The highlight for me of our brief stay in Australia was the talk on Gold on Parchment that I gave at the State Library of New South Wales. The Australian Society of Calligraphers and the State Library had done a great job of advertising the talk. This (right) was in the Sydney daily paper. Although it was advertised as mainly for calligraphers, it was clear on the day that there were also people from the library itself, including conservators, and those interested in manuscripts and history.
The State Library is a beautifully light and airy modern building almost opposite the Botanical Gardens, right in the heart of the city of Sydney. There was a stunning exhibition of photography on display while we were there.
On the day, though, the State Library realised that the room they had first allocated would be too small, and so they transferred the location for the talk to a larger room in the older library building. This was a wonderful red sandstone historical building looking out over the Botanical Gardens themselves, and a real landmark.
To get there we were taken through the library where there was a great mix of old and new, like this huge room lined with bookshelves and with a magnificent ceiling, yet with a modern glass staircase in the centre.
The room was a large one, but it quickly filled, and in the end there were over 200 people with some standing at the back for the whole two-hour presentation!
I was delighted that the short video of me cutting a quill, which I filmed the day before we left and then quickly imported into the Powerpoint presentation actually worked! There were interesting questions at the end, and I was delighted by the interest shown. Huge thanks are due to everyone involved in the State Library Events department (especially Samantha Hagan who kept very calm while we struggled to get the video clip up and working, and didn’t worry too much when we overran), and to the Australian Society of Calligraphers who were so welcoming and kind, especially Liz Firth who was my contact, and Bob Howe, the current President. I was even asked to do a repeat for the conservators, but sadly we were leaving the following day – perhaps next time!