As Capital Letters was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, a traditional Lay Members’ Exhibition could not be held. However, the organisers had the fantastic idea of holding a virtual Lay Members’ Exhibition instead.
Twenty-seven individuals and groups submitted work in five categories (The Mayflower, Human Origins, Geometric Principles, Own Work and Collaboration: Where We Come From). We are delighted to be able to present the entries in the following slideshow, with comments kindly written by Mary Noble FSSI.
Thank you to Steve Eades (Capital Letters Team Leader), Gwyneth Hibbett (Lay Members’ Exhibition Organiser), Mary Noble (comments) and Alun Briggs (webmaster/slideshow designer).
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Thank you to all Lay Members who have contributed The Lay Members’ Exhibition Commentary has Very delicate combination of illustration and writing, A clever idea to incorporate the names of the A splendid evocation of the A skilled combination of bold linocut letters I do hope you can try to read the tiny writing around A beautiful bowl, with the engraved writing sensitively Here’s someone who knows their Roman Good to see some geometry celebrated here, Not sure if this is a comment on the There’s a pleasing balance of three elements, A very interesting choice of text, and it’s good to see An attractive combining of Mackintosh These drawn letters fit sympathetically within An exciting piece to be enjoyed both sides. On one A piece for our time, beautifully thought A very graphic image with appropriate choice A lot of work has gone into making this bright, A simple design carefully written, allowing the text to do Splendid handmade knotwork tiles surround this Wow, this is just gorgeous. A very sophisticated assemblage of lettering sizes A bold piece of heraldry flanked with Glorious letters in the Tom Perkins mould, this design is This collaborative piece brings together the This riddle takes a while to read and
to this varied and stimulating Exhibition. As we can’t
enjoy them in the flesh, this is a great alternative option.
always been given in the spirit of a shared learning
experience. I am mindful of the generosity and
exposure of those members submitting work, in
allowing it to be scrutinised in this rather public
critique. Feel free to disagree with anything I say!
Most of all, enjoy the work.
20cm x 29cm
Painted papers and 17c maps; nib and brush;
gouache on Arches Velin
Oceanus was the name of the only baby born on the Mayflower.
The text is from the diary at that time on the Mayflower.
No comments wanted.
21cm x 28cm
Bleed-proof white, gouache & pencil
the ship sails confidently encased in reassuringly
solemn words. It’s a balanced composition with strong
Italic, possibly a little too much internal flourishing
for my taste – it seems to me the flourishing would
work best if kept to the edges and not within the
interline spaces which get a bit tangled. An
appropriate choice of Gothicised title flows gently
above the ship.
33cm x 49cm
Watercolours and Gouache paint, mapping pen,
no.2 Mitchell nib, brushes & sponge
pioneering passengers aboard the Mayflower in this
entertaining piece. There’s lots to enjoy, like reading
a child’s storybook with sea creatures rising among
the names in the water, both coasts evident, and
a benevolent wind blowing them to their new life.
I commend the carefully drawn and spaced title,
that’s a highlight that balances well with the page as
a whole. If it were for a more formal occasion, I’d want
greater margins and maybe try to sharpen the small
24cm x 33cm
Gouache, watercolour, gold leaf on Arches paper
Mayflower’s pioneering voyage,
with skilful combination of
illustration and appropriately
lively writing. Only calligraphers
with an equal mastery of
illustration can pull off such a
combination this successfully.
A deceptively simple design;
centred, but with the weight
high up to combine large text
and ship, flanked with a
decent-sized chunk of text below
for balance. The stars give some
65cm x 44cm
Image: Lino-Cut & Print, brush lettering with Gold Gouache.
Text: Walnut ink & Mitchell nibs
with a large block of penwritten small Italic
script. The title wins. Balancing light and
heavyweight letters so intricately makes an
eye-catching pattern which is yet very legible.
The main text of the Compact is contrastingly
delicate and drew me in to read it. Looking
at the whole shape of the composition, I felt
it needed a few more lines of text to lengthen
the panel of writing for balance of size. The
golden O, looking like a halo, is a master stroke.
37cm x 47cm
Lettering originally written with an automatic pen,
then spattered in Finetec paint through a stencil
onto pastel paper, narrative written in Finetec
with broad edged nib
the outside (expertly written) as they are the key to
this piece! ‘Stardust’ is coloured to link with the words
top and right about atoms, and ‘Stories’ to link with
the other – are we made from atoms or from stories,
is the question. The central words effectively use a
stencil technique that enables spattering for the
stardust effect. At first I found the separation of the
two words disturbing – there’s a bigger central gap,
but decided they legitimately belong to the edges.
