Applied key patterns

It is fascinating to study the cover of this magazine, which was first published in 1948. Designed by George Bain, he presents the Saltire flag in a most unusual way. He emphasises the Scottish and Gaelic focus of the publication with two different key patterns. There is one for the blue background and another for the white cross. The diagonal setting of the key pattern is typical of Pictish design so it is a very apt choice.

Bain also wrote an article for this edition of Alba, Scotland’s Neglected Art Heritage. In it he sets out his dream of creating a college to teach ways of using Celtic and Pictish art in craftwork. He also writes about the importance of using mathematical and geometrical formulae to set out the designs. From his teaching experience he knew that young people and adults could learn this well. They produced Celtic designs using a wide range of materials and skills, such as embroidery and woodcarving.

Some of their creations are included in Bain’s Methods of Construction, which was printed three years after this magazine. His design for Alba’s cover is also in the book, encouraging others to use Celtic art in interesting modern contexts.