For children, a stay in hospital is always associated with stress and anxiety—the fear of the unknown, the fear of pain and of the separation from family. When running various activities for children in my studio, I have seen how much they enjoy themselves. How interesting the discovery of calligraphy is, working with a pen that you need to soak in ink, in order for it to write! Writing letters within line guides, with a goose quill! Everything is an adventure for them. What a joy it was to make a small book yourself and discover the world of the Middle Ages in class. I thought it would be good to bring this enjoyment to children who have to deal with many difficult moments during hospital treatment.
Since 2014, together with a group of volunteers, we have been organizing workshops for young patients. The workshops take place regularly in St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Strzelecka Street in the children’s psychiatric ward and the University Children’s Hospital, Prokocim, Cracow.
We offer children various calligraphic and artistic activities, which at least for a moment focus their thoughts away from the illness that brought them to the hospital. Our workshops always refer to the subject of manuscripts and the medieval world:
THE YOUNG SCRIBE—workshops during which children have a chance to learn how the practical aspect of a medieval scribe’s work looked. They write letters with a goose quill and metal-nibbed pen. They practice writing letters in line guides in order to write their name.
NOTEBOOK IN GIRDLE BINDING—During these workshops we show children how a book was produced in the Middle Ages. Each child sews the leaves, prepares the cover, glues all the parts of the book together and finally manufactures a small notebook in with a girdle binding.
BEASTS FROM A BESTIARY—During these workshops we talk about medieval bestiaries, which were compendiums of knowledge about various real and imaginary creatures. We cut out various animals from cardboard and the children decorate them.
ANGELS FROM CODICES—During the Christmas season we help children to make angels. The patterns of the angels in these classes are taken from various medieval miniatures.