Contemporary manuscript illuminators have the freedom to conflate imagery and concepts which span multiple centuries and cultures. Researching themes and images appropriate to a commission is one of my favorite things to do. You can call it my personal journey.
Take this piece, a present created for someone who is cantor and just received her doctorate in music, for example. The sanctus, sung by Christians during mass for over a thousand years, has gilded cantillation, one of the earliest forms of music notation. Each shape corresponds to a note. The vertical stoke is A. To add interest for music scholars, the notated tune is Schubert's Sanctus, one of my personal favorites.
As a soloist and manuscript illuminator, I am rooted in the history of liturgical arts. Mastering them has been my pilgrim's journey. St. Augustine's Sermon 256 has been a personal guidepost for many with its invitation to sing as we journey to make our journey lighter. Psalm 96 also incites all to sing unto the Lord. Written in the original Hebrew and English, it is adorned with pilgrim's badges.
In the middle ages these metal badges were given to pilgrims who had journeyed to sacred sites as a religious undertaking. The pilgrims attached them to their hats as an outward sign of their penance. St James Scallop, from Compostella is at the top while the Canterbury cross and the Jerusalem cross flank the sides.
The main illumination employs the medieval hand of God coming out of the clouds at the top with the very 20th century image of earth as a big blue marble, seen from space. The geographic region depicted is the middle east, India, Saudi Arabia and part of the near east. Even the cloud patterns are taken from images that show how global warming has changed cloud formations in the planet. God's hand holds a gently undulating scroll, a medieval short hand that the words on the scroll are audio, they are heard, not read as written text.
In this case the scroll's text, written in Hebrew, "peace on earth good will to all people, peace," was sung by a choir of angels. For me this suggests that music and song are gifts from the God of Abraham and Sarah. It was written in Hebrew to prevent the image from looking like a greeting card. And the energetically painted deep space evokes the aliveness of the energy between God and human, a sacred pregnant space alive with all possibilities.
The paints were all made using medieval texhniques and the gold is a high caratgenuine gold leaf. The white metal is white gold leaf.