I was recently privileged to attend a workshop on David Jones taught by Ewan Clayton. It took place in the cottage where David Jones lived in 1922, just outside the village of Ditchling in Sussex.
This village is famous among calligraphers for being the home of Edward Johnston and is also where Eric Gill had his workshop and where David Jones worked for a short time.
David Jones was not here long but he left his mark by painting a mural on the kitchen wall - which I can't show you because it is in copyright. At first glance I thought it was particularly appropriate for the time of year because it shows a figure in blue with a halo, riding on a donkey but on closer inspection I think the crowd around the figure and two donkeys are holding palm leaves so I assume it is a depiction of Jesus and the ride to Jerusalem we celebrate on Palm Sunday.
It was a lovely venue for a weekend of study and Ewan, who also grew up in Ditchling, had lots of background information and objects for us to look at. He explained that Jones was influenced by the deeply cut Roman inscriptions in the British Museum, but the work of the ordinary man rather than the perfection of inscriptions like that of Trajan's column.
Inscription of an officer of III Cyrenaica, found near the Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella.
This image is from Typefoundry blog about Eric Gill - there is something very familiar in the curled G from and inscription carved by Eric Gill in 1907 - see more by following this link:
After looking carefully at some of the unusual letter forms in David Jones inscriptions and copying individual letters we were able to compare some e.g the n above, with objects in the cottage:
I repeated the exercise when I got home, though there is still a bit of touching up to do around the P and R in 'carefree'. I liked being able to work in this way, using a pointed brush and building up the letters and sometimes cleaning out areas and overpainting them in white. This is how I started lettering when doing graphic design at art college and before I started to learn about calligraphy.
Nicolette Grey wrote the definitive book on David Jones called 'Painted Inscriptions of David Jones' she is one of the calligraphers I find most inspiring, particularly a slim volume called Lettering as Drawing which has also been influential in Thomas Ingmires work.
If you follow this link you will find more information about Nicolette Gray and her friendship with David Jones and this full colour image of one of his inscriptions on the Tate website. (As we are invited to share the image via Facebook etc on the Tate page I think it will be ok to include it here)