|"Pictish Nation" c. 2003 F. Lennox Campello Charcoal on Paper 15x41 inches|
In a private collection in New York City
"This legion, which curbs the savage Scot and studies the designs marked with iron on the face of the dying Pict," are the written words of the Roman poet Claudian that give the only insight as to the name given by Rome to the untamed Britannic tribes living North of Hadrian's Walls and one of history's nearly forgotten Dark Ages people: The Picts.
Perhaps the greatest mystery of Scottish or even European history is the people who once inhabited the lands north of Roman England, as far north as the Shetlands. Who were these fiercely independent people? Where did the come from? Which language did they speak? What did they call themselves? We first hear of them in the third century from a Roman writer in Spain, who describes their fierceness and battle skills of both men and women. The writer Eumenius, writes about them 200 years after Rome has been in Britain, and the name associated with the Pict is forever coined. To this day, we do not know if this is truly as in "pictus" (the Latin for "painted") or a Latin form of a native name. Because of the isolation of northern Scotland, history yields little, and the Roman Empire's expeditions into the north ended in little gains.
"We, the most distant dwellers upon the earth, the last of the free, have been shielded...by our remoteness and by the obscurity which has shrouded our name...Beyond us lies no nation, nothing but waves and rocks"...The above words by the Pictish chief Calgacus are recorded by the Roman enemy in the words of Tacitus and are a perfect example of the obscurity and legendary status held by the Picts almost 2,000 years ago.
In "Pictish Nation," I married my interest in history (I am one of the world's earliest and leading Pictologists) with art. The show consisted of two dozen charcoal drawings that interpreted and delivered my vision of how Pictish men and women, and their tattooed bodies, may have appeared.
Borrowing from the designs in the unique Pictish standing stones that dot the Scottish countryside, I re-created, for the first time in nearly 1200 years (The Picts ceased to exist as an independent people in 845 AD, when Kenneth MacAlpin, Scottish by father and Pictish by Mother, usurped the throne of the Picts and Scots and proceeded to erase all traces of Pictish culture from Scotland), the unique Pictish designs of animals, objects and imaginary beasts.
Most of the show sold, and it completely sold out over the years, except for the key central piece (Pictish Nation depicted above). I kept this work for my own, and in 2004 I had Old Town Editions in Alexandria do a small Gyclee edition of 10 reproductions of the work - all of which also sold.
Last year I decided to sell the drawing.
It has now found a home with a well-known collector in New York.