Tread Softly Upon The Earth
20cm x 20cm deep circular
Engraved glass vase
placed in a descending spiral. The stroke thicknesses
are a little uneven making some letters a bit unformed –
s stands out for me - but the overall effect is gently
flowing and effective.
Ink, fineliner on Bristol board, craft floral decorations
Capitals proportions and has found a
splendid way to show them off. The central
design suggesting Yin & Yang takes the eye
to the writing and encourages you to read
the words. I enjoy the patternmaking -
though I’d have liked the straight edges to
be curved. The image may be cropped,
but it would look splendid if there was
more side margin to enhance the nice
tension between circle and credit.
The flowers in my view are an unnecessary
distraction (I keep wanting to brush them
Painted watercolour capitals on vintage linen
in a pleasing composition. Not sure it’s
entirely accurate though –I believe the inner
verticals should align with where the circle
meets the diagonals. There’s a sensitive
weight balance between the drawing and the
delicate built-up Capitals. Painting the
letters onto vintage linen can’t have been
easy. There’s some unevenness in the
spacing say between C and I, P and L in the
bottom word, and some less noticeably
uneven spacing above. However, great care
has been given to observing the principles
illustrated and I especially admire the S.
Gouache and pencil
intricacy of the construction of capital
Letters, but this A is composed in
a very complex structure. Rather
reminiscent of garden trelliswork,
but perhaps it’s intended as a
contemporary knotwork design. If
that’s the case, it doesn’t quite follow
the tradition of over-and-under,
but hey, it’s fun.
24cm x 46cm
Arches HP paper; gouache; acrylic ink;
Mitchell nibs nos. 3.5 and 6; gold leaf
illustration, text and credit, with good contrast
between the 3, with very confident, lively writing in all
sizes. The illustrations make a great foil to the text,
with gold adding to the visual interest. If I have any
criticism it’s that when I look at this from a distance,
the block of images feels slightly too small – though
when looking closer, the boxes are the right size; an
optical problem. It’s a beautiful, clean piece.
30cm x 42cm
2 metal pens, gouache & pastel on cartridge paper
the writing doing all the work - no distracting images.
In this asymmetric composition there’s a pleasing
balance between the two main pen sizes, and they
mesh well together. LIFE is nicely treated and lively
but feels like it could be slightly bigger in my view.
The smudge of colour in the background is quite
sufficient embellishment, to suggest perhaps the
milky way, or nothing in particular.
38cm x 28.5cm
Gouache on arches paper with Higgins Eternal ink
letterforms with the traditional rose
ornamentation. I love the choice of
Mackintosh’s words, it makes you want
to do your very best in making something
beautiful! The text and embellishment
mesh well together, though the text shape
slowly gets wider towards the bottom
which disturbs my eye.
Colours (J.de Brebeuf)
42.4cm x 30.5cm
Quills, gel pens, inks, gold leaf on gum ammoniac,
No comment wanted
30cm x 30cm x 6cm
Ceramic hand moulded dish with drawn letters
the bowl’s uneven form, spiralling into the centre.
A tricky surface to tackle, successfully done.
On a flatter surface I might quibble about the
letterspacing but the overall effect is pleasing.
bleach, flat and round brushes, pointed and no 4 nibs,
side the broad, textural, curved strokes are sensitively
contrasted with lightweight skilfully written stacks of
text. On the other, in a different treatment, strong
washes of dark colour are inscribed with gestural
monoline marks giving another form of dramatic
contrast. A thing of beauty.
out, written and presented. The block of
crisp compressed capitals listing the bad
news is right-aligned to move the eye on
to the small white caps giving the small
‘sparkle of hope’. Using this mid-tone red
allows for black and white to be used to
full effect. The self-coloured mount
completes this perfectly unified work.
Haiku I (v.3)
Haiku written on All Soul’s Day, 2019
of letterform to match. The strong plant stems
are complemented by sensitively placed leaves
which create attractive negative spaces. The
placing of the 3 lines of Haiku take account of
those spaces and add to the dynamic overall
effect. I would like to see these capitals more
sharply written with the same quality of line
shown in the illustration. The splash of
sponged colour completes the composition.
gold & palladium leaf
Inspired by the 'Miracle Icon" which was presented
to Emperor Alexander III
colourful piece which was inspired by a
traditional icon. All that gold gives it a very rich
effect. Whilst the background and border are
very elaborate with much ornamentation, the
treatment of Christ is much less defined, (and
his left hand out of scale) which seems
incongruous. As a foil to the busy texture
throughout, the outer border could perhaps
have been made smooth rather than striated.
