Where to learn calligraphy in Melbourne?

I am emailed this question a lot, because there are so, so many people out there who want to learn – which absolutely delights me. There’s a lot of hand-wringing about calligraphy being a “dying art” but in my experience, it’s flourishing.

Brush lettering on fabric in class last year, with teacher Tamara McKimmie

Melbourne is actually a wonderful place to learn calligraphy. There are some amazing teachers here with decades of experience in teaching hand-lettering and calligraphy. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had opportunities to study with not only the best teachers in Melbourne and in Australia, but also some of the best teachers in the world, who have travelled to Australia to teach with my group – the Calligraphy Society of Victoria.

The CSV has been active since 13 August 1981, and for all of that time has been offering workshops and continuing education, which speaks volumes to the care and effort put in by the committee.  Workshops are open to everyone (but are slightly cheaper if you are a member) and are taught by very experienced and very talented teachers – I’ve never taken a workshop that didn’t leave me thrilled and inspired.

I publish a list of upcoming workshops in every issue of Postscript, but you can also find that list, frequently updated, on the CSV website at this link. Keep an eye on it – it changes often. (I’m currently Editor of Postscript – I took this role because it’s a way I can give back to this community which has given me so much, and it’s also a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the calligraphy world!)

Studying pen manipulation at SSiW 2015 with international teacher Elmo van Slingerland

The other Melbourne calligraphy event that you should know about is the Summer School in Winter that the CSV hosts. Every year, international and local teachers spend a week in Melbourne running five days of classes (split into three-day and two-day workshops) – accommodation is available for interstate or overseas travellers if you book quickly, and the instruction is unbeatable. It was at SSiW that I had the chance to learn from international teachers like Luca Barcellona, Jake Weidmann, Elmo van Slingerland … an absolute privilege every time.

Spots in these classes fill up very quickly, so you need to be quick off the mark in booking, but it’s worth it.  The teachers for 2016 are Olive Bull, Susan Hufton from the United Kingdom, John Mathieson from South Australia, Brody Neuenschwander from Belgium, and Amity Parks from the USA… the only bad thing about that list is that you can’t take everyone’s class at once.  I know what I’d do if I had a Time-Turner!

Painted borders in class in 2013, with teacher Lynne Muir.

I can’t overstate the value of taking a class with a skilled teacher. I learn something new every single time, even about things I thought I already knew, even in classes I didn’t think I needed to take.

Good luck!


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