Work on Vellum Skins by Denis Brown/h1>
Vellum skins were used for writing long before paper was adopted in Europe in the middle ages. Some jobs today still require vellum, such as the Irish Grant of Arms in the first slide; a commission from the 1990s. However even back then I was experimenting with the material. I came to favour skins with strong markings from hair follicles and natural colour variation. In works on vellum so fine that it is translucent, I place calligraphy behind as well as on the skins. I use the fact that vellum is skin in the concepts of many pieces. At the extreme, in the 90s I burned holes into skins and emulated open sores in them. Titles such as “Unclean Book” and Old Testament texts on the exclusion of lepers linked the works to bigotry regarding the “victims” of AIDS which prevailed at the time. My new book BROWN Calligraphy discusses this and many other ways that calligraphy can be so much more than decorative writing.
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