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Postby buzzardbait » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:54 pm

This area of historical art can say much about social life and customs, including the way people used to think, how they identified themselves and how they dressed, what crafts they specialised in, what disasters befell them, what they considered sacred and amusing. Dating this graffiti is imprecise but most likely falls between the 12th and 16th centuries. Despite being right in our midst and (especially if you live in the counties around London) it is an under-researched area where there is still much to discover.

For the best part of a decade I've been photographing and researching medieval graffiti, and now through to 24th June I'm showing a selection of at St. Albans Museum in a community exhibition, 'Medieval Graffiti - a lost art of the Middle Ages'. This compliments the Magna Carta exhibtion now showing, which I can recommend too, principally for it's securing of the original Coronation Oath of Edward III. Font size 6 writing in colour, incredible.

'Medieval Graffiti - a lost art of the Middle Ages' features a selection of around thirty photographic prints with examples from mainly churches in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, and France. This includes the earliest artistic representations in Britain and France of the holy grail, yes that vessel, as well as a wide variety of other graffiti subjects, from people and animals, music and musicians, to texts, symbols and geometric examples. These are all described in a 25-page illustrated guide.

To compliment the images and help set the atmosphere is a 25 minute video with sweet music, mostly produced exclusively for this piece (which you can also find here: [youtube][/youtube]) There are also real Totternhoe stone (the graffiticist's favourite) artefacts with graffiti carvings reproduced fairly faithfully by me from which visitors can take rubbings.

I hope the exhibtion will encourage some appreciation for this art, which is more often than not unfiltered expressions of thought and feeling. Any more thoughts about them, indeed any more examples, or if anyone can help out with textual decipherments, I'd be glad to hear it.

Details of the exhibtion:

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Graffiti

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:23 am

Manuscripts being one of my passions I like to look for the marginal scribbles and playful notes slipped in by some scribes from the Saxon period onwards:

In MS. 174 (B.4.3) at Dublin Trinity College - of searbyrig ic eom jotted on the first flyleaf, indicating that the scribe came from Salisbury.

In MS. Lat.O.v.XVI.1 in the National Library of Russia (St Petersburg) - abcgdefgh and various incorrectly written Latin words.

I believe this second example demonstrates the testing of a freshly-cut nib to make sure that the width matched that in the previous text, since a change in nib size made a huge difference to the appearance of the work and the amount of text that could be fitted into each line. This also made a difference to the number of gatherings needed to complete the book, so a standard nib width was vital.

Various marginalia: "Thank God it will soon be dark", "O my hand", "The ink is thin", "Now I have written it all. For Christ's sake let me have a drink", "As the harbour is welcome to the sailor, so the last line to the scribe", "Writing is excessive drudgery".

Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

Marcus Woodhouse
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Re: Graffiti

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:48 am

I agree, it's one of the joys of looking at Books of Hours, to see the way they have been personalised, especially when it involves very improper images and language.


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