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Cowichan Calligraphers mark 25 years of loving letters

For the past 25 years our group has worked regularly with the public.

By Linda Yaychuk and Betty Locke

The Warmland Calligraphers group began modestly in 1995, with one teacher inspiring a group of students.

One of the founding members or the Warmland Calligraphers, Betty Locke, taught a calligraphy class at the Cowichan Community Centre 25 years ago.

At the end of the session, 12 women approached Betty in hopes that they could continue learning the fine art of calligraphy. The group decided to form a guild and Warmland Calligraphers of the Cowichan Valley was born.

Those 12 original members have grown to more than 80 calligraphers and five of the original members are still active.

The goal of the Guild is to nurture and support those who are learning this art. This is accomplished through workshops and classes. A number of these are held throughout the year and are given by local members, instructors from other Canadian guilds, or by instructors from other countries. Warmland Calligraphers have enjoyed workshops from wonderful teachers from Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, Tasmania and the U.S.

Members have had the pleasure of attending international conferences. In 2007, the guild proudly hosted “Island Magic”, the 27th International Calligraphy Conference. Twenty-one instructors from various countries were invited and they presented an array of classes. More than 300 calligraphers who attended brought their families with them to enjoy theIsland.

General meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds. There are usually 40 or more people in attendance — some of whom come from Victoria, Parksville, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Chemainus.

Meeting programmes educate us on various aspects of calligraphy and quite often a “hands-on” programme is enjoyed. Meetings also include “Gallerias” in which members voluntarily submit calligraphic pieces they have created on an assigned topic.

Space is also rented on the fourth Tuesday morning each month for “Playtime”. During these sessions more experienced members help newer calligraphers develop their calligraphic skills. This is more of a social gathering for the development of skills through practice. Part of this time is shared by a newly-formed group within the Guild called “Warmland Scriptors”. It is a group of more than 20 members who produce and present two pieces a month on given topics. Participants share their work through a private Facebook page and at Playtime.

The guild maintains contact with some other groups in Canada by publishing an annual journal, Reflections. This huge undertaking documents our year and is a retrospective of the artwork of the membership.

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