In 1979, while attending the calligraphy classes of Dena Davida, co-founders Trudy Novack and Marion Zimmer came up with the idea of forming a non-profit association, which was named La Société des calligraphes de Montréal. Soon after, other students joined and within a short time, with the help of the calligraphy society of New York, guest artists arrived ready and willing to share their talents and experiences. By the following year, a newsletter was introduced to help pass on information about calligraphy, and of the two suggested names, L’Arabesque was unanimously adopted. Meetings were held in both languages, with a French version of L’Arabesque accompanying the English.
Within a few years, enrolment in classes and workshops increased, and the quality was set high. As the Montreal group was a fledgling one, most of the teachers initially came from either the United States or Great Britain. An average of three workshops a year took place from 1980 to 1994. After a much quieter decade, the Society has energetically sprung back to life in recent years, its membership and workshops soaring back up in numbers, with the input of local teachers of high calibre, and guest calligraphers from America and Europe. In this respect the Society has been doubly blessed throughout its existence; we have had the good fortune of welcoming many world-renowned calligraphers, with many more already scheduled and to come; in addition, many of our members, teachers themselves, have been pillars who have sustained and deeply influenced the Society.
Members were quickly encouraged to demonstrate their knowledge through exhibitions and demonstrations, both in the Montreal area and beyond. La Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur and the Espace Ars Longa in Montreal, La Maison Rodolphe DuGuay in Nicolet-Sud and Université du Québec à Chicoutimi all had their walls decorated with the works of these increasingly talented calligraphy artists.
As with any developing group, the Society’s logo has been updated several times; the latest creation, adopted in the spirit of our 30th anniversary celebrations, was designed by Lorna Mulligan. Our previous logos were by Robert Lepine (1981) and Luc Saucier (1994). Along with the new logo, our website has been revamped for our 30th anniversary, giving it a fresher, more updated look.
We will keep working hard to create more public awareness of La Société des calligraphes de Montréal by promoting the work of current members and visiting artists. This undertaking is an integral part of our charter, and we are enthusiastically committed to sharing our love and learning of calligraphy with others.
Vivian Lapa and Marion Zimmer