Kelly Houle is this website’s Official Artist and Calligrapher™, and, as you know if you’re a regular, she’s producing an illuminated version of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a project that will contain the entire book in Kelly’s marvelous calligraphy and splendid art. It will take her at least five years, and you’ll know why when you’ve seen the first two pages below. (I also find it deliciously ironic that at last illumination is being applied to something true rather than goddy fiction.)
Many of us have supported Kelly’s Illuminated Origin project, bringing her more than $13,000 above her initial Kickstarter goal of $3,000, and you can further support this worthy endeavor by buying some of her artwork (I have six of the beetle prints, which are beautiful, and I also recommend the gold-embossed greeting cards), or by making a direct donation.
I’m writing to report that, after doing a lot of preliminary research, Kelly has started producing the final copy. I’ll show two pages of what will eventually be a huge book. Kelly wrote to me yesterday from Berkeley, California (email and artwork reproduced with permission, indented text is Kelly’s; click photos to enlarge, as they’re very high-resolution):
Hi Jerry,I’m reporting to you live from the Codex International Book Fair (www.codexfoundation.org). I will be here today and tomorrow exhibiting the title page and frontispiece of the manuscript.On the frontispiece (left) the Beagle sails into the distance with simplified circular tree of life above. I wrote the species names on the tree of life by hand, and a metal stamp was made from my hand-lettering. The tree was then hot foil stamped onto the background. The spiral pattern in the sky is based on the Parker Spiral, which describes the pattern of magnetic rays formed by the spinning of the sun.
The title page (right) shows a sunset scene with pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea), a ruby throated hummingbird, and an unfortunate fly. The pitchers were painted from photographs by Dr. Barry Rice at UC Davis.
Ben Goren has made a high-fidelity digital capture of the frontispiece and will be making a limited edition print (30 copies) of both pages, which will be signed, numbered, and illuminated with a combination of foil stamping and hand-gilding. These will available soon at www.illuminatedorigin.com.Happy Darwin Day!Kelly