Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie
Images courtesy of The George Bain Estate | Keith Wood Photography
Imagine having this bright, intricate Celtic-design bowl in your house: you would make it a centrepiece, wouldn’t you? If you had visited Celtic artist and educator George Bain’s house in Drumnadrochit in the 1940s, however, you may well have been dazzled by the many everyday household objects decorated in this style. Picture Bain family evenings in front of the fire as a hive of activity—George Bain painting bowls, sketching a key pattern and interlace design for a handbag for his wife, and his daughter Chirsty embroidering Celtic-design tablecloths, curtains and hooking rugs. This bowl, and the other household objects in the George Bain Collection, show the Bain family living George Bain’s philosophy that everyone could benefit from learning how to create craftwork designs in the Insular style popular in early medieval Britain and Ireland.
The outside of the bowl is decorated with a border of birds with interlaced necks—popular in Insular illuminated manuscripts including the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels. Meanwhile the inside features a complicated red and gold interlace “Celtic knot”—Bain’s take on a motif common on Pictish stones from the Highland region—on a deep, rich, blue background. George Bain hoped that his educational book Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction would allow all of us to create beautiful objects like this bowl, but I suspect that most of us would need quite a bit of practice to paint such a design, let alone on this tricky curved surface.
Location: Groam House Museum, High St, Rosemarkie, Fortrose IV10 8UF