Cowichan Calligraphers mark 25 years of love of letters

Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)
Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Betty Locke. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Betty Locke. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)
Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)
Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Judy Matheson. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Judy Matheson. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)
Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)Calligraphy by Warmland Calligrapher Marilyn Boechler. The Warmland Calligraphers are celebrating their 25 anniversary this year. (submitted)

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 (the Guild) was born. Those 12 original members have grown to more than 80 calligraphers and five of the original members are still active in the Guild.

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.

Some of our members have had the pleasure of attending international conferences. In 2007 we proudly hosted “Island Magic”, the 27th International Calligraphy Conference. Twenty-one instructors from various countries were invited and they presented a wonderful array of classes. Some of these instructors and some of the more than 300 calligraphers who attended brought their families with them to enjoy a vacation on our beautiful Island. The conference was a great success.

Warmland Calligraphers has an executive of 13 people who meet monthly to organize meetings, workshops and communication with members. General meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month excluding July and August. The meetings are held 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. Discussions and learning take place during Gallerias as we appreciate the works submitted.

To further educate our members, space is 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.

We maintain 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. It is ably edited by Barbara Qualley. Our goals and our calligraphy are celebrated in this lovely magazine. Each year we look forward to its arrival in spring.

For the last 25 years our group has worked regularly with the public. We have set up booths at various celebrations such as Christmas craft shows, quilt shows and church celebrations. Through these events we try to introduce the history of calligraphy and provide an opportunity for the public to see calligraphy being done and to experiment with a huge and ever increasing variety of calligraphic tools.

Warmland Calligraphers have had numerous exhibitions over the years in places such as The Loft Gallery in Mill Bay, Portals, the Cowichan Library and the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre lobby. You might have seen our work in museums and cafés in Ladysmith and Duncan. Some of our members do commissioned work for organizations and individuals.

The Guild has outreach programmes in which many members take part. Young children from a local elementary school are encouraged to write compositions which are then given to volunteer calligraphers. These writings are rewritten, illustrated and framed. For a few months they are hung in the halls of Sunridge Place for the enjoyment of the residents. At a gathering in the elementary school in May, the transformed pieces are personally presented by the calligraphers to the children who wrote them. Each child then gives the framed piece as a gift to their mother on Mother’s Day.

Other outreach includes the efforts of one ambitious member who holds ongoing teaching sessions at local schools during lunch break. Another member has formed a group called C.W.I.P.P.E. (Cursive Writing Intergenerational Pen Pal Exchange) in which local Grade 3 students use cursive writing to communicate back and forth with groups of seniors. This outreach tries to address the current situation in which school children have no cursive writing skills. Some of our members continue to offer classes to the public through Elder College at the Cowichan Community Centre.

During the last 25 years our Guild has grown not only in membership but in experiences beyond our meeting room walls. Just imagine what delights the next 25 years will bring.

For more information visit our website: warmlandcalligraphers.ca

Linda Yaychuk and Betty Locke are members of the Warmland Calligraphers.

Arts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Not enough local eggs to meet demand: officials

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read