Calumcille ann an Alba
The first folio, on display at the Tarbat Discovery Centre, from the Stories on Skins project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, depicts the story of Saint Colmcille’s life in Scotland. Parchment and traditional pigments.
Hello, I’m Thomas Keyes, welcome to my website. I’m trying to create a comprehensive record of all of the techniques involved in producing a manuscript such as the Book of Kells so there’s quite a lot to get through and I haven’t posted it all up yet, if you’ve got a question or are interested in something that’s not yet covered get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org The site also documents my other manuscript inspired art and projects, from Gaelic to Graffiti, and is where I let people know about upcoming courses, exhibitions or new artwork.
As I produce all of my artwork on parchment that I make myself on the Black Isle from waste deer skins I can’t rush anything so sometimes acquiring my artwork involves a bit of patience. Even the limited edition prints are on real parchment, they sometimes take a little longer to arrive but unlike giclee prints they are environmentally sustainable and will last many hundreds of years. Also insular art was designed to be on parchment, it just looks better!
Below is my carefully crafted biographical artist’s statement but in summary I used to write on everything but now I just write on parchment.
My work sits in the space created by two letter writing traditions that washed up on the shores of Ireland 1500 years apart yet share much in form, content and cultural application. The graffiti culture that spread from the New York Transit System and took root in Belfast in 1983 and the book culture that arrived sometime in the 5th century with Romano British missionaries and went on to facilitate the greatest feat of calligraphy ever achieved with the Book of Kells in the 9th century.
As a trained and active graffiti writer from the age of 12 I have been brought up within the cultural practices of one of these traditions and now as a self taught Insular manuscript illuminator I produce all the parchment and pigments I need from my surroundings in order to engage with the ancient tradition of the Insular Monastic scribe.
The cultural epoch that these two calligraphic bookends span has formed the modern literate mind which for most of us is our only tool with which to engage the world. By remaining rooted within these traditions while engaging with themes both ancient and contemporary I aim to gain new perspectives on the seemingly benign yet revolutionary matrix that binds our culture: the alphabet and it’s evolving applications.