School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461



The art of fine handwriting was central to the ideology of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It was a useful craft readily applied to graphic design, commercial publishing and the private presses. Sidney Greenslade was in no doubt of the importance of good lettering. In 1923 thirteen members of The Society of Scribes and Illuminators responded to his invitation to 'execute examples of their craft' for the University's collection. Subjects ranged from expressions of patriotism to biblical extracts and similarly moral, uplifting passages.

Women made a significant contribution to the Arts and Crafts Movement-not least as calligraphers. All but two of the artists who responded to Greenslade's request were women, Louise Powell the most famous among them, illuminating The Souls of the Just. In her formative years she was in close contact with the hub of the Arts and Crafts Movement. She distinguished herself in manuscript illumination and transferred her skills to ceramic decoration, collaborating with her husband for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd.

Greenslade's stylistic preference was for uncluttered lettering and a harmony between form, function and decoration. These are rather formal inscriptions, which demonstrate the highly prized skill of 'nobly spaced writing' and uniformity of letterforms. Like many artists who practised during the Arts and Crafts Movement, the calligraphers sought inspiration in the art of the Middle Ages and modelled their letterforms upon the simplicity of the Carolingian minuscule of the ninth century.