Communication Design School of Design

Kirsten Slater


The St Kilda archipelago has been the central theme of my illustration practice this year. Inspired by its beauty and history during my 2019 visit, I have expressed my love for this environment through print and 3D making. Collagraph printing has become a crucial part of my creative process, allowing me to vividly portray the lives and customs of the island’s former inhabitants. This analogue printing technique has also enabled me to experiment with film, using each unique print as a frame in a stop-motion film. When shifting from printmaking to drawing in my practice, I focus on capturing quick, fluid imagery, particularly in life drawing, where my observational skills naturally guide me towards form and line.

An Ode on St Kilda
St Kilda Artifacts
Print Collection
Life Drawing
Nights of Cabiria Poster

An Ode on St Kilda

William Collins’ poem “An Ode on St Kilda,” from his collection “An Ode on the Popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland,” vividly portrays the life of the past inhabitants of the remote archipelago. Inspired by this poem, I undertook my main project this year by creating a visual response through printmaking and film. After visiting St Kilda in 2019, I utilized imagery from my trip alongside archival footage from the early 1900s, aiming to capture the essence of the island and its people.

My printmaking process involved collagraph printing, where I meticulously cut and scored fourteen plates of mountboard, inking them and running them through a printing press. Expanding on this process further with film, I explored stop-motion, using each unique print as a frame to produce a dynamic effect reminiscent of old film reels. The imagery created guides viewers around the island of Hirta, revealing the everyday life and intriguing customs of its inhabitants, shaped by their beliefs and traditions.

Scene 1 - Hirta

Scene 2 - Village Bay

Scene 3 - Wool Spinner

Scene 13 - Saining Cattle

Scene 14 - Looking Out to Sea

St Kilda Artifacts

To accompany “An Ode on St Kilda,” I created and sourced artifacts inspired by descriptions of island customs from George Seton’s “St Kilda” and Mary Harman’s “An Isle Called Hirta: A History and Culture of St Kilda to 1930.” Each artifact expands on short paragraphs from these texts, creating a broader narrative to revive details that have been lost over time. Scotland’s tradition of oral history makes preserving such stories challenging without physical objects to connect us to the past. Focusing on island beliefs and realities, I aimed to create artifacts with a tangible sense of space and presence, as if handled by the island’s inhabitants. To achieve this authenticity, I used as many raw materials as possible in their production.

Artifacts of St Kilda Catalogue

Link to flipbook:

Seabird nest

Fairy Cups and Saucers

Fairy Bowl aand Spoon

Decorative Michaelmas Cake Knife

Print Collection

A selection of print work from throughout the year, featuring the printing techniques of monoprint and collagraph.

Stac Lee Collagraph

Village Bay Collagraph

St Kilda Island Concertina

St Kilda Island Concertina

Atmospheric Monoprint

St Kilda Monoprint

Village Bay Monoprint

Collagraph Lace Doilies

Collagraph cutlery

Cutlery Collagraph

Life Drawing

A series of Life Drawings, all of which take reference from Bernard Noel’s “The Nude” (Photofile).

Nights of Cabiria Poster

Mixed media film poster made with Collagraph and Screenprinting techniques.

Media - Collagraph, Ink, Wax pastel

Sketchbook Development

Cabiria Collagraph

Picture Frame Collagraph

Candle Collagraph