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Drawing the Ulbster Cross

Object number: ROMGH.2006.9

Type: Camera-ready artwork

Material: Card

Width: 16cm | Height: 21cm

Production date: 1937

 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

The drawing shows the culmination of Bain’s studies of one of the crosses on the Pictish stone from Ulbster. The interlaced knotwork design clearly fascinated him. Some ten years later he created a set of posters that unpick and then re-use the pattern.

Here, Bain emphasises the single continuous line of knotwork in the design. He sets out six stages for building up the fill of the cross, which is made up of five interconnected square units. At the bottom left Bain also shows how to create a more complex single square design. Its self-contained interlace is derived from the arms of the cross. It is remarkable how much ‘instruction’ he built into a single drawing.

This illustration is one of four that introduce how to draw knotwork panels in Bain’s Celtic Art, Methods of Construction. Although he prepared it in 1937, this drawing wasn’t published until 1951.

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction page 42 Plate G

Author: Alastair Morton

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