ZEN AND THE ART OF KNOTS
Celtic knotwork has fascinated me for over 30 years now. It has always been drawn, painted, etched and carved etc., so I set myself a completely new challenge to tie the longest Celtic knot I could. And to my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done before. Although this type of knotwork is labelled Celtic, it really has roots in all cultures around the world.
“House Of Ancestors” is tied around a handmade wrought iron frame into one single parallel knot using 785 ft (240 m) of 1/4” (6 mm) cotton rope with no joins. The overall size is 48” (122 cm) wide by 72” (184 cm) tall. It crosses itself approximately 2,200 times and starts and finishes at the bottom in monkey fists.
But the most interesting thing about the whole process (that I realised after a few months) was that it mimics real life. Everybody is unique – the decisions you make from day one always have a consequence later on, so when you turn left, right or go straight on, when eventually you come back to that point you will have to deal with that former decision and deal with it. So every hanging is different. In something this large you have 2,200 decisions, so the permutations are endless.
When you start you’re tying in ‘mid air’ it is very easy to make a mistake at this stage. If you either go under or over the wrong way, or turn at the wrong point, mistakes will probably only make themselves clear once you’ve completed most (or all) of the panel – after a very long time, so concentration is zen-like – for months!!! Also, handling all that rope is a logistical nightmare – it always wants to twist and pull everything out of shape.