February 2011 issue of The Saint John's Bible eNewsletter. Are images missing? View the online version.
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A project the size and scale of The Saint John’s Bible would be difficult to complete in a lifetime without a team of able and talented artists and calligraphers. Last year, we featured Diane von Arx and Thomas Ingmire in our September enewsletter. This month we highlight the artist responsible for the intricate insects and animals that can be found throughout The Saint John’s Bible, Chris Tomlin. Curious about other members of the team? Click here to read more on our website.

Chris Tomlin, Natural History Artist

As you turn the pages of The Saint John’s Bible your eyes will be drawn to page after page of beautifully executed and stately columns of text; they will rest upon stunning illuminations inviting you to stop and ponder the meaning of the passages in new ways. Your eyes will also be surprised now and then to find a tiny critter, a crawling bug or an expanding butterfly landing on a thistle resting in the margins of the pages.

These delightful natural history elements are all the work of artist Chris Tomlin, a specialist in botanical and nature illustration. Based in the UK, Chris’ work has taken him throughout the globe to capture subjects as varying as endangered species in Madagascar to the flora and fauna of central Minnesota, the latter gracing the pages of The Saint John’s Bible. At an early age, Chris showed a strong interest in the natural world and in painting and drawing. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in London with a Master’s Degree in Visual Communications, his career has allowed him to merge these two interests and work for clients such as Marks and Spencer, the famed UK retailer; Oxford University Press and the National Trust.

Donald Jackson and Chris Tomlin working together at the Scriptorium.


With a keen eye and a skill for impeccable detail, Chris’ masterful illustrations have been the perfect complement to the pages of The Saint John’s Bible. His marginalia, Latin for “things in the margin,” often catch guests by surprise causing expressions of wonder at the lifelike qualities of paintings; some guests have even thought real butterflies had landed on the pages. Many of the small paintings feature plant and animals native to the lands surrounding Saint John’s or to the Welsh countryside near the scriptorium. These details will forever tie the book to its two homes: Wales and Minnesota. However, not all of the “critters” come from these two locations. In the newest volume, Historical Books, Chris has included natural history elements from around the world, many in states of destruction or attack, indicative of the passages they accompany in the text. Along with his independent work in the margins, Chris has also collaborated with Donald Jackson on such major illuminations in The Saint John’s Bible as Creation, Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve.

Leafcutter Ants by Chris Tomlin copyright The Saint John’s Bible, 2010.
Can be found in Historical Books, 1 Chronicles.


Chris just recently completed a week of work at the Scriptorium where he worked on his final commissions for the project, the plants and animals that will adorn the pages of the last volume, Letters and Revelation. At this point, only the team in Wales knows what those creatures look like, but like all of his other work on the project, those critters are sure to be a delight for the eye and soul. To learn more about the work of Chris Tomlin, visit www.christomlindesign.com.

In This Issue

• Chris Tomlin, Natural History Artist

• Upcoming Exhibitions & Events

See the Bible

Print Exhibitions

Carroll Art Gallery at Carroll College
Helena, MT
January 10 - March 1, 2011

Central Presbyterian Church
Atlanta, GA
January 23 - March 3, 2011

University of Saint Francis
School of Creative Arts
Fort Wayne, IN
February 28 - April 3, 2011


Find a gallery near you >



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Contact:The Saint John's Bible, Liturgical Press, Saint John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.654.0476 or 320.363.2213

© Copyright 2011, Order of Saint Benedict, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. All rights reserved.