Sheila Waters:
A Retrospective

60 Years in the Calligraphic Arts

July 18-Aug 22, 2009
Strathmore Mansion
in North Bethesda, MD

Scripsit magazine featuring
300 works from this exhibition

 

Sheila Waters on the importance of passing on the "great legacy" of calligraphy

by Sheila WatersIn 2009 Sheila Waters celebrated her 80th birthday, and this major retrospective is a fitting celebration of her life and her art. Follow the artistic journey of internationally renowned calligrapher and illuminator Sheila Waters from her childhood drawings and early days as an emerging calligrapher in Britain to her selection as one of the youngest fellows of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators in London. Trace her development through framed artworks and open portfolios as she creates her masterpiece, the "Roundel of the Seasons," as well as her commission of Dylan Thomas' book Under Milk Wood produced using her modernized Carolingian hand and illuminated in its entirety.

Sheila Waters, "Shock Headed Dandelion"A look back over a career of more than six decades highlights the emergence of her work's singular interplay between technical mastery of the lettering arts and the most contemporary approaches in breathtaking works of visual artistry.

   

Personal Introduction of Sheila Waters
Opening Reception at Strathmore Mansion (7/23/09)
By Theresa Daly, President, Washington Calligraphers Guild

Theresa Daly and Sheila Waters
At the opening reception on July 23, 2009, Sheila Waters was introduced by Washington Calligraphers Guild President Theresa Daly (left).

The woman whose art we celebrate today is a living treasure in the community of calligraphers and lettering artists, both here and abroad. Sheila Waters was born in England 80 years ago, into a family that encouraged her love of drawing. Her artistic talent won her admission to the Medway College of Art at age 16 and then the Royal College of Art at age 19, where she specialized in calligraphy within a demanding art and design curriculum. There she met her future husband, the late Peter Waters, a brilliant student of bookbinding and lettering, with whom she shared a wonderfully creative partnership in marriage and in work.

At age 22, Sheila was elected one of the youngest fellows of the prestigious Society of Scribes and Illuminators in London—a distinction that in no way tempted her to rest on her laurels. To this day she continues to work and teach, traveling across the country and even across the Atlantic offering workshops and master classes, and generously sharing her talents with her students—some of whom travel here from the Pacific Rim, Australia, Europe and Africa to study with her.

In 1976 she became the founding president of the Washington Calligraphers Guild which today has an international membership of over 500 lovers of calligraphy and the lettering arts.

Many highlights from Sheila’s long career are displayed in this exhibition:

  • Her famous manuscript commission, Under Milk Wood
  • The intricate Roundel of the Seasons, a tour-de-force of calligraphy, color selection, miniature painting and design—considered by many to be her masterpiece
  • One of my personal favorites, Tor House, in which each line of Sheila’s calligraphy visually embodies the changing emotions of the words of poet Robinson Jeffers
  • And we can’t omit her groundbreaking textbook Foundations of Calligraphy, published in 2006 and already recognized as a modern classic

Her achievements go beyond her calligraphic work and include her exceptional gifts as a teacher with a most generous heart. She is demanding, but she draws from you every ounce of excellence that she can. Sheila does more than merely teach you how to write—she teaches you how to truly see your work, how to analyze it yourself so that you can constantly improve. It is a joy to study with her.  I am proud to call her my teacher, my mentor, my friend: Sheila Waters.

 

Scenes from the
opening reception

 

 
 
 

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