The Art of David Rankine




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A Historical Perspective The Celtic Illuminators - my historical inspiration
  It has long been my feeling (or suspicion), only recently confirmed, that the monk/artists who produced Illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells (7th,8th centuries C.E) were painting something other than "pretty pictures". I have actually been present, at lectures etc. when these magnificent pieces of "atavistic" art were passed off as being "merely" decorative.
   It is my belief that through their art and their devotion to their art (devotion to the process which included much prayer and mental/spiritual/emotional preparation almost a meditative preparation) that these artist were attempting to capture images of "GOD" or the "ALL THAT IS".
   This is a "GOD" or CREATOR who is a being ,or state of being, which is about in its fluidic, apparently chaotic natural state of being. These artists did not perceive a doe-eyed creator  or a white robed and bearded "heavenly father" but a swirling mass of energy and creative force from which all matter and energy flows, to which all belongs and to which all returns
   Many of the Celtic monasteries which produced works like the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Lindisfarne Gospels were situated on islands islands exposed to the full force of Atlantic weather patterns. Every day had its sun and wind and rain. Clouds boil across blue skies and shafts of sun-light blast through the overcast to illuminate, briefly, patches of ocean and land. There are violent storms and big seas and days of exquisite calm.
   Imagine the sense of absolute wonder and bliss experienced by the monks when viewing these sights on a daily basis. To them GOD was all around them-ever present in the weather, ocean, land and animals. God was around them and in them and they were part of God. It is this GOD OF THE CREATION that they were trying to honor, make sense of and capture on the sheets of vellum.
   One only has to look at the Initial Page for the Gospel according to Mathew the famous Chi Rho page. It captures like no other piece of art I have seen, the concept of the "WORD"** becoming manifest, GOD making him/herself know to the human eye*. The movement and pure dynamics in this page are right out of Old testament imagery it is the voice coming from the burning bush or from between the golden Angels on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. It is almost blinding in its intensity but it is God made visible.

 Book of  Kells. Mathew 1:18  circa 800 CE

   The viewer of a page like the Chi Rho page almost feels drunk and ready to fall over from loss of balance. Imagine how the team of monks working on it must have felt drunk with joy, and creation amazed by the images they were producing. They were capturing ,on the page, a snapshot of creation of the energy BEHIND creation - Of the force behind the energy the force which binds us all together- plant, animal, rock, water and sky. This snapshot is but a brief glimpse of the ALL THAT IS as if the veil has been pulled aside to expose things as they really are.
  Look into the masses of spirals surrounding the "X" on the Chi Rho page and you will see the moment of the "Big Bang". You will see the "dark matter" astrophysicists talk about. You will see the "energy matrix" which holds all of existence together. You will "see" birdsong, the call of whales and a new-born's cries. You will see LIFE.
* there is a Hindu word for this: netra mangala. It means: " it is Thenceforth of God". The WORD has been spoken and made manifest and form is created from the void.
**  to me, WORD is the which causes distortion to coalesce into clarity. It is that which initiates the life cycle and that which starts the growth of an embryo or the spin of a galaxy. It is a fractal- tiny detail and big picture, all in one - sub-molecular and multi-dimensional in its vastness.

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