Colour and Text: No Boundaries?

an image of a green sheaf
“Cover.” The Green Sheaf, vol. 2, 1903.
From The Green Sheaf, vol. 2 by Pamela Colman Smith.


I was particularly struck by The Green Sheaf and its integration of image and text. Unlike most of the little magazines we have studied over the semester, The Green Sheaf offers the most overt connection between its literature and art. I particularly enjoyed how the images are not contained by borders or lines as in most of the art in other magazines; they are instead hovering on the page right in line with the text. This lack of border combined with the images’ bold colours creates an extra layer of connection to the theme of mysticism and dreams which underlies The Green Sheaf‘s content. Blending image and text in this way is an impressive feat by editor Pamela Colman Smith.


Painting of a standing woman, holding a flower. Elements of the painting (flowers, alcohol, skull) seem to be flowing out of the frame of the painting.
“La Parisienne.” Louis Oury, The Savoy, vol.1, 1896.


The lack of border also got me thinking about the image in The Savoy (entitled “La Parisienne” by Louis Oury) which seems to have its artwork overflowing and extending outside of its frame. I was always struck by how this image seemed to defy its classical Victorian restraints and norms, embodied in a defined border. The fact that most of The Green Sheaf‘s images have the same impact and forgo borders in order to be that much closer to the text suggests how cohesive and unified The Green Sheaf sought to be. This connection thus rethinks the disciplinary boundaries between literature and visual art, where artwork can complement and enhance literature without any boundary or border.

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