The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

A long time ago, before the internet, I read a book about a book. A problem with historical fantasies is that you don’t know the history, it’s hard to tell where the fantasy begins. So it didn’t occur to me that the book within the book was real. 

A decade passed. Bill's art moved from watercolours to ink. A friend loaned us a book. And in that book, pictures from a book. From the book inside the story. The library taught me more about the book. The Book of Kells.

No trip from the Coast to a city was complete without trawling a few second-hand book shops, and the summer of 1996 marked the end of the beginning. An illustrated introduction to the book. Full page photos, high resolution photos showing tiny sections in detail. 

Finally, in Bernard Meehan’s book, I understood why the book in R A MacAvoy’s story was worth going to such effort to protect. Why Owen Jones spent untold hours tracing a few selections for his Grammar of Ornament.

Even simplified down to what I could sketch, celtic illumination captivated me. The curves. The interlacing. Symmetry, asymmetry, balance… The non-artist of the family, I just had to learn to draw. The first piece that I inked is dated 6th March 1986. It’s a capital F made for our daughter Fran.

In theory, the book is impossible – experts claim that the technology was not available to craft a lens capable of magnifying the parchment enough for those 8th-century artists to possibly see where they were painting

The Book of Kells, it turns out, is alive and well. As are many other manuscripts from 1200 years ago. 

1 comment

  • Joy Baker

    Such a fascinating journey for you Chris.

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