for my calligraphy.”
Folk art is a form of painting or sculpture that is used for practical reasons to decorate objects such as pots, vases or large structures such as narrow boats. There is no formal training or qualification in folk art and its style is usually rooted in a particular culture or region.
British folk art at its best
“I do know that in Europe, especially the Scandinavians and Germans, they're very fond of painting their furniture, walls of their houses and that sort of thing.
“We tended not to do that. We still don't do that. Once it got started over here with painting your narrow boat, people have been doing that and taking their household items and painting them in various ways.
“The popularity of folk art in this country has really only grown in the last few years. I only took it up about four or five years ago. We’ll wait to see where it’s going. I think it’s quite an exciting sort of thing to be joining in.”
To see examples and demonstrations visit the Open Centre between August 18th and 20th where Jane Jenkins will be holding workshops on calligraphy, quilling and folk art.
last updated: 30/07/2008 at 11:00
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