artist: donald jackson with contribution by chris tomlin
this opening illumination to the book of genesis is a diagrammatic, explicitly setting out each of the steps in the creation of the world. starting with symbolic fractals which imply that even chaotic brush marks and the exploding telescropic views of the cosmos have within them a structure of god's making. the hebrew phrase, tohu wa-bohu (gen 1:1)
which means formless and void is part of the representation of this first day.
gold is used throughout to symbolize god's intervention in the chaos and his ordering of the universe and its elements; hence the gold squares are applied geometrically, starting with day one and expanding progressively outwards and upwards in influence until reaching the serenity and simplicity of the sabbath.
day four refers to the sun and moon, with the implication of movement. day five demonstrates the teeming mass of life within the oceans and birds in the sky. notice the subtle presence of the snake.
day six is the first sign of mankind upon earth and here donald has drawn from early cave paintings in nigeria. the figures at the bottom of the panel are men and women. the figure of the hunter holding a bow is a woman, set against a background of a volcanic eruption which emphasizes the dangerous and volatile nature of our earthly existence. day seven is given over entirely to the contemplation of the spirit.
a vast illuminated manuscript, the saint john's bible, has been commissioned by saint john's university in collegeville, minnesota, from the contemporary scribe and illuminator, donald jackson. mr. jackson works in the scriptorium in wales, where he handwrites the bible and creates illuminations in a unique collaboration with other artists and scribes.
creation, donald jackson with contribution by chris tomlin, copyright 2003, the saint john's bible, order of saint benedict, collegeville, minnesota, usa.
people of all ages enjoy looking at the pages of the fine art version of the saint john's bible.
sally mae joseph applies gesso over a frisket stencil in preparation for the gilding of the small squares and rectangles which appear throughout the book of psalms. once the gesso has dried and the gold has been laid and burnished, the frisket is pulled away, leaving perfectly sharp edges. this new technique gives sally tremendous control gilding the geometric shapes.