Steve Messam

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Date: June - July 2013

Client: English Heritage

Location: Lindisfarne Priory, Holy Island, Northumberland. UK

Dimensions: 8.5m x 8.5m

Materials: glass jars, vegetable dyes

Further info: Lindisfarne Priory

              colour jars  

An installation in Lindisfarne Priory

28th June - 8th July 2013

'Carpet' is a temporary installation within the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory which both celebrates the visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East and the role of colour created on the island.
'Carpet' is made from over 30,000 glass jars of ink arrayed on the grass in patterns taken from the Lindisfarne Gospels. Measuring over 100 sq metres, the intensity of the colour will transform the lower end of the Priory and will become particularly magical in sunlight.

The word Carpet is an early English word and contemporary with the priory's heyday in the 7th Century. The elaborately patterned pages in the Lindisfarne Gospels which preceded each of the four gospels are known as Carpet Pages. Their geometric designs are a blend of Celtic, Pictish, Germanic and middle-Eastern styles. This blend reflects the cosmopolitan society within the Priory at the time.

Carpet pages are also found in Hebrew and Islamic texts created around the same time. Such was the overlap in cultures. Monks at Lindisfarne in the 7th century would also have used prayer mats and faced east during morning prayer.

Colour was a major feature in art in the 7th century on the island, as can be seen on the painted replica naming stones. The inks used in the decorated pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels were all made on the island from locally sourced materials: red from iron-oxide (rust) or burnt lead. The green was from verdigris made from copper, purples were from distilled whelks and the yellows and blues are from plants (the blue is from woad, not lapis stone).

'Carpet' is made from the same palette of seven colours used in the gospels: red, yellow, blue, green, purple, black and white. The design is made using the same geometric techniques used in the manuscripts using dividers and compasses.



funded by English
              Heritage and Arts Council England