Calligraphers celebrate Arts Council England funding boost

I’m delighted to announce that my weekly calligraphy groups have been successful in accessing funding from Arts Council England to run a project inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The money, from the National Lottery Project Grants scheme, will enable the groups to work with guest artists, visit the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle and create work inspired by the highly decorative medieval manuscript.

They will then stage their own touring exhibition in early 2023.

Applying for ACE funding can be a daunting prospect, but I was spurred on by the enthusiasm of the groups and the support of several people and organisations.

Firstly, a big shout out to Laura Brewis at Sunderland Culture for organising two online workshops about ACE funding for creatives last year, which gave a great insight into getting to grips with the application process.

Taking part in the Crafting Connections programme run by Creative Fuse North East earlier this year also gave me the confidence to set the wheels in motion again for some ideas I had for the groups pre-Covid, so thanks also go to Dr Lauren Baker.

The Make the Most of South Tyneside programme has also played its part and Katy Milne, cultural programme officer at South Tyneside Council, was kind enough to cast her eye over my application form and offer some pointers.

My husband, Michael, did the same, as did Amanda Brophy, who attends my Friday group and used to write funding applications for a charity.

Inspired by Lindisfarne

We heard that the application had been successful just before the end of last term, but I didn’t want to say anything publicly until the money was safely in the bank – and it took a little longer than expected to tick all the right boxes!

So, our Inspired by Lindisfarne project kicks off this month, with two bookbinding workshops led by paper artist Yvette Ja, from Yvette Ja Studio, followed by a trip to the Laing to see the Gospels themselves in the third week of term.

The groups will then work with artist and printmaker Carrie Dennison, who will show them how to create Celtic Knotwork that can be incorporated into their calligraphy.

The rest of the term will be spent creating pieces of work for display in the new year at The Customs House in South Shields, 17Nineteen in Sunderland and South Shields Museum & Art Gallery.

So, that’s going to keep us busy until at least Easter!

The aim is to share our work with as wide an audience as possible and hopefully inspire others to be creative – as outlined in the ACE Let’s Create strategy and South Tyneside Council’s own cultural strategy, Making Waves.

My weekly groups were originally founded via the Cultural Spring, which was also supportive of my application, to widen participation in the arts and culture. I’m delighted that I can still help them learn new things several years later!

For more information about ACE and the support it offers, visit  

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