”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 moved from watercolours to ink. A friend loaned us a book. And in that book, pictures from the 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 captivates 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.
Trinity College, Dublin, has shared the Book of Kells and other early Irish manuscripts with the world. The British Library has images of the Lindisfarne Gospels and other 8th-9th century works. I’m just starting to discover other manuscripts form museums around the world. I still lose hours looking at a single page.” Chris