Like Hebrew and Islamic art, Celtic art was
originally non-representational. How to combine representational and
non-representational art remains a challenge to Celtic artists.
The difficulty lies in how to incorporate
naturalistic art into a pattern without subordinating the pattern to the narrative
picture. Here, we have to deal with a canon of art which was still alive in early Gothic
architecture, which subordinated representation to pattern, and subordinated pattern to
geometry and proportion.
The question for Celtic artists is now whether
abstract design can mean anything in itself - is it a symbolic language, full of objective
intelligibility, or just another way to decorate, like wall-paper?
The answer is that Celtic art is both a
practical means of decoration, and a means of harmonizing our surroundings in a visual
unity that both expresses and reinforces unity in society. It is a form language in
itself, Celtic art is intelligible - it is we who have lost the use of that ancient