Handwriting- a dying art form

Eleanor and I were back in St Josephs for our Wednesday meet up. We had arranged to meet with whichever residents were amenable and available this morning to talk more about life now, and to try to glean some handwriting from those willing.

I wanted to ask the residents (and staff for that matter, to write out some pharases by hand. For our upcoming show in Glór, yy original plan was to type phrases onto the back of the memory cards, with the related drawing on the other side. However the idea of the residents handwriting featuring on the cards seemed to me to be a far superior solution. Eleanor went off travelling around the wards to those less mobile and managed to get some wonderful writing, not to mention some memorable phrases. One in particular from a gentleman whom revealed he had secured a pilots licence from Shannon a long time ago. He said,

“When flying I felt myself to be part of another world”

He translated this into abbreviated Irish and wrote this down too,  but I need to check with my mother in law who is a retired Irish teacher on the correct spelling and phrasing of this so as to do this particular gentleman justice.


Sure enough Eleanor and I were thrilled with the variety of styles we had collected, from only a relatively few residents whom we had seen that day. From spidery wandering cursive script, to careful printing by shaky hands, bent low to the page, to confident scrawls across the page, to quavery lines just about decipherable, like fading memories or a forgotten conversation. I have always been fascinated by handwriting and have found that you can usually see a lot of a person’s character in their writing. I know nothing about the business of analysing handwriting professionally but the very breadth of the spectrum of the styles of writing we garnered today are a reflection of the various personalities and varying lives of the residents who are working with us on The Circle Of Life. .

I copied some of the phrases we’d been donated out onto a piece of card, see above. The white script against the black increases their aesthetic power. The act of carefully copying out the script, trying to follow the pattern the original writers pen made, reenforced my realization that we need to work harder at preserving the practise of  handwriting, which essentially is a dying art. Now we tap and scroll instead. Eleanor intends to collect more handwriting when she is in and out of St Josephs which will be great, as we will benefit from as many people contributing as possible.

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