Thursday, July 01, 2010


Over the past year or two, I have had conversations on and off with a few liturgical artisans about the possibility of creating some original designs for altar cards.

One reason is that altar cards seem like a practical and affordable place for a parish to either consider commissioning some original liturgical art, or it may provide a good window of opportunity for a liturgical artisan to contribute something new to the scene so to speak -- and here I am not excluding the possibility of creating some original design and then producing a run of them in the form of high quality prints, or employing a base design that can then be tailored in some fashion.

The second reason is that, at present, many of the altar cards that we see and have access too are all of a rather similar 19th century style and it would be very nice to see an influx of new artistic life in this area -- just as it is pleasing when we see new and updated editions of old books released, original vestments commissioned, and so on.

What drew out this consideration today was this illustration recently executed by Daniel Mitsui:

When I saw the design, which incorporates the first part of the Ave Maria, I was put to mind of the two smaller altar cards put on either side of the larger central card, both for reason of the proportions of the above design and also for reason of the bordering with the text inside -- which has a similar look and feel to those altar cards of course. I can rather imagine a very similar sort of design being applied to an altar card design, tailored of course to the nature and the content of the altar cards.

It seems to me there are many design potentialities, from a design that borrows from the mediaeval or the renaissance, to one in an "Other Modern" vein (perhaps borrowing from the Art Nouveau or Art Deco movements), to those inspired by Saxonic or Celtic motifs as found in the like of the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow or Lindisfarne Gospels.

Parishes might also commission cards which are somehow tailored to their parish, perhaps in view of the patron saints of the parish, the diocese, and so forth.

I hope that by sharing these ideas, it might help inspire some of our readers to take them up.

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