Sunday, 13 March 2011


Calligraphy is possibly the epitome of ‘paper, pens and ink’. There is something glorious about the shapes, forms and expressions involved. You will have seen the calligraphy animals I have used on some of the divider pages in my filofax. I find these incredibly beautiful – a beauty I imagine is only increased if you also understand the words making the forms. They are created with nothing more complex than a pen and some paper and yet the animals are incredibly detailed, intricate and delicate. Two of my favourites are the elephant and the zebra. There is a good blog about the calligraphy - BibliOdyssey, although it hasn't been updated in a while.

My love of calligraphy goes back to early Christian texts and the fabulous illustrations in so many mediaeval books. Many years ago I bought a facsimile copy of the book of Kells and I can still marvel at both the writing and the illuminated pages. Like the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Kells is a stunning example of Insular art (Wikipedia link). The style of writing used gives its name to the insular script or ‘hand’ in calligraphy and the style of the writing and especially the illustrations, is markedly different to other European manuscripts of the same era.
Dog from the Book of Kells

I have tried my hand at calligraphy, but not to any great success so far. It certainly is a case of practice, practice, practice! The time it must have taken to create the mediaeval books is phenomenal and when you think that the inks, the quills and the vellum all needed to be produced by hand, it is an extraordinary achievement.

My admiration goes out to those who are so much more skilled than I am ever likely to be.


  1. I adore these calligraphy animals. They are so beautiful! I will definitely have to try printing them out. Who won the rugby?

  2. England! But Scotland didn't play horrendously badly and the margin was only 6 points.

    You will have to have a go at printing the animals. Let me know how you get on.