Orkney’s beautiful landscape and it’s fascinating history and archaeology have been a great source of inspiration for my designs. Patterns from Pictish and Celtic stone carvings found in Scotland and ancient manuscripts also feature in my range of designs.
The Westray Stone was my very first design and is still available today. The Westray Stone is an ornate spiral carving from a Neolithic stone tomb, which was re-discovered in 1981 at Pierowall Quarry in Westray. It is now exhibited at the heritage centre in Pierowall.
I became further inspired by various Pictish and Celtic stone carvings found in Scotland and incorporated these into my own designs.
The Aberlemno Sculptured Stones, a series of standing stones with Pictish carvings found in the village of Aberlemno, Angus has been a great influence on my work. The Aberlemno 2 cross-slab, featuring a Celtic cross inscribed with knotwork and keywork designs influenced my Celtic Spiral design, which is based on the central spiral of the cross.
Pictish Key patterns are found on many stone carvings and manuscripts. Stone carvings found in Scotland include the Aberlemno Stone, Rosemarkie cross-slab, Hilton of Cadboll Stone and Nigg Stone. These Pictish Key patterns can also be found in the Books of Durrow, Kells and Lindisfarne.
Continuing with the Pictish theme I set to work experimenting with Ogham text. Ogham is an early medieval alphabet used to write Old Irish. This is the earliest known text to be discovered in Orkney, an example of which was found inscribed on a spindle-whorl following an excavation at Buckquoy, Birsay in 1970.
‘Viking’ is inspired by the Scar Dragon Plaque, which was discovered during the excavation of a Viking boat burial at Scar, on the island of Sanday in 1991. The plaque is suggested to have been used as a type of ironing board for the smoothing of linens. It has been skillfully carved from a piece of whalebone, featuring two dragon heads facing each other, decorated with dotted circles and a geometric pattern around the edge of the plaque which I have incorporated into my design.
The burial was dated to between 875 AD and 950 AD and analysis of sand samples found at the site suggests the boat and the people buried in it may have originated from Norway, where similar plaques have been discovered in other wealthy female graves.