The Lovers of Beauty

During gilding, with Eskdale Restoration at The Old Vic, I declared it ‘an evil mistress’. Each part of the process is delicate, fine, work that requires skill, a steady hand and nerve. The priming, sizing are tempramental yet addictive – all done to bask in golden awe. Working on carved letters up a scaffold, on a noisy London Covid struck corner, with wind and sun made the job even more difficult. Evaporation, drying times, distruptions and wobble keep you super alert and physicaly fraught. The silent closeness to another person, where their breathing marks the gap between brushstrokes and their movements guiding your own, is good and revealing.

Our efforts were made more potent by the fantastic carving – the shape and skill of each letter, the words themselves – a beautfiul text and the woman they celebrated: Emma Cons. The pride and priveledge felt by being up close and personal with this made the fact we couldnt finish due to external forces even more difficult. So we’ve had to leave and the elusive awe is still unwon. In compensation Sue and I decided to add a Mahl stick and phrase from the Emma Cons plaque on nearby Leake St tunnels. How great to prime, size and gild this tool onto a wall that permits and celebrates skill, creativity and signwiriting ways. Like us, the Graf guys are drawn to words, shaped letters and gorgeous colours. So it seemed right to bring Emma and oursleves into this broad gang: The Lovers of Beauty.