Workshops – Case Study – Illuminating Beasts, Rochester Cathedral

The Illuminating Beasts project at Rochester Cathedral was a community project using inks and bleach. With 68 students (ranging from ages 6 to 82 years – some with special needs), I used 12 small bottles of various coloured Diamine fountain pen inks, 16 dip pens, 16 brushes and a ream of cartridge paper over 6 workshops of 2.5 hours duration each.

Using the mythical beast featured in the ‘Textus Roffensis’ as the main source, each student was tasked with producing one illuminated capital letter ‘R’ using only fountain pen inks and bleach. The workshop began with a brief slideshow outlining the history of illuminated letters, delivered by myself. This was followed by reference collecting direct from the cathedral using sketch books and cameras. Once back in the studio, the students had 1.5 hours to create their own illuminated intial capital letter. I supplied a sheet of ornamental designs and patterns for the students to use in case of creative block and gave a quick demonstration of blending inks and adding bleach. I then worked ‘one to one’ amongst each group of 11 students until completion. The workshop received 100% satisfaction score on the participant evaluations!

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