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preface v1.02
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index v1.02


The Celtic Art Coracle Volume 1 Issue 2 preface
Illustrated Magazine of Celtic Art and Calligraphy, 

Preface, Volume 1 Issue 2  February 1983 

This issue was originally hand-printed on an old Gestetner printer, and hand-sewn into single signatures with a lot of help from Annie Wildwood, who  also contributed the  cover design for the Coracle Magazine vol. 1 no.3.  Thanks also to the other contributors to this issue, the late Professor Robert O'Driscoll, and Patrick Lohan, also sadly missed, for his review of Janet Backhouse's Lindisfarne Gospels,  Janet Nielsen, who reviewed the Little Black and White Book, and special thanks to Rebecca Gilbert, who contributed a poem and her inspiring note on becoming a Celtic artist,  the Gift of Joy, as well as a beautifully-drawn carpet page design (see pages 2326, 27). 

The cover design
for this issue is not a traditional design. I did it for the feast day of Saint Briget, February 2nd,  the legendary Irish saint who lit a flame that burned for centuries before the altar  in the Abbey that she founded in Kildare. Her feast day supplanted the older spring festival of the Ewes, Imbolc,  the beginning of spring for the pastoral Irish people.  

A cross woven of rushes is Briget's special symbol, and so I worked the shape of her cross - which is shaped like a windmill, with long triangles based on a square. Instead of rushes, though, I wove four birds with flame bodies, because fire is a recurring motif in the legends of Saint Briget.

In the article America BC, I included an article about Professor Barry Fell, in which I referred to his book America BC. His theory of transatlantic contact between the ancient Celt-Iberians and America intrigued me at the time, because I was looking for connections between Celtic patterns and similar designs found in North America. But I have since concluded that coincidence is the most likely explanation of his findings. The general opinion is that he simply read ogham into random marks, such as might have been made by a plough dragging over the stone. 

The issue is this, are such correspondences evidence of contact - the theory of diffusion - or of an independent origin, in other words, coincidence. The diffusionist looks at a pagoda in London's Hyde park, and concludes that someone from China brought the model to England, for instance. Alternatively, the form of the Pagoda, which is essentially a tower, is found all over the world, and it is easy to see how a tower made in one part could take on the form of a pagoda quite independently. 

There is a third viewpoint, that some forms are archetypal,  such as the geometric symbols that appear everywhere, spirals, maze and knot patterns, for instance.  But it seems to me that the safest bet, unless coincidence can be definitely ruled out, is to consider that to be the likeliest explanation, rather than resort to unreasonable scenarios to explain how such correspondences could have happened by direct contact and transmission. 

Index of Contents v1.02

Artwork Aidan Meehan 1983

The Celtic Art Coracle Vol 1
Contents Coracle Press 1983
ISSN 0828-8321 
All Rights Reserved

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