The Pigsty Studio

In the Spotlight for December - THE MABINOGION

The Mabinogion is a collection of Medieval tales written in Welsh telling the amazing adventures of heroic characters that have enthralled people over the whole of Europe for many centuries. The eleven stories are taken from 'The Red Book of Hergest' and 'The White Book of Rhydderch'. Their importance as records of early myths, legends, folklore, culture, and the language of Wales is immense.

I was born just a stone's throw from Hergest Court, a medieval manor house on the Welsh border where 'The Red Book of Hergest' was housed for many years. Consequently, I was eager to produce this highly illuminated piece of work. It focuses on 'The Oldest Animals in the World'; the story of Culhwch and Olwen. The elaborate illumination depicts knotwork of mythical and magical creatures, enhanced by the use of gold leaf, and the text scribed in uncial. These are all typical styles and methods used in the medieval period. In the story, the hero Culhwch has to be successful in a series of quests before he is allowed to marry Olwen, his sweetheart. Each paragraph begins with a medieval representation of the animals he asks advice from during these tasks, while the final paragraph shows Culhwch and Olwen happily together concluding the story.  

The book has been widely influential, giving rise to timeless literary figures such as Arthur and Merlin, and providing the basis of much European and world literature. The fantasy fiction genre, so popular today, was practically unknown before its publication.
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