A complex piece.
Mitchell nibs, mapping pen, pencil, watercolour pencils, ink
the job whilst the simple portrayal of the blackbird adds
interest whilst not dominating. The lightweight Uncial
script is delicate although could benefit from tightening
up some letterforms.
underglazes and clear glaze
Biblical quote. The lettering is somewhat overpowered
by the decorative elements; colouring-in some counters
helps counteract this but maybe the colours could have
matched those of the outer tiles. A fascinating approach.
Written with various Brause nibs
and weights that merits close scrutiny and enjoyment. Whilst it hails from
a medieval manuscript heritage, there is nothing 15th century about this.
Note the clever combination of minuscule (lower-case) with majuscules in
the dominant top line, then two rows of capitals (Roman with Uncial Es)
beautifully spaced. The next two smaller black lines combine caps and minuscule
all at the same x-height, then the final two lines in strong caps flanking the
strong focal point of the illustration. The skill here is making the small
illustration work with all the rest; the gold border finishes it off, and links it
with the top line’s gold diamonds. A fabulous piece.
appropriately sturdy drawn Capitals.
A well-balanced heraldic painting,
finely drawn, where some fun has been
had with the mantling, although this
obscures more of the HONI SOI QUI
MAL Y PENSE than Sir Winston might
wish. The bold capitals fit well around
the image but would give a more even
texture if more generously visually
spaced. Treating CHURCHILL with
diamonds is a nice decorative touch.
Saunders Waterford paper
powerful, balanced and a pleasure to the eye. It takes
great skill to paint letters as evenly as this, always with
an eye to even spacing and sensitively drawn edges. The
narrow interline spacing has a close affinity to the
letterspacing, making a cohesive whole.
Where We Come From
13 calligraphers: Janet Adkin, Meg Chapman,
Steve Eades, Sally Gill, Rosie Griggs, Frances Liddiard,
Colin Lumsden, Sylvia Mann, Alison Millin, Ole Selvaer,
Sue Smith, Jan Turner and Els Van Den Steen.
varied skills of 13 members, combining
calligraphy, heraldic art and illustration.
The title is strong, though the list of names
is somewhat insubstantial in comparison.
With so many contributors, all with different
skills, the best bits have been selected for
the 15 windows making some of the fine
details worth a closer look; Ashford sports
some lively Copperplate, Rye looks like your
next holiday destination, nice bit of gilded
heraldry on the A20 and lots going on
around the site of the battle of Hastings… enjoy!
& Cristiana Coffani
Where We Come From
& gouaches, gold leaf & shell gold, various papers
No comment wanted
Lesley Williams, Simon Gray & Alma Swan
Where We Come From
24ct gold on Strathmore paper
This piece of artwork depicts a riddle about the name
of the place where we come from. The name has six
letters and there is one of these (in gold) in each of
the circles that, in turn, each give a clue to the
answer. The background illustrates the answers to
the clues, too.
work out, I won’t spoil your investigation,
have a go – you’ll need to read all the
circles in this collaborative piece. An
intriguing arrangement of 6 gold circles
enclosing the clues, with a balance of
images around them to give some hints.
The outer lines of gold writing help pull
the design together. Compositionally,
I’d like to have seen the circles more
evenly distributed, as the last two drift
away; their lighter internal content also
separates them somewhat. A design
worthy of a closer look to enjoy the detail.
Thank you to everyone who submitted work.
Please let us know what you think of this online exhibition
We look forward to seeing you at Capital Letters in 2021!
Thank you to all Lay Members who have contributed
The Lay Members’ Exhibition Commentary has
Very delicate combination of illustration and writing,
A clever idea to incorporate the names of the
A splendid evocation of the
A skilled combination of bold linocut letters
I do hope you can try to read the tiny writing around
A beautiful bowl, with the engraved writing sensitively
Here’s someone who knows their Roman
Good to see some geometry celebrated here,
Not sure if this is a comment on the
There’s a pleasing balance of three elements,
A very interesting choice of text, and it’s good to see
An attractive combining of Mackintosh
These drawn letters fit sympathetically within
An exciting piece to be enjoyed both sides. On one
A piece for our time, beautifully thought
A very graphic image with appropriate choice
A lot of work has gone into making this bright,
A simple design carefully written, allowing the text to do
Splendid handmade knotwork tiles surround this
Wow, this is just gorgeous. A very sophisticated assemblage of lettering sizes
A bold piece of heraldry flanked with
Glorious letters in the Tom Perkins mould, this design is
This collaborative piece brings together the
This riddle takes a while to read and