Oak Holm Exhibition: Modern One, Pig Rock Bothy, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


High up on a twisting branch, amongst the dense canopy of oak, nestling under the rounded lobes of a leaf, sits a small brown wooden orb. On its smooth surface, a tiny hole appears and a small insect emerges.
This is the oak gall wasp, a curious benefactor of centuries of scribes, artists and scriveners. Harvested, crushed, and distilled through a complex alchemy, these oak gall granules are transformed into a silky black ink.
And up until its demise in favour of industrial chemical inks last Century, Oak-gall Ink was the standard writing and drawing medium.
For OAK David Faithfull has gathered these local galls and through a series of experimental printmaking processes, transformed them into a print installation, reflecting some of the particular characteristics of the Pig Rock Bothy and its surroundings as well as referencing Escher’s interest in pattern and nature.
Entitled ‘holm’ the 4 prints, geometrically metamorphose with the bothy’s own windblown inclination, whilst representing the wasp’s own curious lifecycle.
Initially screen-printed the, crushed oak galls have been heavily embossed onto the paper surface through an etching press, creating the distinct flock surface.
Adjacent to the prints, an old Edinburgh oak school desk lies recumbent; witness to generations of study and toil, with pen and ink. A palimpsest of scratches, gouges, graffiti, chewing gum and blots; the surface is laser-cut with the word ‘quercus’, the Latin for the oak genus.

‘Holm’ and ‘Quercus’ were printed with Scott Hudson at DCA Print Studio, as part of this year’s Print Festival Scotland.

noun an area of low-lying ground by water that is submerged in time of flood. from Old Norse holmr.

holm oak
noun an evergreen southern European oak. Also called holly oak or ilex. late Middle English: holm, from Old English holen [holly.]

Latin for Oak tree

Additional Print info:
HOLM text derived from Johannes Gutenberg’s 1454 Bible, the first and most important book to be printed in Europe.
OAK connection with MC Escher’s print ‘3 Worlds’ 1955

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh, UK
PublisherScottish National Galleries of Modern Art
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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