We are very sorry to announce that Sam Somerville sadly passed away quite suddenly on 6th February near his home in Morden, Surrey. Sam was an exemplary craftsman and an incredibly important man to so many in the calligraphy community. He will be greatly missed.
A TRIBUTE TO SAM SOMERVILLE by SUE HUFTON
Sam was one of the most skilled craftsmen calligraphers of his generation. He was originally a science teacher who then approached his calligraphy and bookbinding work with a meticulous mind and attention to detail. He studied at Digby Stuart, Roehampton, with Ann Camp and later taught there, taking over from Ann when she became ill.
Those who were at Digby in the 1980s or who attended his exceptional workshops were fortunate enough to have learnt from Sam’s example of the value of clear, methodical ways of experimenting, making and perfecting. His demonstrations, presentations and technical descriptions were second to none and have sustained me for years. I thank Sam for giving me confidence to prepare and stretch vellum, to make scroll cases and never to take anything as a given unless I’d tried it out for myself and done my own thinking about the why and how of making – all the way from beginning to end.
Sam was perhaps the only person who could use bookbinding and calligraphy together with equal skill. Bookbinding he learnt from George Kirkpatrick in Northern Ireland before he went to Digby Stuart for calligraphy. He understood gilding and colour with the mind of a scientist and the patience and thoroughness of a researcher. Then as an artist he used his tools and materials in creative and innovative ways to make work that astounded and delighted. He was a teacher and whilst that was an important part of his work, first and foremost he was a maker and believed that the making and showing of skilled work was the most valuable way of educating people about calligraphy.