Artist’s book, self-published
In The Last of the Balfours, I took a decidedly idiosyncratic, fictive approach – I’m not actually “the last of the Balfours”, although I am second to last in my extended family. An acknowledgement of the end of the branch of this particular lineage, this artist’s book has mortality at its core, but also the potentially humourous aspect of the connections sought between myself and a range of ‘Balfours’.
Eschewing traditional genealogical research, and instead relying on a range of research methods (consulting the internet to follow hunches, visiting gardens and herbaria, drawing from my own reading), I came up with an eclectic group of individuals including: the writer Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-1894) and his fictional character David Balfour; John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884), botanist and Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, and his great-great-granddaughter, contemporary actor Tilda Swinton. Other more tangential connections have been explored, involving figures such as the poet Emily Dickinson and the artist Donald Judd, as I wanted to push the sense of connectivity beyond the surname ‘Balfour’ itself, into diverse subjects of personal interest such as gardening, diaries, and tartan.
The artist wishes to acknowledge funding from the Ontario Arts Council for this project.