A few months ago I bumped into Wei Koh from The Rake Magazine whilst dining in Sydney and we exchanged cards. Surprisingly he knew of me and suggested I ought to write something for the online version of the magazine but to date nothing has come of it and I didn't really know what I would like to write on their website since most of what I turn out here on the blog is based on whim and fancy - ie: on a whim I exclaim 'fancy that' and start typing....
However, I did try to encourage him to take on one subject matter recently and that is penmanship and calligraphy and to focus the article on one particular woman in Sydney who needs to be celebrated - Barbara Nichol.
Barbara is extremely unique in the sense that you really won't find too many women in Australia that have both her skill and the knowledge base behind the subject matter too. Barbara is not only the owner of Penultimate, which we have spoken of before, but she is also considered worldwide to be an expert on the art of hand-writing. The word calligraphy is broken down from two Greek words "kallos" or "beauty" and "graphe" or "writing" and if you were to watch Barbara write on a page, as you will see below, you will agree that there is great beauty in her writing. Although hand-writing and calligraphy are different forms - the difference is that hand-writing is drawn whereas calligraphy is more based on the flow of brush strokes - there are some basic synergistic skills that occur in both which you will see below.
And it seems to me that with all this renaissance going on by way of menswear content, the distant cousin of menswear, hand-writing, which is the basic tool by which we communicate with one another our ideas in word using our hands and a simple tool, a pen, somewhat now lost in the world of digital content, deserves it's place in a magazine such as The Rake, where it can be discussed in the context of fine pens which belong, in my opinion, in the suite of other products that I adore such as whiskey, cigars (which I don't like but love to read about), watches, leather watch straps, leather goods and motor cars and boats. ( Ideally I should have broken up that last sentence into a series of sentences but my love of commas got the better of me).
I arrive at a point where I now wish to reveal to you a video that Barbara gave me permission to upload for you that I think you will love. The video was made in an impromptu manner with the folks from Online pens in Germany. The video starts with a proposition - would you like to improve your hand-writing ? From there Barbara shows us some revealing aspects of hand-writing but most importantly that the beginning of the characters that we type every day, the lower case of our alphabet, is derived from Charles The Great who asked his scribe to come up with a way to fasten the manner in which they could write since up until that point all information was written in Roman capital letters. Barbara goes onto show the recipient of this lesson that if we study writing in it's most basic form then we will see that most of the shapes that go into the characters that we write are derived from commonly occurring shapes we find in nature which she refers to as 'the universal line of beauty'.
I know quite a few journalists and I know the criteria it often takes to get a piece to be written and I am honestly a little surprised this story hasn't been picked up sooner!