North West Calligraphy

Barbara Alldred FCLAS

Barbara Alldred was awarded her CLAS Advanced Diploma in Summer 2015.

After completing the Intermediate level of the CLAS Diploma, I never really considered the Advanced level as it seemed quite daunting. However, when a mixed level Ladder of Progress group started at Bowden, I decided to support it with the intention of merely ‘thinking about working towards tackling the Advanced Diploma’. For the first year I went Calligraphy by Barbara Alldredalong to all the sessions and with supportive and encouraging tutors like Mary Noble and Gaynor Goffe it was impossible to stay in this state of indecision for long and I soon found myself engaging with the various modules and planning possible pieces of work. It was a good year before I fully committed and found myself on quite a calligraphic adventure. There was much to learn and skills that I had never acquired such as preparing and using vellum, making and using gesso and using pigments so during the course of the next few years I attended as many courses, read as many books, talked to many tutors and fellow calligraphers and watched as many DVDs on this subject as I could.
Before I knew it, I was totally immersed. Five modules of work had to be completed within a period of five years including a manuscript book, a piece for printing, experimental work showing progression from conception to completion and an essay. I had intended to submit two modules per year but life intervened and I had to take a break of nearly twelve months from active calligraphy but I continued researching and was mightily relieved when I was able to pick up the threads.Calligraphy by Barbara Alldred
For the essay I had to study an historical scribe and during this time I became very ‘friendly’ with a tenth century scribe Godeman and his beautiful Versals in the Benedictional of Aethelwold. Jilly Hazeldine agreed to be the subject of my contemporary scribe and I had a wonderful time studying her work from the beginning of her career as a calligrapher to now and she was so generous in answering all my many questions and providing images to use.
The calligraphic pieces all threw up challenges to be resolved, one of the trickiest being the experimental piece ‘Patchwork’ with so many trials, experiments and work discarded before reaching a coherent whole. When completed, the thought processes and decisions for this piece all had to be presented alongside the finished work. So much to be learnt going through a process like this.
The module involving a contemporary use of gilding and a traditional one was very enjoyable and I chose to do the Beatitudes written in uncial in a formal layout on vellum and a very lively Twinkle Twinkle Little Star worked on black paper, using raised gesso gilding, flat gilding and silver gouache.
Calligraphy by Barbara AlldredThe Advanced Diploma is not for the faint-hearted but it is so well worth the effort and I am so glad I managed to get there in the end. I must say a huge thank you to Bob who has shown a huge amount of patience as I wrestled with various conundrums and especially in explaining the nuances of the printing process.
In the summer of 2018 I was awarded Fellowship of CLAS following three years of deveIoping new work.  It was an intense and nerve wracking experience talking about my work and answering questions put to me by Fellows but the euphoria and joy of being informed I was a Fellow of this wonderful society makes it all worthwhile.  I am now exploring all those tools and techniques that have been on the back burner for a long time and have had three pieces of work in the CLAS  25th Anniversary Exhibition A Way with Words.