The Hirta Portfolio

Bill Duncan and Susan Wilson


About the edition

The Hirta Portfolio commemorates the culture and evacuation of the island of St Kilda and is the unique product of a creative collaboration between writer Bill Duncan and printmaker Susan Wilson.

Produced in DCA Print Studio, the folio is based on a suite of poems written by Bill Duncan. After working on a National Trust for Scotland archaeological dig on St Kilda, and haunted by the landscape and history of the island, he felt impelled to tell the story of St Kilda in a suite of five short poems.

The etchings made by Susan Wilson, as illustrations to the five poems, reflect both the content of the poems and the strong affinity she felt for the writing, and contain both personal response and historical detail. Word and image flow together in a seamless whole, which forms a poignant tribute to the islanders and their way of life.

The final form of the portfolio was in part dictated by the paper chosen for the etchings, BFK Rives Tan, which was also used for the poems, both interleaved with translucent Japanese paper printed with details from the map of the Village Street and the titles of the etchings. The poems and interleaves were screenprinted by Steph Masterson at DCA Print Studio and the portfolio was hand made by Emma Fraser in Dundee. Acknowledgements page printed and embossed with DCA Print Studio stamp.

The Hirta Portfolio is produced in a limited edition of 36, one for each of the islanders evacuated from St Kilda on 29th August 1930. The back lining of the portfolio is printed with their names and, unusually, this edition is not being sold consecutively; buyers may choose a particular name and house. Please contact to enquire about specific portfolios.  

About the project

The Hirta Portfolio was exhibited in DCA (2001); was selected for “Natural Elements” in the offices of ScotlandEuropa, Brussels (2002); Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh and “Ex Libris”, Artists Books, Glasgow Print Studio (2003); StAnza Poetry Festival, St Andrews (2004). It was shown in Dundee Rep to coincide with a performance of The Haar by Bill Duncan and Andy Rice (2004); University of Dundee with Michael Powell’s film “The Edge of the World” (2005); The Gallery in the Air, Dundee (2005); as part of CEL editions in Hannah McLure Gallery, Dundee (2005) and in New York (2008). The folio was included in “Lasting Impressions: 500 years of printing in Scotland 1508-2008” The National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh to accompany a first edition (1698) of Martin Martin’s “A Late Voyage to St Kilda” (2008). It has been exhibited in the Gigha Gallery (2010) and Aros, Portree, Skye (2015).

Folios are in the collections of the Scottish Parliament, the National Library of Scotland, The National Trust for Scotland, the University of Dundee, as well as various private collections.

Year 2000
Edition of 36
Media Handmade cloth covered portfolio of screen printed poems and etchings on BFK Rives Tan paper (300gsm) interleaved with Tosa Washi Japanese paper
Dimensions 23 x 26cm
Signature Each etching signed, titled, numbered and dated by artist on lower verso
Artists Bill Duncan and Susan Wilson
Collaborators Steph Masterson, Emma Fraser

About Bill Duncan

Bill Duncan’s fiction includes The Smiling School for Calvinists and his non-fiction The Wee Book of Calvin. His work has been published in a wide range of magazines and newspapers and broadcast on BBC Radio. The Haar was a web-based multi-media collaboration with designer Andy Rice. In addition to his work with Susan Wilson on The Hirta Portfolio, he is active in print-making and photography at DCA Print Studio. He recently completed a degree in the History of Art.

About Susan Wilson

Susan Wilson was born in Dalry, Galloway and graduated with an Honours Degree in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, continuing her development as an artist with a Special Course in Painting and Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art. She is a member of DCA Print Studio, the Society of Scottish Artists and PrintRoom Dundee, and has exhibited both in this country and in international exchanges, representing Scotland in the Triennale exhibitions in Chamalieres, France. In addition to her work in etching, an important aspect of her work is in collaborations with poets and writers, notably The Hirta Portfolio, with Bill Duncan, about the history, culture and evacuation of the island of St Kilda; ‘blots’ with Colin Herd for The Written Image, a joint venture between The Scottish Poetry Library and Edinburgh Printmakers; and One old Onion and other poems with the poet Jenny Elliott which was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Prize 2014.

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Pick up in Store

If you would like to buy online and then collect your edition at DCA, please select the Pick up option at checkout. We will then be in touch to arrange a convenient collection time with you.