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St. John’s Illuminated Manuscript….Guest Blogger – Penny Peters

July 5, 2014 defines the word illuminate as: 1. To supply or brighten with light; light up. 2. To make lucid or clear; throw light on (a subject). 3. To decorate with lights, as in celebration. 4. To enlighten, as with knowledge or with spirit. 5. To make resplendent or illustrious: A smile illuminated her face. In medieval times an illuminated manuscript was intended to accomplish all these.  In 1998 the Saint John’s Abby and University in Minnesota commissioned the first handwritten illuminated Bible of its scale in more than 500 years.  The final page of the Saint John’s Bible was presented to the Abby and University in 2011.  Its creation involved six calligraphers and six artists directed by Donald Jackson, Senior Scribe to the Queen of England.  The artists and calligraphers used tools and media similar to those used in medieval times—more than 300 calf skins, feather quills, handmade inks and gold and silver leaf.  High quality reproductions have been bound in seven volumes. I luckily discovered that the Epiphany Parish in Seattle has full-size (2 ft. tall by 3 ft. wide ), high quality reproductions of two volumes that are available to view from now through Labor Day weekend. They are the same size as the original.   The curator Julie Moberly is excited to invite us to come and view the volumes.  She generously gave permission for me to photograph thereproduction pages and to use them on our blog.  She says that the volumes are on view most days in the Christie House Library.  If not, the secretary is always happy to get them out. The illuminations illustrate stories and play with lettering in many different ways.  Artistry is apparent on every page.  Careful thought has been given about the meaning of the text and the content and placement of the illuminations.  The colors are deep and vibrant.  Gold leaf gleams from the pages.  You will need an hour for a quick view and longer if want time to contemplate or draw and make notes.  It is worth a visit! Here is a link to the Epiphany Parish website. here’s a utube link to The Saint John’s Bible Project

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann Darling permalink
    July 5, 2014 1:26 am

    And our very own Northwest artist Suzanne Moore, from Vashon Island, was one of the artists! We had some of this stunning work at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2008 where many, many people were able to visit. It is worth a visit for sure … it is stunning work.

    • Mical Middaugh permalink
      July 5, 2014 2:47 am

      There are 6 of us who will be having a workshop (our third) with Suzanne this coming week. The illustration with ‘Choose Life’ is one of Suzanne’s.

      • July 5, 2014 2:50 am

        Mical, Thank you for letting us know that the Choose Life page was done by Suzanne Moore. Gail

  2. Chris O permalink
    July 5, 2014 1:59 am

    Thank you so much for,this. i’ve spent the last hour or so looking at the shorter YouTube videos, and will go,back for more. How beautiful and inspiring.

    Chris Okawara
    Sent from my iPad


  3. July 5, 2014 2:03 am

    Thanks for mentioning Suzanne Moore. She is apparently one of 2 American artists to participate in this project. Gail

  4. Christine Okawara permalink
    July 5, 2014 2:05 am

    Thank you, Penny & Gail for bringing this to our attention. What a pity I live so far away; I’m going to see if any of the 299 reproductions are out east? Have spent an hour looking at the YouTube videos and will go back for more. An admirable and inspiring mission to be a part of… Just beautiful! ChrisO in Toronto

  5. Karie Amstutz permalink
    July 5, 2014 9:08 pm

    I was able to see the Illuminated Manuscript at St John’s University a few years ago. The curator took us into the back room and with gloved hands pulled out one of the commissioned books to let us page through it. It was inspirational on several levels!

  6. Mical Middaugh permalink
    July 13, 2014 5:08 am

    Just returned from Vashon and were shown the pieces which Suzanne had done. One of the full size reproductions (done on specially made vellum) had been disassembled and the pages which each illustrator did was given to them. Even tho this is a reproduction, it is so extremely well done it is difficult to believe it is not the original. The original is all done on parchment. The page with gold arches is also Suzanne’s.

  7. July 13, 2014 6:00 am

    Thanks for letting us know about the gold arches page. What a treat it must have been for you to see them. Gail

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