Coloured glass jars to celebrate the Gospels

An artists' impression of how the Carpet installation will look in the grounds of Lindisfarne Priory.
An artists' impression of how the Carpet installation will look in the grounds of Lindisfarne Priory.

A glass jar filled with water coloured with ink may not sound that impressive, but times it by 30,000 and you’re left with a spectacular outdoor artwork.

The Gospels on the Grass installation entitled Carpet, by environmental artist Steve Messam, will be a 100 sq m visual spectacle in the grounds of Lindisfarne Priory from June 28 to July 7.

It is part of the Festival of the North East finale weekend and a summer of Gospels-themed celebrations on Holy Island, as the medieval manuscript returns to Durham.

Northern artist Steve works primarily outside the gallery environment, creating site-specific installations in rural or urban settings, often specialising in historical relics and vacant architecture that helps people perceive the familiar environment in a new way.

For the Gospels on the Grass installation he will create an Anglo-Saxon style carpet pattern in the grounds of the Priory.

The piece recalls the importance of colour in seventh-century Britain, replicating the colour and designs featured in the famous manuscript.

Steve said: “I love to work in historic spaces to create extraordinary pieces and creating a new interpretation of the Lindisfarne Gospels in what is essentially its birthplace is very exciting and a real honour.

“The elaborately patterned pages in the Lindisfarne Gospels which preceded each of the four gospels are known as Carpet Pages.

“Their geometric designs are a blend of Celtic, Pictish, Germanic and middle-Eastern styles.

“This blend reflects the cosmopolitan society within the Priory at the time.

“Today’s Carpet artwork is made from the same palette of seven colours used in the Gospels: Red, yellow, blue, green, purple, black and white.

“My design is made using the same geometric techniques used in the manuscripts using dividers and compasses.”

The installation will start to take shape from Monday, June 24, when 30,000 glass jars of water coloured with ink will start to be arranged on the grass in patterns.