23 June 2014
Three incredible days in Corvey Abbey near the German town of Höxter in Westphalia. Charlemagne founded the monastery and constructed the great Westwork as his throne room. From here he governed the eastern provinces of his empire. The building still stands, and has just received the title of Unesco World Heritage site. To celebrate, two days of calligraphic performances with medieval music were held in the abbey.
As a boy I was in awe of Charlemagne, but I never imagined that I would be invited to give a calligraphic performance in his actual throne room. I turned one corner of the room into a scriptorium, unfurled long sheets of calligraphy over a sloping desk, lit the candles and sat down to write. An over-the-shoulder camera projected every movement of my pen onto the 1200 year old arched above, giving the public the chance to follow the work up close. As the choir sang the Pater Noster and Veni Creator Spiritus I wrote a pure Carolingian minuscule. As Gregorian chant gave way to polyphony, the pen also performed more florid movements. At the stately pace of the singing, the texts were complete as the final AMEN was sung.
Very memorable, very moving. My thanks to Hans Hermann Janssens and the whole team in Corvey!
Image Credit: Wolfgang Noltenhans