Wild Flowers from Nature

Following a three week residency in Belfast Print Workshop, I have an exhibition in their gallery from 6th March to 30th March, 2014. ‘Wild Flowers from Nature’ includes linocutting, letterpress, etching and screenprints.

‘Wild Flowers from Nature’ is a book of flower paintings by Katharine and Frederica Plunket (different spelling!) which they painted on their many travels throughout Europe as well as at home in County Louth. They lived in Ballymascanlon and a number of the drawings relate to flowers growing in the grounds of the house. Frederica died in 1886 and in 1903 Katharine collected the drawings into a leather bound book and donated it to the Museum of Science and Art, Dublin; it was later transferred to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and is now held in their library. Katherine died in 1932 at the age of 112 and a little over ten years later another Plunkett family moved into the house. My father recalls his mother pointing out the flowers that would have remained from Katharine Plunket’s time. Based on the flowers of the book and my own photos from the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, Kilmacurragh and Belfast, I have produced a small collection of etchings and screenprints which are now on exhibition in Belfast Print Workshop Gallery. You can read more about the work in progress here.

In addition, my recent book ‘Eveline‘, James Joyce’s short story from Dubliners with six linocuts will also be on show, as well as my book ‘Night Prayer’ and its accompanying seven linocuts and fourteen etchings.

This is my first solo show and I’m delighted to be exhibiting in Belfast Print Workshop. The show was opened by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who also took time to visit the workshop and make his own screenprint! Thanks to all who braved the bad weather to see the show and to those who travelled to see it, it is much appreciated! The exhibition continues until 30th March.




Eveline is a short story from James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’. It is a beautiful and poignant short story and one that stays with you long after you’ve read it. It was first printed in 1904 in the ‘Irish Homestead’ and ten years later in 1914 as part of ‘Dubliners’.

Last year I wanted to make a book around two small etchings and revisited this story as a possible text to accompany them. Instead I decided to make new prints in response to this text and produce a limited edition letterpress printed book.

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Six Linocuts


Six Linocuts

Six linocuts take selected scenes from the story and are presented in the book with an accompanying quotation. The linocuts are presented in their own section, before the main text so that they can be seen independently and not purely as illustration. I used my family for the figures in the story, in particular images of my sister and my grandmother for the figure of Eveline and my brother-in-law and my boyfriend for Frank, the young sailor who wants Eveline to run away with him to Buenos Ayres. My own surroundings provided the inspiration for the street views and the objects ‘over the broken harmonium’. A short introduction to the book outlines these references and some further background to the original publication in 1904.

Printing the text


One Dubliner

The prints are followed by the full text of the story set by hand and printed letterpress.

The book was printed at Distillers Press, the letterpress facility at the National College of Art & Design as I came to the end of my year as Designer in Residence in the Autumn of 2013. It was printed on an Adwest Western Double Crown Proofing Press and a FAG Swiss Proof 40 on 170gsm Zerkall mould made letterpress paper. The text was set by hand in 14pt Garamond Roman and Italic with titles in 18pt Garamond Swash Italic. The metal type was cast at Hand & Eye Letterpress in London, where I spent a fantastic three months in 2011. The linocuts fill the page and two are also used for the binding of the book.

14pt Garamond Roman

The book has been sewn by hand and quarter bound in grey cloth and Zerkall 145gsm paper by the wonderful Duffy Bookbinders. Each book is presented in a cloth covered slip case. A deluxe version is presented in a larger slip case in beige/gold cloth with a portfolio of three flat prints from the book.

The book was available for the first time at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair November 2nd & 3rd, 2013 at Oxford Brookes University and I was delighted with the compliments received! It was also exhibited in Graphic Studio Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin, as part of the Christmas Exhibition from December 5, 2013 to 25 January 2014.

The full selection of prints is exhibited for the first time in Belfast Print Workshop Gallery, 6-30 March, (with the book of course!) as part of my exhibition ‘Wild Flowers from Nature’.

Both versions of the book and all prints will be available for sale.



A Natural Selection

I am delighted to be part of this exhibition with Graphic Studio Dublin and the National Botanic Gardens, ‘A Natural Selection’. 100 artists were asked to respond to any aspect of the gardens and produce a small print in an edition of 100. All the prints are the same size of 12cm x 13cm on a page of 28cm x 32cm and all are just €100.


‘Wrenn’s Nest’ is based on a quick photo snapped as my niece (the Wrenn in question) climbed through the branches of the Cryptomeria Japonica Elegans in Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens, Co Wicklow. A fantastic natural playground that attracted every child from the nearby picnic tables and provided them each with their own secret garden to explore.

I had planned to do another image and was even in the process of etching it when a summer picnic brought us to Kilmacurragh and my niece began clambering all over the branches of this fantastic tree, the Cryptomeria Japonica Elegans. Though it appears to be a clump of smaller trees, when you duck inside you discover a great array of branches emanating from the same source. A few photos on the phone and I had a new subject for my print.


I used a copper sulphate and salt solution to etch two aluminium plates. A hard ground was used for the line and open bite for the tonal areas.



A sepia shade was used for the first plate and a blue and black mix for the other.



The prints were then editioned – though they’re not asking for the full 100 from us just yet!


(Above photo courtesy of A Natural Selection Facebook page)

The Exhibition opened Thursday 14 November and drew a great crowd and a fantastic number of sales. It continues daily until 5 December. I’ll be there myself on 3 December, invigilating for the day.

All the prints can also be viewed here on the Natural Selection website so you can decide what you like and have your credit card ready! Or if you can’t make the exhibition you can buy the artwork online here.

It is hoped the exhibition will travel into next year. After the exhibition closes in the Botanic Gardens it will open in Greenacres in Wexford and the prints will also be available through Graphic Studio Gallery in Temple Bar, Dublin.

You can follow A Natural Selection on Twitter @GsdNatural and like their Facebook page for more updates and information.