A few weeks ago I went to a calligraphy workshop. My first ever. I found out about it when one of my students, who knows I like stationery, told me that a calligraphy workshop will be held on the premises of my employer (a university).
The student told me that the workshop was organised by the students’ Islamic Society, so I assumed it would be Arabic calligraphy, but wasn’t sure and couldn’t find out more online.
Well, I went there and it was Arabic calligraphy after all. As I don’t know anything about Arabic script I thought this would be an opportunity to learn more about it. When I asked I was told that the workshop is suitable for someone who doesn’t know Arabic.
I paid my £3 fee, but it all turned out a bit different than expected. I expected to use tools somehow similar to a dip pen and parchment, but instead, we wrote with colour markers on easel pads. I am still not sure how Arabic calligraphy works. Someone wrote with a board marker on a white board and we copied that sentence again and again. The idea was that you vary the look of the letters (if that’s the right word, are they called letters?) to look good ..but as I don’t even know how the letters are supposed to look like I wasn’t sure how they can be changed or varied while still staying recognisable to someone who can read Arabic.
It was an interesting experience, but it would be nice to make these events more inclusive by making them less of a ‘you copy down what’s on the board’ exercise and giving some explanations about the writing system.
I wonder whether there’ll also be Western calligraphy workshops in the future.