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Details: intertwined tail feathers
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Details: the foot of the bowl marked JB (Jessie Bain)

Birds on a bowl

Object number: ROMGH.2008.34.3

Type: Bowl

Technique: Painted

Material: Ceramic

Width: 11.2cm | Height: 6.3cm

Production date: 1946 - 1952

 Yes you can     No you cannot
Use the same Celtic patterns in your art and craft work Yes
Use this design for commercial purposes without the permission of the Copyright holder No
Commercially reproduce this object without the permission of the Copyright holder No

Bain explored how early medieval artists used stylised birds, animals and humans in his book Methods of Construction. He copies them from illustrated manuscripts like the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Kells. Examples are also shown from metalwork, like the Tara brooch.

The birds always have very long necks that are often interlaced with the tail feathers or neck of another. Their beaks may grasp neck, tail feather or foot of an adjacent bird. Or the head may turn back so that it can clutch its own body. This is what is painted here in a fairly simple red and blue design, with spots along necks and tail feathers.

Jessie Bain, George Bain’s wife, has painted the interlaced birds onto a plain glazed bowl, signing it JB on its base. She probably decorated it while they were living in Drumnadrochit. Having retired to the village, this is where Bain wanted to set up a College of Celtic Cultures. He hoped to encourage others to create their own designs on objects and revitalise Scottish artistic craftsmanship.

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction pages 104-117

Author: Diana Cobden

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