Left-handed calligraphing is one of the oldest forms of art, dating back centuries and making up more than half of the world’s known artworks.
But there’s one piece of modern art that has made the move to left-handed, a piece called “Heart,” by the British calligrapher, Daniel James.
James wrote “Heart” in a style reminiscent of that of the British artist David Hockney, but he chose to draw his characters left-hand, as opposed to right-handed.
In the letterhead, he wrote: “Left hand.
I feel a lot of sadness, and a lot to be very sad about.
So left hand.
And right, and left.”
It’s been called a “left-handed” letter and the story has been told on the BBC’s Good Morning Britain, where presenter Emma Bower said James had “done something very brave.”
James told the BBC that the letter he wrote in left-handed writing was his attempt to be “more like a British artist and to take his right-hand writing to the next level.”
The letterwriting movement began in the U.K. in the 1950s, with the “Left Hand Writing Movement” led by writer Mary Beard, and its main supporter, the British Calligraphy Society, which had its origins in a collaboration with Hockneys family art studio, Hockleys Royal Art Museum.
In a 2016 study of art history, the London School of Economics and Political Science said left-wing art “has had an increasing role in shaping the way we see and appreciate art.”
But it’s not just art that’s left-leaning.
The United States has a left-of-centre bias in its art and media, and the University of Maryland has studied the history of right-wing politics.
Art historian Stephen K. Mankiewicz of the University College London says left-and-right bias is still “present in the public consciousness.”
He wrote that left- and right-aligned art forms have always been important for art history.
The art history of art historians, Mankiewis says, is shaped by the political and social movements of the time.
Art historians who study right- and left-aligned works often say the left-versus-right argument is “very influential.”
Mankiewicz, author of the book “Left-Left Art and Politics,” says that artists’ left-sides and right sides are influenced by different social forces, such as race, class and gender.
Right-siders may also be more aware of the political significance of left-left art.
Mankiewi says left and right alignments are “quite prevalent” in the United States, and “it’s an old tradition of left hand writing.”
He says the trend toward left-facing art is also part of American culture.
Right and left alignments can even influence people’s political ideologies, as we know that in the 1920s, when American politics became polarized, many artists adopted left-right orientations.
For the British author Daniel James, his new “left handed” calligraphic work is his attempt “to put a new spin” on the history and meaning of left handed writing.
James’ letterhead is left-sided, as he drew the characters in a way that is “almost left-footed.”
He writes, “Left handed, I feel sad and I have to do something very sad, and I am sad about it.
And so I am left-willed.”
The Heart, created by James in 2015, is now part of the permanent collection of the James Calligraphical Society, the society founded in 1865.
The calligraphical work will be on display at the James Hockley Art Gallery in Cambridge, England, from May 23 to May 27.