A chance encounter with a reproduction of the 'Book of Kell' in a secondhand bookshop captured my interest in illuminated manuscript. I discovered that vellum is still available from just one company William Cowley Ltd who still produce the vellum used in 'Hansard' to record the proceeding of Parliament.
The painstaking work of medieval monks in producing manuscripts of exceptional beauty is truly inspiring done as it was in nothing more than natural daylight, or flickering candle light.
There has been a very steep learning curve in my getting to grips with painting on this special medium. Unlike the absorbent watercolour paper I have worked on for over 30 years, vellum is less absorbent and required patience when applying pigment. The process of gilding letters is very difficult and requires considerable skill to ensure the gold leaf neatly applied , or worse still on the studio floor. After struggling to use an artificial glue with which to bond the gold leaf to the vellum, I decided to do as the medieval monks did and use nature size glue which was easier to apply in fine detail.