Liz Douglas
Empire Empire Empire Empire Empire Empire Empire

Empire - Flax
Lines of Enquiry
Detail 7

Empire: A Society of Scottish Artists members’exhibition curated by Gayle Nelson PSSA & Alan Bond SSA

Lines of Enquiry

“Thus to sow a thing in the ground for the purposes of catching the winds and tempests;  it being not enough ….., forsooth, to be borne upon the waves alone!”
Pliny the elder

 This piece of artwork researches the flax plant, (Linum usitatissimum)- lint in old Scots , which is an ancient plant cultivated all over the world from earliest times. It was also cultivated in Scotland and used as the source material in the making of coarse linen, used in sail making in the shipping trade to and from the port of Montrose.

The emphasis that I have given to this work is that of a ‘work-in-progress’, where the paper itself is the working surface on which marks and lines are drawn, printed, etched and laser-cut. The paper is a place where the act of making the work is akin to a voyage, where the unpredictable occurs, referencing my researches into flax and trade with the Empire. This work is a result of extensively sifting material gathered, to explore the boundaries between the handmade and machine made, to convey something about Empire with an emphasis on the poetic.

The research element of this project has been funded by Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards: South of Scotland 2014-15 in partnership with Creative Scotland

I wish to thank the staff at Angus Council; Dundee City Archives; Montrose Museum; Arbroath Signal Tower Museum; Restenneth Priory, Forfar; John Aitken, and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, for their help and support during the research stage of this project.


Liz Douglas
July 2015