Calligraphy has seen a major change of use since Edward Johnston turned it into a must-have art school skill in the early 1900’s from whence it lasted nearly 100 years before the computer took away some of its applications, and calligraphers sought more niche markets for this hand skill that refuses to die. Early craftspeople made a living from formal presentation scrolls, family trees, and of course memorial books after two World Wars.
The writing was on the wall once desktop publishing could knock up a poster faster than a calligrapher could rule up a page. So, freed from the formal drudge of pages of identical writing, he and she got creative. Calligraphers embraced art, tried being subversive, devised new letterforms, tried new applications, explored different tools. The past provided inspiration for the future, and the result has been wacky, ugly, or amazing, depending on your point of view.
Mary Noble graduated in graphic Design in the 1960’s from London College of Printing in the days of offset Litho, Letraset and Cow Gum. Calligraphy was never mentioned, but she came across it by chance years later at her local Adult Education classes, and thought it might save on Letraset when she was designing the local church newsletter.
Once hooked, she started teaching, had to study more to keep ahead of the students, and after learning from leading calligraphers especially Gaynor Goffe, she became a Fellow of the two national calligraphy societies, first the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, (SSI) and then Calligraphy & Lettering Arts Society, (CLAS). Later she became Chair of CLAS and is currently examiner of the CLAS National Diploma in Calligraphy. Mary is author or co-author of several how-to-do-it beginners’ calligraphy books; she exhibits and takes commissions, working from her home in Hampshire.