Escape Artists' exhibit sees Trisha Klus unchain her calligraphic works

Cowichan calligrapher Trisha Klus with one of her Latin-word, gold-leaf vellum pieces bound for The Escape Artists
Cowichan calligrapher Trisha Klus with one of her Latin-word, gold-leaf vellum pieces bound for The Escape Artists' multi-media March art show at The Loft.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Artist Trisha Klus — possibly Cowichan's only goat-skin vellum calligrapher — and the Escape Artists invite folks on A Nature Walk through Mill Bay's Loft Gallery.

Klaus is among seven multi-media artists showing Mother Nature-inspired work through April 12 at The Loft.

The Cobble Hill artist — a former captain, and one of the Canadian military's first women aircrew members — is sharing several illuminated pieces of her delicately detailed calligraphy on vellum.

"It's goat-skin vellum," said the paper-and-lettering artist, and hand-bound book binder who buys smooth vellum skin for about $50 a square foot from England.

"Vellum's hard to come by. It has it's own personality. It was used in medieval manuscripts and books back in about the 1500s.

"Now it's used for special documents and fine art."

Including Klus' Millennium Collection Envelopes illustrating people and places from 68 Canadian stamps issued in 2000 by the post office as the Millennium Collection.

"The love of letters and the written word are revealed in my work where the text often becomes part of the image for its own shape and beauty," she said, noting texture and structure are key.

"My goal is to create artwork and artist's books that tell a story in a graphic and meaningful way."

Klus clicked with calligraphy in 1995 "then I was introduced to the book arts."

"I've done printmaking, collage, letter-press printing — now I like to combine them in my projects."

Commissions span precise penmanship for wedding certificates, endearing quotes and poems, plus custom wedding albums, explained Klus, a founding Warmland Calligraphers' member.

"I use nibs and brushes, and I even have some quills."

Her books and artworks have been published in Somerset Studio, Handcraft Illustrated, and Bound & Lettered.

She's also been in shows with the Fairbank Calligraphy Society, Cowichan's Printmakers' Only Group, Canadian Book Binders and Book Artists Guild, Warmland Calligraphers, The Escape Artists, and The Sooke Fine Arts Show.

Klus' first solo show occurred in 2011.

Her illuminated manuscripts see 23-carat gold used in the rare art form.

"With book arts, there aren't many people doing it, so I'm pretty well self taught though I've taken a few workshops."

Meanwhile, calligraphy's undergone something of a renaissance, as illustrated during International Calligraphers' Conferences — one hosted by the Warmland Calligraphers in recent years.

"It's an art form that's been revived. People are rediscovering a hand-crafted art, and hand-bound books is one of them."

Other Escape Artists unlocking work include Shirley Lawrence Bellows (watercolour, acrylic, pastel, coloured pencil), Betty Cavin (watercolour), Sandy Knowles (acrylics), Joan Lee (watercolour), Amie Roman (original prints), plus Heather Stevens (acrylics, photography).

Your ticket

What: Escape Artists' A Nature Walk

When: March 1 to April 12; opening event at 11 a.m. March 2.

Where: The Loft Gallery, Mill Bay Centre



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