In 2015, we named Edinburgh College of Art illustration grad George Douglas as one of the It’s Nice That Graduates of that year, and his career thus far has been every bit exciting as we first imagined.
Over the past three years, he’s continued to develop his “chaotic amalgamation of Risoprint, collage, photography and screen-printing with hand-drawn elements”, producing a defined aesthetic which is truly his own. Simultaneously, he’s been working as a technician at his previous university and, more recently, in care work and arts education.
Having worked on publications which unravelled over short periods of time, his recent project Events in the Year of the Family marks a turn in his practice. Technically an autobiography – although George is more likely to use the term “personal archaeology” as it “deals as much with places and objects as it does with experiences,” – the publication features 24 episodes, one for each year of his life so far.
“Ordered in a non-linear narrative, each of these episodes uses an image and a small piece of writing to analyse an artefact from my past – or more accurately, the memory of that artefact,” George tells It’s Nice That. It’s this potential unreliability and falsification of memory which forms the crux of the project. “As the book delves deeper into this analysis, the narrative itself becomes more unreliable and abstract, until finding what, I hope, is a peaceful and hopeful resolution at the end,” he adds.
In terms of aesthetics, the publication is printed in blue, red and yellow – a specific choice for its childlike, naïve qualities. “Opening the book becomes like opening a toy box,” George tells us, “although the accompanying writing unfolds into something quite sinister in places.” In order to reflect the significant amount of time that the publication covers, its visuality is equally varied and eclectic. Some involve a lot of drawing, whereas others feature found objects or photography.
Each episode of the book also features a small amount of text – just five lines which adhere to a strict structure. Although not intended to be poetry, when “read altogether, each episode does become a stanza,” George explains. The snippets of thoughts provide context to the imagery but don’t form a prescribed reading. “I wanted it to be possible for the reader to experience the book front to back, as one narrative, or to be able to open any page and still enjoy each episode in isolation,” outlines George.
Ultimately, Events in the Year of the Family is an exploration into memory itself, how it forms, how we hold onto it, and how it evolves over time. “How reliable is it?” George asks, “What images are produced at the confluence of memory and imagination?”
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