International Day of Celtic Art by Stephen Walker

June 9th has been designated as International Celtic Art Day. The announcement comes from a group of contemporary Celtic artists, scholars, traders and Celtic Art lovers that have been exchanging ideas on the internet since June 9, 2000. The members of this group include many of the leaders of the current Renaissance of Celtic art including Michael Carroll, Hamish Burgess, Ruth Black and Vitor Gonzales.

 My studio, Walker Metalsmiths in Andover, NY, will be hosting an open house reception on Friday June 9, 2017 from 5 to 8 PM. Everyday is Celtic Art Day at our studio, but on this occasion we will highlight the truly international artwork, crafts and jewelry that we carry from Celtic artists in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and even Italy.

 The choice of the ninth of June to celebrate Celtic Art seems almost obvious. The Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, great medieval masterpieces of Celtic art, are associated with the great Celtic spiritual leader Columcille. June 9th is his feast day.

 Columcille is also an excellent example of the international nature of Celtic art. In the year 563 AD he left Ireland over a controversy regarding the copying of a book and took up residence on the Scottish Isle of Iona. From there he travelled to Pictland, in Northeastern Scotland. His followers established a network of communities expanded far beyond these areas in the generations that followed. The style of Celtic art that spread across Northern Europe from the 6th to the 10th centuries followed the network of contacts began by Columcille.

 That forum, which was originally a Yahoo Group, was moved to Facebook several years ago. Philadelphia based designer and digital artist Ed Rooney recently began a discussion of the concept of “authenticity” on the forum. While the public tends to think of modern Celtic art as something copied from the past, the creativity and original designs that come from the imaginations of today’s Celtic artists shows that the style is constantly evolving.

 Pat Fish, Celtic tattoo artist from California, was quick to point out that not only does June 9 fall on a Friday in 2017, it is also a full moon, the “Moon of Horses”. It is hoped that June 9 will become an annual occasion for celebrating Celtic art both ancient and modern.

Fiber artist Ruth Black of Inverness was an early supporter of the concept and is excited about promoting the celebration in Scotland. The first actual event to be scheduled for International Celtic Art Day is an Open Studio exhibit by artist Angelique Moorman in the Netherlands. The concept has also had support expressed from forum members in Spain, Canada, Ireland, and Austrailia.