2022 Pictish Arts Society Annual Conference Online

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Conference paper: 'Textile Makers from Early Medieval England and Pictish Artists: Shared Strategies for the Transmutation of Patterns'
Presented research from postdoctoral project, 'The Transmutation of Patterns and the Role of Women in Insular Art', funded by Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

Pictish artists frequently used a form of Insular ornament referred to here as the ‘transmutation of patterns’ (previously ‘interpenetration’, F. Henry 1967, I. Henderson 1982). Transmutation occurred when an artist altered the deep, geometric structure of at least two adjacent patterns (e.g. interlace, key pattern, spirals, and vine-scroll), so that the first pattern transformed strand by strand into the second. This paper presents current case studies from my postdoctoral project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship). It outlines Pictish and other Insular artists’ strategies for manipulating patterns’ internal structures to achieve transmutation, and how these distinguish transmutation from other fascinating but often geometrically simpler forms of hybridity also seen throughout the art of early medieval Ireland and Britain. Transmutation not only adorned sculpture, metalwork, and manuscripts, but also is found in surviving textiles, which were largely produced by women in the Insular period. By comparing Pictish metalwork and sculpture with a collection of contemporaneous silk and gold embroideries and tablet-woven bands from early medieval England, this paper investigates evidence that suggests that Pictish smiths and stone carvers and women textile makers in the Insular world may have shared ideas for creating this complex form of ornament.
Period1 Oct 20222 Oct 2022
Event typeConference