Jo McDonald



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'Unique Recollections II', second-hand books and cotton warp. 12ft x 12ft

'Revised Edition 2003 (All Rights Reserved), second-hand books and monofilament. 100cm diameter x 30cm

'What's the Story?', second-hand books and monofilament. 100cm x 100cm x 250cm

'Short Stories', second-hand books and monofilament. 30cm x 30cm x 6cm

'Snippets', second-hand books and linen warp. 22cm x 15cm

'I dream'd I lay', second-hand books and monofilament. 30cm x 30cm x 8cm


My work is about history, more precisely about the story-telling aspects of history, as it changes with each re-writing.

From an early age, I was fascinated by books and story-telling. I remember the excitement of a weekly treat, of choosing a book from our local booksellers. For me, reading was a great comfort. I ventured into a world of escapism, where I had a certain amount of control over the adventure.

As an adult, I have not lost this fascination with the written word.

In my work, I use second-hand books and printed matter, and their built-in history is the basic attraction for me. The objects already contain traces of the past – fingerprints, skin, dedications, scribbled notes- which offer us a glimpse into their earlier life.

I de-construct the books and make them into structures which are still redolent of their original history, but which now have a new visual form.

Engaging with a book is a sensory experience. There are the colours of the pages, set against the patterns of the text; the smell and texture of the different papers, bound in a variety of covers; the mustiness of old books, next to the crispness of new editions; the sound of the pages turning as you get deeper into the story.

I am intrigued by the memories particular texts hold for us.
When stories are told, and continue to be re-told through generations, they are not forgotten. They become the memory of who we were.


Jo is a full-time Scottish visual artist, living and working in Edinburgh. She has been experimenting with paper for over 20 years, since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art with a first-class BA (Hons) and MFA in Tapestry.
Jo has work held in Apex Temple Court Hotel in London, Amateras Foundation in Bulgaria, University of Aberdeen in Scotland and The Gallery of Szombathelyi in Hungary, as well as in private collections in UK, France, USA and South Africa. She was short-listed for The Cordis Trust Prize for Woven Tapestry in 2015, granted a Creative Scotland Professional Development Award in 2013, and won the Milly and Benno Schotz Award for best work submitted by a young sculptor at the Royal Glasgow Institute in 2012.
As well as developing her own work and career as a professional artist, Jo also teaches within the Edinburgh Adult Education Programme and runs various workshops throughout the UK.


Please click here to download the CV for Jo McDonald