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Art, Language and Culture          

The Hirta Portfolio

The Hirta Portfolio, which commemorates the culture and evacuation of the island of St Kilda, is the unique collaboration between the poet and writer Bill Duncan and the artist and printmaker Susan Wilson.

Produced in Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio, the folio is based on a suite of five poems written by Bill Duncan after working on a National trust for Scotland archaeological dig on St Kilda. Haunted by the landscape and history of the island he felt impelled to tell the island's story through images evoked by the poems.

The Hirta Portfolio Photograph: Susan Wilson

The etchings made by Susan Wilson, as illustrations to the poems, reflect both the content of the poems and the strong affinity she felt for the writing, and contain both a personal response and historical detail found through her own research. Word and image flow together in a seamless whole.

Susan Wilson Photograph: Susan Wilson

The folio is a poignant tribute to the islanders and their way of life; each of the 36 folios in this limited edition is dedicated to one of the islanders evacuated from St Kilda on the 29th August 1930.

Of the six proof copies, one was presented to Ian Davidson, Conservation Manager of the National Trust for Scotland at Castle Fraser. It was exhibited in Wemyss House, Charlotte Square as part of the series of exhibitions "500 Years of Printing in Scotland 1508 - 2008" with a first edition (1698) of Martin Martin's "A Late Voyage to St Kilda".

For further information about the Hirta Portfolio, future exhibitions and the availability of the edition for purchase please email: and

or telephone: DCA Print Studio +44 (0) 1382 909242


© The National Trust for Scotland