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Other Power – In Western Calligraphy

with Ewan Clayton  

Sat 4 February 2023
10:30 am
- 4:30 pm


The Workshop

Ewan’s first visit to Japan was made in 1998. Within three days of arriving, he visited the Hamada compound in Mashiko and was bowled over by what he saw there. It was Hamada Shoji’s approach to his work and the nature of his reference collection that impressed him.

In this class, Ewan introduces us to one of Hamada Shoji’s key principals – other power – allowing nature to add something to the work. Ewan shows how this has influenced his own western calligraphy from the way he approaches the process to the materials that he uses.

In this workshop Ewan will introduce students to Sumi – Japanese inks and, over the course of the day, we will explore various ways of allowing ‘other power’ to affect our writing and the way in which we approach our work.

Please note this is not a class in Japanese brush calligraphy – we will be using the Roman alphabet and pens but neither is it a class about particular Roman letter forms or alphabets. Fundamentally this class is about exploring an approach to work that sees all of nature as powerfully interconnected with our own creative possibilities.

Hamada wrote ‘Nature’s simplicity hides a greater complexity than man’s. Beauty requires neither indirectness nor intricacy. Try to add or contrive, and life vanishes. Great detail and high finish have to do with technique but have nothing to do directly with beauty. In fact, they interfere with it. Lovely things are almost always simply made.’ (Hamada in ‘The Unknown Craftsman’ by Sōetsu Yanagi, Kodansha, 1972.  p.215)

Please note, that this workshop is not suitable for beginners. Please bring your usual calligraphy supplies – whatever they may be. Ewan will supply ink and the use of an ‘automatic’ pen. European watercolour paper is included in the course fee. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

The Workshop Leader

Ewan Clayton grew up in Ditchling. His family worked as weavers in the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic.

Ewan was a member of the Guild before it closed in 1988. He trained as a Calligrapher at the Roehampton Institute with Ann Camp and assisted her with teaching there. In the mid-1980s Ewan lived as a Benedictine monk at Worth Abbey in Sussex. After leaving the monastery he was hired as a consultant to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Laboratory.

Today Ewan is a Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland where he assists in directing their International Calligraphy Research Centre. He steered the old Roehampton calligraphy courses through to degree status; established Sunderland University’s course at Kensington Palace, and is a core member of staff at The Royal Drawing School. In 2013 Ewan was named the Craft Champion of the year for his contribution to educating others in the Crafts in the first National Craft Skills Awards. He was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.

You can purchase an online course on Uncial Calligraphy run by Ewan Clayton here.

Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling runs 22 October 2022 – 16 April 2023 

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