In the late 1940s and early 1950s George Bain was advising the Kidderminster carpet firm of Quayle & Tranter Ltd. It seems that they asked Bain to produce some designs for a logo for the company. In our collection there are four different drafts. This design was the only one of them in which Bain tried to incorporate some Celtic ornament in the form of very angular knotwork.
It’s a shame, but there is no evidence that any of the logo designs were used by the firm. However, Bain supplied several rug designs, some of which were actually commercially produced. Quayle and Tranter also used other Celtic designs for their manufacture of carpets.
The work is a reproduction of the opening double page of St John’s Gospel in the Book of Durrow. I have created the work on rag paper using archival watercolours, acrylic ink with added gesso and 24 carat gold leaf embellishment aimed at giving the modern viewer an appreciation of the. wonder and awe with which 7th and 8th century readers of the manuscript must have held the pages.
Saint Ninian, bishop, missionary, and apostle to Scotland, drawn and painted in the style of a early medieval illuminated manuscript. Inspired by the Book of Kells, the ruins of Whithorn Abbey, and artifacts such as the clog-rinny (the Bell of St Ninian).
A new image illustrated using watercolour and coloured pencil.
Based on the ancient celtic symbol of rebirth and my love of my garden and the surrounding trees, the Green Man has been portrayed many times in various forms. While not technically as intricate as previous work, I like the idea of the visual link between the creative style and the ancient celtic tradition.
It is difficult for people in the 21st century, routinely surrounded by colours of every hue, to imagine how the sight of the Book of Durrow would have affected viewers in the late 600s AD. I have attempted to convey some of this wonder by recreating pages in watercolour and ink using modern lightfast organic pigments augmented with raised gesso and 24 carat gold leaf in the manner of later medieval illuminated manuscripts.
While this treatment may seem like heresy to some, I argue that my own experience when I first witnessed the transformation that the addition of polished gold brought to the designs was a valuable addition to my understanding of the experiences of 7th century and later early medieval viewers of these books. The addition of polished gold leaf not only adds the experience of ‘the Light of the World’ reflecting out of each page, but it also helps tie the designs more firmly to the Eastern manuscript traditions of Byzantine and Greek Orthodox religious art.
This is a further attempt at reproducing a double page illumination from the Book of Durrow in modern organic watercolour pigments similar in tone to how the pages might have looked when first illuminated back around 680 AD.
I have again embellished some areas of the illumination with raised gesso and 24 carat gold leaf in an attempt to give modern eyes the sense of awe and wonder that the original manuscript might have induced in the world of mainly muted tones in the 7th century.
This design began as a pen and ink drawing. It was then painted with watercolors and scanned. Digital text was added before it was printed.
An illustration based on the old Scots poem of the Robin and the Wren.
The pair are sitting safely on the sill of the church, whilst the predators the robin meets on his way make up the imagery on the stain glassed window. They are frozen in time and therefore unable to pursue the robin or his new bride.
The composition allowed me to re-use or adapt a number of previous works including the red kite, the foxes, the cats and the robin previously used as a Christmas card.
The original image was produced in watercolour with detail using coloured pencil.
Picture of Saint Andrew, Apostle and Patron Saint of Scotland, in the style of a Celtic illuminated manuscript.
An illuminated treble clef, done for a friend to celebrate completion of her music degree.
Originally inspired by two sisters singing Gaelic harmonies at a pub in Glasgow Scotland, this piece has come to represent Áine and Grainne, sisters of Irish mythology. Áine, whose name means “radiance”, was believed to rule over the light half of the year and Grainne reigned over the darker half. Grainne might also represent another aspect of Áine, the shadow and light that dwells within us all. This piece was painted with mixed media on hand-made paper.
These are two of George Bain’s exquisitely restrained interlace designs, created for painting onto white china dinner or tea sets. Both are made up of two strands interlacing into six motifs. One is formed of paired forms. The other has larger, slightly different single shapes.