09 July 2007


Sorry for the long hiatus again. I've had my siblings visiting for the past week or so and am only just getting caught up on some of my regular computer stuff, etc.

In spite of some very big disagreements about artistic influence that my comments over on Paul Butzi's blog stirred up a while back, I'm going to engage in a bit of playful speculation again here. I know there's no way to prove it, but I enjoy this sort of musing. Besides, there are no Celts around anymore to complain about artists getting ideas from them.

I went to Scotland back in 2004 and spent some time towards the end of my trip on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (actually off the coast of England, near the border with Scotland). There I photographed both this Celtic cross (a grave marker in an old cemetery) and this loopy pile of some sort of worm excrement on the wet sand (taken while the tide was out). I formulated a theory back then. You may well ask me what is my theory. This theory of mine, which is my theory, is as follows: The loopy Celtic knot designs were inspired by worm loops which the Celts saw while they were walking along the beaches. A further confirmation of this theory is that I later came across an interesting phrase in Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf: In line 1532, Beowulf's sword is referred to as "keen, inlaid, worm-loop-patterned steel." Of course the sword must have been inlaid with a Celtic knot design which was patterned after worm loops.

I corresponded with a Dr Jane Lancaster, Implementation Officer at the Berwickshire and North Northumberland European Marine Site (I found her email address on a website related to marine life near the Holy Island of Lindisfarne). She was able to tell me all I ever wanted to know about the worms that make those loops. They are lugworms (Arenicola marina), and these "loops" are their casts. She was intrigued by my question about the connection with Celtic knots, so she asked some archaelogist colleagues of hers, but I never heard back from her what they thought about it. She thinks Celtic knots had nothing to do with lugworm casts, but were inspired by vines, because the Celts lived mostly inland. I still like my theory better. Maybe I can get a research grant to study it sometime and go back to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Inspired by that whole episode, and looking for a new artform to learn for my final project for the Christian Imagination class at Regent, I took up wood carving (you've seen my dolphin carving already if you've been following this blog for a while) and designed this Celtic knot pattern which I then carved into a block of bassword.

Now if my theory is correct, I've just traced the path of artistic inspiration through two generations. What might my Celtic knot carving inspire, I wonder?


فهیم said...

you did a good job!
I like your photos about these designs.

Christine said...

Wow. your creativity and talent know no bounds! That carving is great.

I vote for the lugworms theory. It looks pretty dang uncanny in likeness. Besides, where else would we get "lugknots"??


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