An art installation of 30,000 glass jars filled with water coloured with ink will help recreate the vibrancy and fusion of colour from the time of the Lindisfarne Gospels at Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island later this month.

The Gospels on the Grass installation entitled ‘Carpet’ by environmental artist Steve Messam, will be a 100 sq metre visual spectacle in the priory grounds from 28 June – 7 July. It is part of the Festival of the North East finale weekend and a summer of Gospels themed celebrations on Holy Island.

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 7th 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 24 June when 30,000 glass jars of water coloured with ink will start to be arranged on the grass in patterns taken from the Lindisfarne Gospels. Measuring over 100 sq metres, the intensity of the colour will transform the lower end of the Priory and will become particularly magical in sunlight.

On Wednesday 26 & Thursday 27 June there is opportunity to assist in the creation of this work. A limited number of public participants can help Steve place the jars in either of two sessions each day. Sessions run at 10am – 12pm & 2pm – 4pm. Places are limited so booking is essential. Contact Lindisfarne Priory on 01289 389200.

Gospels on the Grass has been made possible with the support of Arts Council England.
The event and display will kick-start the North East’s Lindisfarne Gospels celebrations as the region prepares to welcome Britain's most significant medieval manuscripts to Durham from 1 July to 30 September 2013. Admission to Lindisfarne Priory costs: £5.20 for adults, £4.70 for concessions and £3.10 for children. For more information about Lindisfarne Priory, visit> or call 01289 389200.