Judith Richardson-Dawes

Biography  Judith Richardson-Dawes

A Chance to Work With Gold!

For the last twelve years Judith Richardson-Dawes has worked for The National Trust teaching the rare skill of medieval gold illumination at Castle Drogo.

Judith, who has also been highly acclaimed by both Woman's Hour and Radio Times for her illumination work,  has had a piece of her fine artwork displayed in The Tate Modern in The Garden Pavilion.

Born in the old St. Leonard's Hospital, Sudbury, in 1956, Judith grew up in nearby Hadleigh, in an old rambling Tudor house on The Green. She showed an early aptitude for fine art, frequently visiting the sites of Constable's masterpieces in Dedham Vale and making sketches from some of the original paintings in Gainsborough's House.

After leaving Sudbury Upper School in 1974, Judith trained at Exeter University, Studying Combined Honours in English and Fine Arts. She then went on to take a course in craft print-making, traditional book binding and publishing.

In 2014 she was commissioned by The Causley Trust to design a commemorative piece  celebrating the renovation of Charles Causley's house, Cypress Well, in Launceston. Judith's design listed some of the illustrious donors to the project, including HRH Prince Charles, comedienne Dawn French, novelist  Rose Tremain and cartoonist Quentin Blake, as well as The Arts Council of Great Britain to name but a few.

Judith said," It was a real privilege to create a tribute piece to so talented a poet, who deserves far wider recognition. The three central strands of the piece exude a powerful sense of growth, with spring hawthorn and twisting strands of dog rose, complimenting the  poet's creativity and originality. The exuberant medieval border reinforces the point that Causley drew deeply on the English written tradition reaching back to the Childe Ballads. It was a great delight to place miniature versions of Causley's published books within the border, surrounded by swirling acanthus leaves and all on a backdrop of shimmering gold."

In 2015 Judith was commissioned and The Exeter Historic Buildings Trust, supported by Heritage Lottery, to create a piece depicting how the ancient St. Nicholas Priory in Exeter would have looked in its heyday. Based around the concept of the Choir, the Cloister, the Refectory, the Chapter House and the Almonry, Judith created five unique medieval border panels and illuminated letters to compliment the historical reconstruction drawings of artist Richard Parker. " This was a wonderful commission," said Judith," since I was able to create a history of illumination styles through time, beginning with the early 12th century Romanesque style and travelling forward in time to the High Gothic style in 1450, finishing with the exuberant  work of the late medieval period. It was intensely satisfying to be illuminating pieces for St. Nicholas Priory, where gold illumination almost certainly took place nine centuries ago."

However, it was when Judith's rare, specialist talents were recognized by The National Trust, that her workshops really blossomed. In 2005, Judith set up 'Medieval Manuscript Workshops,' and approached The Trust offering a sequence of workshops in the rarely taught skill of gold illumination. She has researched and designed the concepts for workshops and taught for The National Trust ever since. 

She now has a following in the West country and workshops fill almost as they are advertised! We are indeed very lucky that due to Judith still having family in East Anglia, she is able to come and teach a workshop here at Assington Mill.  Long may it continue!


Judith Richardson-Dawes