'Scissors - Paper - Stone', 24 May - 2 June 2013

Scissors – Paper – Stone: An Exhibition of Contemporary Calligraphy and Letter Carving.   Calligraphers Sharon Shaw and Mark L’Argent and the letter carver Simon Langsdale will be holding an exhibition of lettering on paper and stone in Thaxted’s Guildhall.

We are today, surrounded by the printed word and increasingly, the digital word. This exhibition will highlight contemporary hand-made lettering focusing on its function and purpose in a multi-media age. At various points throughout the exhibition each of the lettering artists will be present to demonstrate and talk about their crafts including, calligraphy, letter carving and drawing, bookbinding and paper-cuts.  The exhibition will be open from 10am to 5pm daily. 


Sharon Shaw

Art was my favourite subject at school and over the years I’ve tried life drawing and painting with oils and watercolours. It was whilst I was struggling with the latter that I came across a piece of calligraphy by Georgia Deaver whose writing, along with an illustration of a row of irises, had been used to promote the Cleveland Opera House.  I was so impressed with the elegance of her lettering that I signed up for calligraphy classes and I’ve been doing it ever since.

After several years of studying at evening classes I took the bold step of going part-time from my job as an art editor to enrol onto the BA calligraphy course at Roehampton. It was a hard slog but worth the effort because it gave me a better insight into the history of western letterforms and I also learnt bookbinding. After gaining a first class honours degree in 2003 I continued working part-time and occasionally executed the odd calligraphy commission. But in 2009 this all changed when I was made redundant but I used this opportunity to concentrate on my calligraphy and gain Fellowship of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators. I now teach a range of courses at the City Lit in Central London and South Thames College in Tooting. I am also part of the teaching staff on the Calligraphy Professional Development course at Kensington Palace.

Teaching allows me to share my passion with other people and it also gives me time to work on my own projects. I am currently studying letterforms from the 11th and 12th centuries which was a period of experimentation and their exuberant shapes lend themselves to the light-hearted texts I tend to use. I am also experimenting with ways to combine these letterforms with botanical drawings presented within book structures.

Mark L’Argent

Having an occupation that is a passion is good, having one with variety is definitely a bonus. As a full-time lettering artist and calligrapher the work is always interesting and varied, a different task almost every week. Working mainly to commission either personal or commercial; this week I can be making a calligraphic interpretation of someone’s favourite poem, perhaps one they wrote themselves, and next week I could be scribing a civic certificate or citation, or celebrating occasions happy and sad, inscribing a baby’s first book, wedding vows, or a book of condolence.

Juggling with the other side of my work at the studio in Harlow, are the creative and imaginative artworks that fill the rest of my time, visual interpretations of words and language including poetry or prose, quotations or things seen or heard, using a variety of techniques; from lettering painted on canvas or fabrics, and letters drawn, written on, or cut out of paper or gilded on calfskin-vellum.

From a lifelong interest and later a thorough grounding and qualification in historical formal lettering, my work and art, combines contemporary styles with the traditional, reflecting in an expressive way, the sentiment of the words and I enjoy the challenge of tailoring each commission to the recipient and their individual taste using my artistry, makes for a satisfying and often fascinating occupation.

The exhibition at the Guildhall in May features new works on paper that explore variations of colour and form and how colours work with, or against each other within a composition. My work can be seen on www.largent.co.uk or at my studio. For further details call 0778 614 3430    

Simon Langsdale

My interest in art began with the beautiful line pen and ink line drawings of the Rupert Bear illustrator Alfred Bestall.  The first time I can remember being interested in lettering was on an early visit to St Albans cathedral and being fascinated by the postcards of illuminated manuscripts.

Over time I realised the challenge for me was how to combine these two interests as I found that while I enjoyed drawing I couldn’t find a use for it that really spoke to me. I found my answer while I was at Roehampton in 2006-07 studying for a certificate in calligraphy. The letter carver Tom Perkins came in to show use how to draw Roman capital letters and suddenly it all fell into place. I was fortunate to enough to then go on to train with Tom for a further year. These were years of great change for me and after going on to graduate from the University of Hertfordshire with a degree in history in 2011 I decided to become a full-time letter carver. I have recently given talks on how hand-made lettering has been used to commemorate those killed in the two world wars and in more recent conflicts.

From my workshop in Bishop’s Stortford I have undertaken commissions such as memorial stones, house signs and stones for the garden. I am constantly trying to expand the areas in which I work and I am currently designing bird baths and memorial benches and looking at late Roman and Anglo-Saxon lettering.  One of the great joys of letter carving is working with the huge variety of slate and stone that we have in this country.  My personal work is always inspired by words and I then seek to communicate meaning through the letterforms and stone or slate they are cut into. As a craftsman I believe it is very important to pass on the skills that I have been taught so I teach calligraphy and I hope to run a letter carving course later this year.