Recent Editions: 2015
Winter: Celestial Mountain
Helen Douglas, Winter: Celestial Mountain, 2015. Folio 18.5cm x 24.5 cm, containing 12 folded leaves 17cm x23cm with single or twinned roundels printed on Chinese Paper, ultra chrome inks. Including end papers of 150gsm paper embossed. Card folio cover with title embossed, silk ribbon fastening. Edition:25. £100.
Frost patterns grow in fractal increments, their fine etched intricacy conjuring a world of ice flowerings, plants, thorn forests, rocks, and mountain heavens. Printed on fine Xuan paper the fragility of the image is merged with the transparency of the paper. A progression from tonal greys to deep night darks and the blue of dawning gives some sense of narrative sequence, while the framing roundel presents these images as themselves (the here) and as remote landscape world of the imagination (the there).
Dark CloudHelen Douglas, Dark Cloud, 2015. 10.5cm x 25cm, containing 6 folded leaves (24pp), printed on Toshu paper with ultra chrome inks. Hand stitched, card cover, blue fasting paper band. Edition 30. Price £25.
In the Lee of Yarrow
MIDSUMMER, Harewood Glen
HAND PRINTED EDITIONS 2006-2016
These digital Hand Printed publications by Helen Douglas were begun in 2006 and contribute another dimension to her work in book. New editions were made between 2010-2012 and are currently being added to. These - using both the concertina and scroll format - form a substantial part of Douglas' most recent thinking and work in creating Visual Narrative.
Printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks they are hand bound and produced in small editions.
Editions and Scrolls: 2010 - 2012
A Manuscript for Contemplation
Helen Douglas, TRAQUAIR HOUSE, 2012, 8cm x 12.5c, 172pp plus stitched in insets, various weights papers, embossed papers, end papers, leather bound, foiled. Unique copy.
This manuscript was made in response to a commission from Edinburgh Printmakers for the exhibition Reflective Histories: Contemporary Art Interventions at Traquair House, a project curated by Edinburgh Printmakers, in the Year of Creative Scotland. The manuscript was created specifically for the window alcove in the Priest's Room at Traquair house, as a book of contemplation.
I was drawn to the hinged shuttered window and table-ledge-flap which suggested an economic quality of bookness in form and purpose, and was - I felt - imbued as a place of subterfuge study, illumination and reverie, within this inner white sanctuary for sacred devotion and hiding. This I felt would be a place for reflective history on Traquair's past shaped by my own work in the book.
My approach was to tease out history and illuminate aspects of Traquair's past through focussing on surface and what is embedded within and hidden behind surface. I looked at portraits, clothing, adornment, pattern, textiles and books in the house. In outward display, gesture, in symbol, pattern and intentional coded concealment, all told of a richness in story, which moved me in some deep way to connect to this history of Traquair, to that of Mary Queen of Scots, the Stuart Kings, and Catholicism.
With camera and printed image I sought to bring this optically and texturally to the paper page, and to explore this in the sequential turning of pages and within the structure of the book and it's binding. This manuscript book without words is to be read. In it's archaic form and binding it emphasizes, at a moment of huge upheaval for the codex book, the book as object and what this might mean to the reader.
Leda and the Swan, Apollo & Daphne.
Helen Douglas, Leda and the Swan, 2011, 184cm x 17.5 cm concertina, comprising of 52 pages (3.5cm x 17.5cm), printed on Chinese Paper, ultra chrome inks. Card end covers. Edition of 30. Price £80.
Helen Douglas, Apollo & Daphne, 2011, 190 cm x 17cm concertina, comprising of 54 pages (3.5cm x 17cm), printed on Chinese Paper, ultra chrome inks. Card end covers. Edition of 30. Price £80.
These two myths sited/sighted in the Border country are conceived as a pair. Both concertinas are fan like, fleeting and, as light as a feather. The chase of Apollo & Daphne appears fleetingly in dappled dark and wooded light to be quickly dispersed within the deep turbulent rush of a Scottish burn with its Alder green leaves and grasping red roots, until all is gone in the flowing stream of the concertina. In contrast the meeting of Leda and the Swan is glimpsed within the light leafy clearing of a Scottish loch, the concertina itself opening as wings to reveal this central opening.
Leda and the Swan
Apollo & Daphne.
The Pleasure of Minnows
Helen Douglas, The Pleasure of Minnows, 2012, 110cm x 27cm concertina, comprising 12 pages (9cm x 27cm), printed on Chinese Paper, ultra chrome inks. Card end covers. Edition of 30. Price £60.
In playful hommage to Zhou Dongqing, this concertina opens to reveal a shoal of Yarrow minnows darting, some momentarily pausing, suspended spacially within the subtle opacity and translucency of the glazed Chinese paper.
Helen Douglas, Valerie Gillies, Poempondscroll, 2010. 5.7 metres x 21cm scroll, printed on Chinese paper, ultra chrome inks. Edition of 4. Sold.
This scroll was made in collaboration with poet Valerie Gillies, and evolved out of a commission from Dundee University for the AHRC funded research Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text + Cognition. http://www.poetrybeyondtext.org/gallery.html.
