|in Latin||mysteries of light||Salve Regina|
|to Our Lady||sorrowful mysteries|
|bookmarkers||glorious mysteries||experiments on plastic|
|to the saints|
|in wood||Advent and Nativity||Magnificat|
|in polystyrene||Passiontide||The Our Father|
Orison is an old English term for prayer; my calligraphy is of prayers and sacred texts - artistic orisons if you like, hence orisonart.
I think I'm influenced by Gregorian Chant which I've taught in my monastery for 20 years; a sacred text in a sacred language is clothed in various melodies and rhythms in order to enhance its meaning. This, together with the joyful inventiveness of our medieval calligraphic ancestors (cf the Lindisfarne Gospels, the book of Kells) makes me feel quite free to scribble, paint, chisel and manipulate matter in all directions - even to the point of becoming quite illegible.
Yes, I know some of my works are impossible to read, but legibility is not always my priority; though the truth of the text remains central, if the artistry sometimes goes wild, so much the better. We are drowned in printed words or virtual texts and the manuscript, the writing hand is forgotten. And yet the humble hand is brilliantly conceived by our Creator. My video, The Our Father, is among other things an attempt to appreciate these calligraphic manual movements.
I deliberately avoid the classic calligraphic styles because I want artistry to predominate over any fixed letter form; each letter is a new invention.
Best therefore to read the title of a drawing before trying to decypher the picture - savour the sacred text first and then I hope you will enjoy the colourful squiggles, (see The glorious mysteries ).
In general you can click on an image to get an enlarged photo.
My works are non-representational, non-figurative; no acanthus leaves, no Mother-and-Childs in the letters, and no landscaped backgrounds. I feel that since the Reformation figurative art has dominated the scene too much and logically culminated in photography and moving photos ( movies ) and now 3D films ( which are even more moving - groan ! ), all of which are excessively glued to what we see with our eyes. I'm trying to express what no eye can see, no ear can hear; the written word (Scripture, liturgical texts and sayings of Saints) remains the best way to express the mysteries of the Faith. The last thing I want to depict is what my eyes can already see in this life, a limited time which does not and cannot fully satisfy one's thirst for the infinite. Christian art of the past seems to have been predominantly figurative but when we consider the enormous importance attached to artistic handwritten religious texts up to the invention of printing, and count calligraphy among the fine arts alongside painting, sculpture, mosaics etc, we should conclude that Christian art was predominantly calligraphic. The Word of God written beautifully carried more weight than the great cathedral sculptures.
Christ’s creation of this mysterious world containing marvelous substances like wood, stone, metal and glass is all endlessly admirable, but as nothing compared to what He says; this is why I use all sorts of media ( paper, glass, steel, polystyrene, see through plastic, oak, electric wires, videos...) in order to rejoice in the truths of the Christian Faith, realities which stay unchanging even after all art has turned to dust.
I hesitate to call my noises by such a noble term; perhaps “a friar’s keyboard frolics” would be better, but I’m not sure friars should frolic about.
I don’t write music, I improvise on the organ, piano and synthesizer and edit the recording on the computer. I started musical inventing in 2007, when, after 15 years as monastery organist, I found myself in a rather dead end as an interpreter. I was also in need of home made ( i.e. monastery-made ) music sound tracks for my videos. An excellent local organist, Mme Grellety-Boviel, advised me to work at improvisation and to my surprise I obeyed.
Don't expect any nice tonal pieces; I avoid using the major and minor diatonic scales for more than short moments and since 2014 have been exploring microtonal music with relish. I owe my humble inventions to all our musical heritage especially: Gregorian Chant, the eastern Christian liturgies, O. Messiaen, Penderecki, Antonio de Cabezon, Dutilleux, classical Chinese composers and Debussy. See my most recent works on https://soundcloud.com/cwrh59/tracks
Brother artist ?
I’m what’s called a lay brother which is a religious ( under the 3 excellent monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience ) who is not a priest. A question naturally arises; how does an artist cope in the cloister? Aren’t you totally frustrated as an artist?
Well, on browsing through my efforts you soon see that they are all founded on texts to do with my faith; to put it bluntly, if I didn’t have the faith I’ve been granted, I’d never bother to make any art. Indeed 30-odd years ago, when an ardent agnostic, my painting and drawing fizzled away to nothing; express yourself, they said at college, but there was nothing to express.
Being a religious, being a mendicant friar, with the restrictions and abnegations that that implies, is in fact the source of my motivation.
There are different schools of spirituality in the Catholic Church, and my choice has fallen on the Dominican way of life. Now Dominicans are a pretty intellectual lot and my brethren*( link ) publish a review, write books and give learned conferences. Stocking up the library is top priority, buying calligraphy pens is rather low on the agenda. Well, in fact, I agree with that.
Today the artist is put on a pedestal; he’s a Very Special Person, almost a Divine Person, and encouraged to do anything he likes because his likes and dislikes are supreme: humph, please wake me up later. In my community such a being is a fellow human and quite a humble one, for art is seen as subservient to theology and philosophy. In my medievally backward circles thinking straight is supreme, which leads directly to raising the heart and mind to God, which is what prayer is. Art is a welcome part of monastic life, but just a part; art is not a be-all and end-all. So, really, my drawings, sculptures and stained glass can be grinned at or discreetly disposed of (after my death please); so what? For, of their subject matter, Christ says, “ Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away”. Mat. 24,35; Mk. 13,31; Lu. 21,33
Br Vincent M. Hoare,
Fraternité Saint Vincent Ferrier,
53340 Chémeré le Roi,
You are welcome to contact me by using the contact button at the top of the page; don't be put off by it being in French !
*though my community is Dominican in spirituality, we are not members of the Dominican Order.