Dream Job

Do you have a vision for your art?

A Heritage Edition of the The Saint John’s Bible now resides at Regis College.

Affiliated with the University of Toronto, Regis College is a theological school located on Wellesley Street West in downtown Toronto. On my way home from work, I would pop into the lobby for a peek. Protected under glass, a two-page spread is displayed at a time. Sometimes there are two pages of pure calligraphy, but other times there is a gorgeous illuminated spread, gleaming with gold.

Several years ago, members of the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto were invited for a closer examination of all seven volumes. While we were not permitted to thumb through the volumes on our own (not even a remote possibility), volunteers turned pages so we could peer closely at the lettering and breathtaking illuminations. It was hard not to drool!

Heritage Edition of The Saint John's Bible, 7 volumes on display at Regis College

Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, 7 volumes on display at Regis College

The Saint John’s Bible is the first hand-written, illuminated Bible to be produced since the Gutenberg press began printing the scriptures in 1455.

Have you ever had a dream? A big dream?

In Wales, just after the Second World War, school boy Donald Jackson dreamed of writing the entire Bible by hand.

In 1995, he took a step closer to his dream—a leap of faith actually. He pitched the feasibility of such a project to the trustees at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The project got off the ground several years later in 1998. The last word, applied to parchment using a quill, was penned in 2011.

As Artistic Director and Illuminator, Donald anchored the project from his scriptorium in Wales while guiding his international team of calligraphers, illustrators, and administrators.

Page from Heritage Edition of Saint John's Bible featuring the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)

Page from Heritage Edition of Saint John’s Bible featuring the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)

The original Saint John’s Bible is housed at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, but close to 300 sets of the 7-volume Heritage Edition were printed for a broader audience to enjoy. To date, approximately 125 sets have been claimed.

One set was on full display at Seattletters 2018, the international calligraphy conference in Bellingham, Washington, where over 400 participants could leisurely browse the full Bible and ask questions.

Page from Heritage Edition of Saint John's Bible

Page from Heritage Edition of Saint John’s Bible

It was my pleasure to catch up with Donald at Seattletters 2018. He and I were students in Suzanne Moore’s class. Now retired at 80, he spoke about the realization of his childhood dream to produce a handwritten legacy of the scriptures.

The other dream, which he also realized, was to be a scribe to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

Do you have a dream—or two—for your art?

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