The reflective expanse and circle of the pond at Deuchar Mill inspired Douglas to explore the scroll format, and gave Valerie Gillies the idea of writing a poem in Chinese form using couplets to encircle the creatures which live in the pond. The result, poempondscroll, is a horizontal hand scroll over 5 metres long, which visually evokes light and reflections on water, with an intergrated text that merges and disappears within the rendered details of water insects, rushes and the pond itself.
This scroll can be seen in the manuscript collections of The Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh and The Dept of Rare Books & Manuscripts, The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
Helen Douglas, The Pond at Deuchar, 2011, 14 metres x 27cm hand scroll, printed on Chinese Xuan paper, ultra chrome inks. Silk ribbon edged. Edition of 4. £800.
Evolving out of the initial scroll made in 2010, this long hand scroll continues Douglas' exploration of the pond at Deuchar in deeper and richer colour and at greater length. In the course of the scroll's unfurling March toads give way to arabesques of spawn, leading to edgings of May Kingcups, other plants, and numerous pond insects in Mid Summer. As becomes the scroll, points of vision and moods shift: the eye moves over the water and into its depth, across its rippling or still surface and to within the deep reflection that it renders, to conjure a world of immersion.
This scroll was made with the aid of a small Visual Artist Award received from Scottish Borders Council & Creative Scotland.
SWAN SONGS with damselflies
Helen Douglas, SWAN SONGS with damselflies, Weproductions, 2006.
11 metres x 220 mm concertina, comprising of 86 pages, french folds, seam stitched at spine. Card end covers. Paper band with title. Edition of 30, numbered. Price £200.
SWAN SONGS with damselflies is a contemplative exploration of the lake/loch and its inhabitants. Distilled to the page as an ancient repository of time, swans reflect and glide while plants grow and damselflies flit.
A concertina, Swan Songs with damselflies unfolds in double spreads and phrases, and can be read as one long continuous 11 metre strip, much like a scroll. Printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks on a gossamer fine 30gms chinese drawing paper, the saturated image seeps into the paper, fusing image with surface.
This book won the Birgit Skiöld Memorial Trust Award LAB 06.
REFLECTION and GLYPH
Helen Douglas, Reflection, Weproductions, 2006, 12pp, 160 x 195mm, printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks on 35gms Chinese drawing paper, cream card cover, thread bound. Edition of 40. Out of print.
Helen Douglas, GLYPH, Weproductions, 2006, 12pp, 173 x 228mm, printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks on 35gms Chinese drawing paper, white card cover, thread bound. Edition of 55. Price £30. A few copies left.
These two contemplative books were made in the same period as SWAN SONGS with damselflies. In both books the images are printed on fine transparent Chinese paper as individual double spreads, the inks penetrating to the verso of each page. Images of plants and water reflections combine with paper and print to create subtle contemplative effects within and through the pages. Reflection captures delicate shimmer in distance and depth, whilst in the foreground dead rushes bend, reflect and mourn. In contrast Glyph captures the articulated excitement of lily pads emerging from water in spring. Angled and precise in mirror image reflection they punctuate the plain of water/page as letter, character: as glyph.
THE FLIT SERIES
Helen Douglas, The FLIT series; Ephemera 1, Ephemera 2, Whirligig, Buttercup and Long-legged Fly, Weproductions 2006. 5 Booklets, each 12pp, 110 x 162mm, printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks on character original wove paper, white cover, thread bound. Out of print.
These books were originated in 2002 and put into production in 2006. They were conceived as small visual poems. Images are paired in three double spreads, and gather around an insect or flower within their setting, upon Deuchar burn. Ephemeral like the Mayfly (Ephemera danica), they are printed on plain paper and fold like a letter into an envelope.
Helen Douglas, Field Notes, Weproductions, 2006, 70pp, 70 x 90mm, printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks, stitched with light brown cover, dust jacket, elastic textile band. Edition of 30. Out of print
This small book was a commissioned work made for the "Special Collections" exhibition of artists' books held at Leeds University, 2007.
The book is made up of a small photographic collection of insects and leaves that Douglas had made, all photographed in relation to the book and the white page. One beetle makes for the crevice, another beetles off to the corner, a caterpillar crawls behind and up the edge of the page and a prickly holly leaf spears open the central spread. The printed pages of insects and leaves are inserted and threaded into a previously threaded blank paged notebook to create a bulging book with unruly fore edge, thus affirming the collection spirit of this final book.
Helen Douglas, Aaron Shurin, Threshold, Weproductions, 2006, 48pp,175 x 230mm pages printed by inkjet with guaranteed Ultrachrome inks on 30gsm cream Chinese drawing paper, thread bound into 210 x 300mm cream card cover with embossed title, fastened with green silk ribbon. Edition 40. Price on asking. 2 copies remaining.
This folio holds within its covers a beautiful union between the prints of classical goddesses made by Helen Douglas and the light quivering text by Aaron Shurin. The goddesses are at one within the landscape garden in which they live, rendered in textural and tonal fusion, the light transparency of paper and its saturation by ink adding to this confluence. As in a garden landscape, the viewer lightly turns the dapple leafed pages and ventures through, the goddesses serenely turning their heads and redirecting our attention and viewpoint. In an opening of sky, through the transparency of the page, they lead us to the hovering plain of text, and on reading this in turn heightens our awareness and leads us in excitement to Terpsichore, Diana and the full greens of spring.