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Learning Calligraphy | Article

In September 2016, I visited my calligraphy teachers Amanda and Keith Adams at their house in Catalonia for five days of private instruction and conviviality.



Cabanabona is a remote village, 75 minutes by car from Barcelona. The village is really small and most of the residences are stone houses.



Their house is full of artworks, books and writing tools, perfect for calligraphy practice. Below: Work by Keith Adams.



Below: Work by Amanda.



Having Amanda and Keith for myself gave me the opportunity to ask them a million questions (almost literally) and pump up my Fraktur and Copperplate calligraphy skills.

Refining Blackletter calligraphy

Keith showed me examples of Fraktur from many different historical and modern sources. He encouraged me to look at as many manuscripts as possible.



I also tried Textura for the first time, copying from a Fifteenth Century Latin text.


Refining Copperplate calligraphy skills

The second part of my private tuition was with Amanda. We tried different Copperplate nibs, tools, inks and she gave me great feedback on my writing.



We discussed the origin of the word Copperplate and the article The Great Copperplate Myth by New Zealander Peter Gilderdale.



Amanda was really patient with me, answering many questions and showing me cool tricks to apply to my daily practice. We spoke about left-handers and since then I have added to my list of personal development projects writing with the left hand, let’s see how I go! Below: Calligraphy by Amanda Adams.


Archive Collections

On the last day, we went to l’Arxiu Comarcal de l’Urgell (Tàrrega) and we spent time having a look at Fourteenth-century manuscripts. Keith gave me Volum II of Els privilegis de Tàrrega written in Rotunda gothic style.



I also photographed posters from the Catalan Republic era from the archive’s collections of reference materials. Below left: Cacaolat, 1935 (unknown). Centre: Bombones Riquer, 1930 (unknown). Below right: Almacenes Jorba, 1932 by J. Algué.



Leaving Keith and Amanda was really hard. Their knowledge and experience are priceless. And on top of that, Amanda’s Catalan cuisine is exquisite!



If you would like to learn from them, they have already published their next calligraphy courses in Europe for 2017. You can read more about their long-week residential course at Saint Antoine l’Abbaye (France) here.

Thanks again for your time, it was a privilege to be with both of you.