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Katura Reynolds’ Chaucerian Calligraphy

Jul 26, 2015

MOGwindows-1Portland, Oregon-based artist Katura Reynolds was aiming for “something that felt like a sort of mad tea party, Huntington-style,” writes Christine Quach on The Huntington blog.

What Reynolds is alluding to is the art work she created for the front windows of the Maple Orientation Gallery.

Quach calls them “a snapshot of The Huntington’s library, art, and botanical collections.”

Objects as diverse as a cactus and a Tiffany lamp are partnered with a section of Allessandro Piccolomini’s 16th century Star Chart and each 12-foot-wide window had to be filled. Reynolds, who is used to working on a smaller scale and “specializes in science and nature drawings,” had the challenge of scaling up.

 

A preliminary “doodle” shows a celestial motif in the upper right-hand corner above the Mackmurdo chair. The final composition omitted the celestial motif and replaced it with quotes from Alessandro Piccolomini’s Star Chart (1540). (Source: The Huntington)

A preliminary “doodle” shows a celestial motif in the upper right-hand corner above the Mackmurdo chair. The final composition omitted the celestial motif and replaced it with quotes from Alessandro Piccolomini’s Star Chart (1540). (Source: The Huntington)

 

Initial doodles were created with a pen on a graphic tablet and using Photoshop. “Recreating the intricacies of quill-written text proved especially challenging” for Reynolds, Quach writes. Specific text from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales had to be redrawn, black and white copies of library materials had to be made, and Reynolds used—for the first time—an Excel spreadsheet “that calculated proportions for each item.”

 

A red-whiskered bulbul perched on an Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo 19th-century chair playfully juxtaposes the natural realm and man-made craftsmanship, a motif often favored by the Arts and Crafts Movement. (Source: The Huntington)

A red-whiskered bulbul perched on an Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo 19th-century chair playfully juxtaposes the natural realm and man-made craftsmanship, a motif often favored by the Arts and Crafts Movement. (Source: The Huntington)

 

Despite the challenges, the completed windows manage to encompass the diverse collections at The Huntington in subtle yet unexpected ways. For instance, Reynolds placed a red-whiskered bulbul on the edge of an Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo 19th-century chair, further accentuating the chair’s soft, natural lines. Reynolds worked with gallery designer Karina White to capture a certain mood for the design. “We both wanted it to have a playful feel while acknowledging the dignity and history of the content. I think it worked out really well,” said Reynolds.

The next time you visit The Huntington, be sure to check out the Mapel Orientation Gallery’s windows; they may inspire the itinerary for your next tour of the grounds. (“A Window into The Huntington,” by Christine Quach, HuntingtonBlogs.org)

 

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1150 Oxford Rd., San Marino 91108
Hours: Monday, Wednesday-Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays)
Admission cost is listed as weekdays/weekends:
Adults, $23/$25
Students/Seniors, $19/$21
Youth (4-11), $10 every day
Children under 4, free every day
For complete info, visit Huntington.org

 

“In the original, you can see the contrast between the red, the gold, and the blue, but when it shifted to black and white, all that became just a dark blob,” explains Katura Reynolds, describing the challenge of transferring the 600-year-old illuminated manuscript to window stencils. Left: Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343–1402), The Prioress’s Tale, from the Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales, England, ca. 1400–1405. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Right: detail of the prioress in the Mapel Orientation Gallery window. (Source: The Huntington)

“In the original, you can see the contrast between the red, the gold, and the blue, but when it shifted to black and white, all that became just a dark blob,” explains Katura Reynolds, describing the challenge of transferring the 600-year-old illuminated manuscript to window stencils. Left: Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343–1402), The Prioress’s Tale, from the Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales, England, ca. 1400–1405. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Right: detail of the prioress in the Mapel Orientation Gallery window. (Source: The Huntington)

 

For more on Katura Reynolds, check out her blog: Katura-art.com and her Twitter feed.

Reynolds’ biography as found on GNSI.science-art.com/2011WA:

Katura has done freelance science illustration for 15 years, and is starting to see a pattern of botany and fossil mammals emerge in her subject matter. She primarily works in watercolor, pen & ink, and Photoshop. Her illustrations have appeared in various scientific journals, museum exhibits, newspapers, and magazines.  She worked on the award-winning “Plants are Up to Something” exhibit at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, and has had a soft spot for carnivorous plants ever since. Katura holds down a day job at Mount Pisgah Arboretum in Eugene, Oregon. You may see her work online at Katura-art.com.

 

katura_reynolds

Katura Reynolds




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