On Monday 15th March 2010 St Mary Church in March was set ablaze to the cost of £120,000 of damages.
The remembrance book was just one of the victims of the fire:
At the end of 2013 I was recommended and honoured to accept the commission as calligrapher for the replacement book.
I have always loved the process of writing, as a child I would spend much time writing and re-writing letters so the font was unified and elegant. My Mother bought me a calligraphy set when I was about 13 and I enjoyed many hours trying to perfect the art over the following months.
Just last year I found my old Calligraphy set in my parents loft, I popped a cartridge in and...voila...it worked! Once again I dabbled with it to write out the Serenity Prayer for my Brother, the same prayer I gave as a sample to acquire this very commission.
As an artist who has always been passionate about churches, I dreamed of having some creation of mine in a church like the masters in Rome.
It's strange how things work isn't it?
I am not a master!
I am a self taught artist and I have quite nice handwriting...but...I am determined, passionate, meticulous and thrilled to be doing this.
Selecting tools for the job:
A pen I feel comfortable with...While I love the graduation of ink that a traditional dip pen can only give, I have decided the risk of an open ink bottle on my desk at the same time as the book is just too much for my nerves. So I have chosen a Lamy Calligraphy pen with a refillable converter.
Ink to stand the test of time...I have chosen Noodlers ink. I already work with Noodlers in my sketchbooks so I am familiar with it. I also decided on Lexington Gray rather than black to help try to create some of that wonderful graduation I loved when using the dip pen.
A lot of time has been spent on practising a font I could be comfortable with. I have no idea if it's a 'real' font but it flows quite naturally from me.
The header page:
The original book was a masterpiece! I can only dream of one day being as skilled as the original calligrapher (whose surname was also Davies I might add), I have flicked through it's fragile pages in awe. The header page in particular caught my eye so I decided to re-create it and add a little something of my own to it...a way to honour the Master that went before me and combine our efforts for the church.
I realised early on that research was important and ran my new additions by the Vicar in a recent telephone call. I then added my Fleur des Lis, Lillies and Rose to the original Diocese of Ely symbol to create this design:
Which I finished adding colour to today:
(I am still undecided on the central cross)
Ruling the book out has taken time; feint guidelines for my pen work have had to be put into place so I can remain straight and true with the writing that follows. With each group of 4 lines I have created for each entry I have marked the first capital letter also in pencil...a way of double checking I am entering the correct name in the correct date as I go....there is no room for error here...Tippex just won't cut it!
The project so far has presented many aspects one might not consider when viewing a Remembrance Book, I am thoroughly enjoying every one of them!