Top heraldic artist owes career to Gillingham schooldays
AN ILLUMINATED document being presented to the Dalai Lama next week is the work of a heraldic artist whose career stems back to his time at Gillingham School.
Andrew Jamieson has created the gold-embellished document for the Templeton Prize, being awarded to the Dalai Lama at St Paul's Cathedral in London on Monday.
Mr Jamieson, 50, who lives at Henstridge, is among the handful of top heraldic artists in the world.
But he owes it all to his terrible handwriting as a Gillingham schoolboy and a day out that turned his early passion for knights of old into a career.
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His work is in demand all over the world with the Internet opening up new areas alongside more traditional clients including the royal family.
He produces the document for the Templeton Prize every year but this year the vellum is an extra-special one commemorating both the organisation's 40th anniversary and acknowledging the distinguished recipient.
Mr Jamieson said: "It started when I was at school and had terrible handwriting.
"My father gave me a book on calligraphy in the hope it would help.
"It did. I can do beautiful calligraphy but my handwriting is still bad!"
The calligraphy fits in alongside his love of heraldic art, sparked when he visited the College of Arms in London as a youngster.
He studied at Salisbury College of Art before winning a coveted place on the Calligraphy, Heraldry and Manuscript Illumination course at Reigate School of Art - the only course of its kind in the world.
Mr Jamieson, who has lived in Sherborne and now spends a lot of time in the USA, said: "I did art in the sixth form at Gillingham and I did manuscript illumination and made a little medieval book, which I kept."
While still at school he created the illuminated documents for the town's twinning with Le Neubourg.
Since then he has been busy with a range of documents including the Letters Patent presented to Prince William when he was made the Duke of Cambridge last year.
Typically a coat of arms can take three or four days and an illuminated document up to six days.
He added: "But I have got quicker over the years. I do a lot freehand now where I used to have to trace it all out.
"I wanted to do this since I was about seven and became interested in heraldry and knights.
"With the Internet bringing more commissions I find I am really busy."