The Chosen Letter - Creative Calligraphy In Hants

By Richard Stacey | 14 March 2003
this picture shows the Letter A, a pen and ink drawing by Clifford Harper.

Left: the Letter A, pen and ink drawing by Clifford Harper. © Graphicus Touring Exhibitions.

So, you’re a grown up and you know your alphabet. You’re comfortable writing letters, typing letters, you may even have munched on Alphabet Spaghetti.

But have you ever written with bread? Or seen letters made out of a living plant?

Now’s your chance to become one of the select few that have by visiting The Chosen Letter exhibition at Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham, open from Mar 15 until April 26.

this picture shows the letter V, loVe by John Butler RWA.

Right: the letter V, loVe by John Butler RWA. © Graphicus Touring Exhibitions.

The show is the brainchild of 56 year old lecturer in visual communication Leo De Freitas of Graphicus Touring Exhibitions.

“I’m old enough to have seen the introduction of digital technology. It’s all too easy now with any software to have hundreds of fonts to choose from.

“So I asked 25 artist-craftsmen to give me their interpretation of a letterform. The idea was to capture the spirit of a letter the artists have thought about in a special way, rather than just selected off a shelf.”

this shows the Letter E, by Dave Smith

Left: the Letter E, by Dave Smith © Graphicus Touring Exhibitions.

Although the results ranged from letters engraved in slate and stone to embroidered letters, and letters printed on tiles, they all have one thing in common.

“The nicest comment we’ve had is ‘what a happy exhibition.’ Because it is very colourful, we haven’t asked the artists just to work in black and white. We had great fun putting it together and it’s really nice to see that response.

“Children tend to love it. There’s a game element as well, we deliberately left one letter out and the kids are encouraged to find what letter it is.”

this shows the Letter Y, by Sue Nicholls

Right: the Letter Y, by Sue Nicholls © Graphicus Touring Exhibitions.

Although much of it was put together with children in mind, there’s enough ingenuity and beauty to entertain adults also.

“The letter V is my favourite. John Butler did a rather wonderful, almost Stanley Spencer-type image of two angels coming together in the form of a letter V, holding hands. And it’s in fact a study of my wife and myself. It’s a lovely, and very imaginative interpretation anyway. But it has a special appeal to us.”

The show has not been without its problems, though. One of the more unusual contributions is the letter B, a specially sculpted loaf of bread.

“We’re on our third bread. It’s obviously fascinating to people, kids poked it with biros, and things like that. Twice we’ve had to have it re-baked and replaced. The second time it went mouldy, we got the recipe wrong.”

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