Despite the rain and hail a large group of interested people met on 25 February 1986 at the Bruce TAFE College for the inaugural meeting of the Canberra Calligraphy Society. This meeting was organised by Ricky Edmunds, Aili O'Flaherty and Gemma Black, three friends with mutual interests dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the traditional art form of calligraphy. Many of those who attended this meeting are still with the society today.
On that first evening the structure and aims of the society were outlined and those aims were to PROMOTE, ENCOURAGE and FOSTER the long established and respected art of calligraphy in a friendly and cooperative manner. An interim steering committee was formed at this meeting with a formal committee duly elected six months later.
The Society logo was designed and executed by Ricky Edmunds. The logo incorporates the letter “O” which signifies “the mother of the alphabet” and of course the quill and the Society's initials, which speak for themselves. The Society was incorporated on 16 December 1986, which set in concrete the foundation of a constitutional society and enhanced the group's standing in the community.
Since our first meeting there have been many activities in which the members have participated in, taken pleasure from and learned appropriate skills from. Workshops have been given by local calligraphers and artists covering many topics in calligraphy, but also in the allied arts such as bookbinding, paper marbling, watercolour painting, watercolour techniques, glass engraving, paper making, decoupage, framing, leaf printing, layout and design, the world of colour and the commercial art of print making.
The Society has also invited guests from the Australian Society of Calligraphers to conduct workshops. Among them Geoff Ford, Elaine Witton and Dave Wood. William Lai from “Will's Quills” has run a number of very well attended materials workshops over the years, which involve demonstrations and sales of the tools of the craft.
We have also been very fortunate to have had international calligraphers visit us for workshops and lectures. Pat Russell from Abingdon, near Oxford came in 1989. Susanne Haines from London came in 1990, and in 1992 we had the pleasure to invite Margaret Daubney, also from London, here to Canberra.
Community involvement has always been an important part of the Society's agenda. Since inauguration the Society has annually taken a booth at the Canberra Festival, firstly at Recreational Expo and now at ACT Alive. The Society has produced two calendars, in 1987 in 1988. The Society has been invited to view original illuminated manuscripts and facsimiles of some of the most famous manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Golden Gospels in the Rare Books reading room at the National Library of Australia, on a number of occasions. Not only does the society have access to slides of the highest standards in calligraphy but shows them periodically. The society in 1993 was invited by Barbara Ross, manuscripts expert with the National Library, to an illustrated lecture on Australian Illuminated Addresses dating from 1886 onward.
Probably the most exciting event in the history of the Society was its inaugural exhibition held at the Woden Library in August 1993. Members were encouraged to show their work and a total of 52 framed and unframed pieces were exhibited for three weeks. Because the response was overwhelming, it has been incorporated as an annual event.
Many members, amateur and professional alike, (way too many to mention but all much appreciated) have made an enormous contribution to the Society by submitting work and articles for the Society's newsletter, which was first produced monthly, and now bi-monthly. The complete set of newsletters is housed in the Society's library, which was generously hand crafted by Charles Bartholomew. The large range of excellent calligraphy books are available to all society members. The society has had various venues of the years, however we have found a very happy home in that of Urambi Village Community Hall, Crosier Circuit, Kambah, where we meet usually on the fourth Sunday of every month. The membership of the society has fluctuated over the years due to Canberra's moving population ,but usually floats around the 80 mark.