Sarah Nicholls – Glasshouse


© 2017
edition of 35
dimensions in inches: 9 x 11 x 1.5

about this piece

About this piece:
Glasshouse is a limited edition artist book that looks at the history of greenhouses, a technology made to cultivate foreign plants in a controlled environment, originally in service to empire. How did we build structures to contain trees meant to grow elsewhere? What is it like to sail off the edge of what you know? What does economic botany mean? I was originally interested in the subject because I thought building a house in which to grow foreign trees seemed like an odd thing to do. In an effort to understand what greenhouses meant, I read widely both in the history of botany and in the history of colonialism. In an era before the chemical industry, plants were the source of most economic advantage, so the cultivation of new kinds of plants taken from other areas of the world became important to Europeans. Botanical gardens were research facilities, not just collections of pretty flowers.

The book has two sections: the first discusses the development of greenhouses as a technology, and the rise of botany as a science. The second looks at specific kinds of plants that became important as global commodities. Images are printed from multi-color woodcuts; they are meant to give the impression of walking through a greenhouse as you page through the book. I used translucency as a technique to mimic the effect you get as you pass through glass rooms full of plants. Longer passages of text are printed on overlays which are like the didactic captions you get in a botanical garden display.

Imagery is printed from woodcuts on Sakamoto, waxed kozo and Zerkal Ingres. based on original photographs of greenhouses, and historical botanical illustrations. Text is written by the artist. Softcover housed in a clamshell box.

paper, ink, book board, book cloth
About the artist:


Sarah Nicholls is an artist, printmaker, and writer whose work combines language, image, visual narrative, and time. She has written a collection of self-help aphorisms, publishes a series of free informational pamphlets, and recently completed a field guide to extinct birds. She teaches printmaking and books arts at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of DesignShe has received support from the Brooklyn Arts Council and participated in residencies at Governor’s Island (through LMCC), in Chicago at the Center for Book and Paper Arts, and at Guttenberg Arts in New Jersey.

About Alicia Bailey


Sarah Nicholls – Glasshouse