Born in 19973, Jo studied Tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with an MFA in 2003. Since then she has combined her practice with teaching in adult education in Edinburgh.
In her recent work, McDonald deconstructs printed materials and, in their new form, weaves them into tapestries and structures, which, while still redolent of their original history, take on an entirely new visual identity. It is the discovery of how a material can be manipulated, the qualities and possibilities of the paper itself, which she finds exciting. She sees her tapestries as a collection of words and stories, reflecting the way in which we build memories.
Title: The Songs you used to Play II
Medium: Second-hand Scottish books, bagpipe sheet music, Robert Burns poetry and cotton warp
Series of 10
Title: One for Every Year
Medium: Second-hand Robert Burns books, scottish song books, cotton warp and spun cassette tapes
Series of 10
Ae Fond Kiss
Medium: Second-hand Robert Burns books, bagpipe sheet music, monofilament and wire
Dimensions: presented in a Perspex box, 30x8x30cm
Series of 10
One For Every Year (2012) – second-hand Robert Burns books, Scottish songbooks, cotton warp and spun cassette tapes
The Songs You Used To Play III (2013) – Second-hand books, bagpipe sheet music, Robert Burns poetry and cotton warp
We’re No Awa’ Tae Bide Awa’ (2012) – Scottish songbooks and prose, bagpipe sheet music, monofilament and wire
Sonnets For Dad (2012)- Scottish songbooks and prose, Robert Burns poetry, cotton warp and monofilament
Short Stories II (2012) – Second-hand books and monofilament
My work is about history and story-telling.
From an early age, I have been 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 have extensively experimented with traditional tapestry weaving techniques using paper as as alternative medium to the customary wools and threads. I use second-hand books and printed matter, and their built-in history is the 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 new structures, which still contain their original history, but which now have a new visual form.
The visual look is paramount: it is about the pattern of letters, the colour and quality of the paper as it ages, and the edges.
The discovery of how a material can be manipulated – the qualities and possibilities of the paper itself – excites me.
I am intrigued by the memories particular texts hold for us. When stories are told, and continue to be retold through generations, they are not forgotten. They become the memory of who we were.
These pieces are homage to my dad who had a very strong sense of his Scots identity who played the bagpipes and had a passion for the poetry of Robert Burns.
I have used his books and sheet music. Things that belonged to him, that hold traces of him. His eyes read those words. His mind made sense of, and enjoyed, the information and stories.
These works are part of his story. Most importantly, his story continues, through the dialogue that arises from the work and is passed on.” Jo McDonald
Burns Unbroke Visual Artists
Sign-up to keep informed of Burns Unbroke:
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland