The Feeling the Word workshop was such fun, I clean forgot that I was meant to be blogging about it. Whoops!

As promised in the flyer, choreographer and performance writer Dr Alys Longley invited us to think of our bodies as writing tools. Writing familiar names in the air with shoulder or elbow loosened me up a treat and reinforced her premise that the way you hold your body shifts the way you think and feel about what you do.

In his quick tour of the development of writing and writing tools, Dr Alistair Kwan beguiled us with quirky tidbits of information. Did you know that the serif originally gained popularity as a way to make chiselled letters more elegant or that feathers from the left and right wings of a bird produce differently shaped letters?

Alys and Alistair believe that, contrary to common perception, writing is a gross motor skill.

Staff writing gothic script. (Video still by Billy Wong, Media Productions)

Repeatedly copying letters in blackletter script was absorbing and, yes, it does seem that one of the best ways to learn how to read a script is to learn how to write it.  (I’ve even been inspired to embark on Kanji for my trips to Japan.) The various tools and writing surfaces on offer allowed us to discover for ourselves how they can affect the readability, ergonomics and pleasure of writing. (We much preferred chalk on board for medieval script.)

Large pieces of chalk and small blackboards were some of the various tools and surfaces available to work on. (Video still by Billy Wong, Media Productions)


I don’t know how it happened but at the end, as we quickly worked our way forward to more modern scripts, I saw to my surprise that my almost forgotten cursive script was more readable and elegant than it had ever been.


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