CLOSE-KNIT by Julia Douglas


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Scottish artist Douglas finds a home—and a vast canvas—in the Highlands.

If the names Culloden and Glencoe mean anything to you, then you will immediately appreciate Douglas’ purpose in setting the installations and other projects depicted here in the country of the Clearances, including what P.L. Snow, in his introductory essay, calls “the unforgiving land of Helmsdale.” Much of Douglas’ body of work has concerned the everyday and the domestic, and the works here are of a piece: origami set on china; a chandelier, subversively titled A Wee Bit of Light Relief, that incorporates a mobile made of wooden spoons, crust rollers, pie tins, utensils, and the like; and, perhaps most affectingly, a group of linked knit booties in honor of the bairns of the cliffside village of Badbea, where “so dangerous were their surroundings that, when the children were playing outside, they had to be tethered to posts and rocks to stop them falling off the cliffs into the sea.” Some of the installations are breathtakingly simple in their conception: an arrangement of flowers in the ruins of a croft, for example. Others, made with the help of the descendants of those bairns and crofters, are more complex. The app is satisfying as is, though a couple of touches would have been welcome—for one, perhaps, recordings of those people as they spoke of their lives. Navigation is simple, though readers with older iPads may find that it takes a little time to load some of the slideshows for the first time.

That said, Douglas and the engineers of this app have made Helmsdale seem a very attractive place indeed on which to pay a call. Watch for a spike in tourism—and, with luck, other apps like this celebrating local history and art.


Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2014
Publisher: Coffee With A Lid Ltd
Review Posted Online:


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