The Red Book of Ossory


Designed by Gareth Jones at Gareth Jones

Art Direction (with Gareth Jones): Eric Fraad

Categories: CD / Vinyl / Cassette

Industry: Cultural

Tags: Music / Packaging / Culture / Album

This is a collection of Irish poems from the 14th-century manuscript The Red Book of Ossory, set to medieval music, and performed by Anakronos, a stellar band of early music, jazz, and contemporary classical virtuosi. 

Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory composed the poems for the priests ­­and choristers of St. Canice’s Cathedral with the intention that they be sung to melodies of the day. He was also responsible for the death of Petronilla de Meath, the first person in history to be burnt at the stake, for the heresy of witchcraft.

The design focuses on the interplay between past and the present, juxtaposing typefaces; a 14th-century Blackletter and a modern sans serif. This is about reconstructing something old — ancient music from a modern perspective. Secondary type utilises artist Fiona Banner’s typeface ‘Font’, itself an amalgamation of several typefaces that make it unpredictable and difficult to categorise. 

The bishop instructed that the singers ‘provide themselves with suitable tunes according to what these sets of words require’, so the circular stave on the disc is left empty — a blank musical canvas.

The intent is to revel in this layering of history. A composition of imagery that deconstructs, and disregards. To visualise ideas of interpretation – to celebrate heretical thinking.