The artworks displayed on these pages are the result of a life-long passion for art, a penchant for detail possibly bordering on obsessive/compulsive, a keen interest in medieval European and British culture, and a deep-felt -- if not entirely ancestral (there may be a wee bit of Scottish blood in my family's distant past) -- connection with all things Celtic.
I started "doodling" with basic knotwork and interlacings about ten years ago. The harder I worked at it, the more interested I became in its history and origins; the more I learned, the deeper my admiration and respect grew for the original artisans.
Imagine...in the 7th century AD - around the time the renowned Book of Kells was written - monastic illuminators toiled over their art for eight or more hours a day under conditions that would be considered deplorable by today's standards. Their living quarters were rustic at best; the scriptoriums where they worked were almost always drafty and poorly lit. No candles were allowed because the risk of fire was too great, and the manuscripts too precious. The work space was cramped, the tools crude, yet day after day the scribes and illuminators bent over their desks, pouring every ounce of their strength, skill, intellect, and faith into their ink-stained hands because it was God's work they did, and it had to be right. It had to be perfect. One mistake, however small, would result in scrapping an entire page and starting all over again.
Bear in mind, eyeglasses did not exist back then. The magnifying glass (as we know it today) would not be invented for another 400-600 years. Yet somehow they managed to accomplish feats of artistic skill that would challenge even the most adept artists of today, equipped with the finest tools and instruments modern technology has to offer. I think the following statement sums it up rather well:
"The detail...is amazing, with no one symbol duplicated elsewhere in the book (of Kells). In one spot there are over 158 lacings of a white ribbon contained in a square inch and nowhere can there be found an error...no wonder that it was believed that only angels could have written (it)."
BW, April 2000
I can only hope that over time, with considerable patience and practice and the benefit of modern tools at my disposal, I might come close to attaining such skill.
That said, I'd like to give credit to a few individuals who've served, distantly, as mentors, instructors, or just sources of inspiration...
George Bain (Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction) Aiden Meehan (Celtic Design: Knotwork: The Secret Method of the Scribes, et.al.) ...and last, but far from least, the many ancient, mostly anonymous, artisans and illuminators who were the first to set chisel to stone, pen to parchment, to create the magnificent works that still amaze and enthrall us today.
Go raibh maith agat!