Calligraphy is the traditional art of writing Chinese characters. After centuries of creation and involvement, calligraphy has become a unique art. It has become as much art as painting.
Calligraphy is not handwriting. It must show originality, style, strength and personality. Writing may be neat and even ornate, but that does not make it calligraphy. Tools used for calligraphy are called 'Four Treasures in Study', namely the Chinese brush, ink, stick, paper and stone. To learn calligraphy, one must first learn how to use a Chinese brush, and beginners start by copying the regular script.
Today, Tri Truyen La is one of the foremost calligraphers in the city of Manchester. He is also a talented artist and the unofficial photographer of Chinatown events and gatherings. He often uses calligraphy displays to promote the Chinese Library at the Manchester City Library.
“I devoted my life to arts. Money is not important to me because it is my talent and skill which has helped me through war and helped me settle down in Manchester. Now my children are grown up and living in this peaceful country.”
The Chinese Arts Centre presents contemporary work that sometimes incorporates calligraphy, for example, the work of Mary Tang, whose most recent exhibition was in 2010. The Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown is a good time to see calligraphers at work, and they will write your name in the calligraphic form for a small fee.
The development of calligraphy into an art owes much to the use of the Chinese writing brush and paper. The brush was invented before the 5th Century BC. It is subtle and responsive, and lines and strokes can be made exactly as the calligrapher intends. The quickly absorbent paper was invented in the early years of the Christian era and did not distort the characters' forms whilst drying. Furthermore, it defies correction. Unsatisfactory lines and strokes cannot be altered once they are on the paper. This is a commandment of calligraphy.
The most common calligraphic works are called regular, running and grass styles. The first is elaborate, with lines and strokes written one after another; the second is rapid, with lines and strokes joined together whenever convenient; and the third is a shorthand form of writing. The ideographic Chinese characters present an infinite variety of structural problems that challenge the artistic imagination. Horizontal and vertical lines, dots, hooks and slanting strokes form calligraphy. It is up to the artist to decide each mark's thickness, length and shape. The calligrapher must consider the fact that the size of the characters and the space between them contribute to the beauty of the composition and its rhythm. For variety, the calligrapher must not always write the same character in the same shape and size. To relieve the tendency of Chinese characters to be square, the artist may elongate or round them into new gracefulness.
Chinese calligraphy is an art, a philosophy and a form of relaxation. Its calm and orderly beauty attracts an ever-widening circle of admirers and practitioners.