3.1.13 Ewan Clayton

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  • Born 1956
  • Member of the Guild 1983-1989
  • Calligrapher, teacher, writer

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Ewan Clayton was the last person to join the Guild which, as a grandson of Valentine KilBride, he had known since childhood. After studying for a history degree at St Andrew’s, he took a Diploma in Bookbinding and Calligraphy at Roehampton. He started working at the Guild as a calligrapher in 1971 becoming a full member in 1983. After the guild closed, carried on with his calligraphy work, his lettering frequently being experimental, developing the expressive potential of the word-as-image underlying much of the work of Guild Artists, such as Gill and David Jones, also fundamental to the calligraphic arts of Islam.

Clayton with one of his works on the Sussex Downs

He also worked as University academic, writer and consultant to Rank Xerox. Today he is Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland and a core member of staff at The Royal Drawing School. He is a visiting lecturer in calligraphy to the type courses at the University of Reading and The Cooper Union, New York City.

Ewan was awarded an MBE in the 2014 reflecting his work for various charities, particularly The Heritage Crafts Association, The Crafts Study Centre, The Pakistan Islamic Arts Institute in Lahore, The Irene Wellington Educational Trust, the prison arts charity The Koestler Trust. Also in 2014 he was awarded the first Karlgeorg Hoefer Prize. Recent work includes being academic advisor to The British Library’s ‘Writing: Making your Mark’ an exhibition that explored 5000 years of writing from hieroglyphs to emojis, he also edited the exhibition catalogue.

He lived for many years in Woodbarton Cottage, a former Guild property, and illustrated the Folio Society edition of David Jones’s In Parenthesis with his calligraphy. He has written many articles about the history of the Guild and is its leading historian. He now lives in Brighton and is still closely involved in the work of the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. I understand he is working on a book about the history of the Guild, something which will be enormously welcome.

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