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Special Collections acquires a full set Jean Johnstone’s hand-made artist books

A selection of hand-made books from Jean Johnstone.
Detail from Sketch of sleeping figure (2001).
Pomegranate (1998) in its box.

We are delighted to have purchased 15 wonderful artist’s books by Jean Johnstone, a Fife-based artist who creates hand-made books in collaboration with Scottish and international poets including John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie, John Glenday, Michael Longley, Anna Crowe, Anna Aguilar-Amat and Christopher Whyte. Each work is lovingly crafted from fine hand-made papers sourced from around the world, with exquisite pen and ink drawings or copperplate etchings by the artist. The books are variously housed in handsome wooden boxes, in sculpted paper containers or wrapped in beautiful silks. Some of the handwritten poems are parallel translations between English, Catalan or Gaelic, others are single poems to be savoured as they are carefully unwrapped and laid out, admiring the artistry as well as the words.

Podria parlar obertament/Nam bruidhninn-sa gu follaiseach (2004) Scots Gaelic poem by Christopher Whyte, Catalan by Miquel Desclot

Jean Johnstone’s practice is to produce only a few copies of each poem, and she sells only to libraries. We are lucky enough to have acquired a full set of those she has already created, and we will continue to collect her future fusions of art and literature. They will be much treasured at Special Collections as fine examples of contemporary creativity.

Maia Sheridan

Manuscripts Archivist

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