The Red Headed League

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Red Headed League - Pamphlet Cover

The Red Head League is a collaborative artist’s book initiated by Michael Day and Lesley Guy (as Furlough) and was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.

The project employed the services of thirteen red-headed artists to respond to entries from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Red Headed League - Pamphlet Interior Spread
Red Headed League – Pamphlet Interior Spread

According to Furlough:

In the Sherlock Holmes story The Red-Headed League, Jabez Wilson, a red-headed London businessman, is selected for a meaningless but well-paid clerical job by virtue of the redness of his hair. The job he is employed to carry out is to copy out pages of an Encyclopaedia, for which he is paid the sum of £4 per week. Suddenly, after several days, he arrives at work to find a note abruptly declaring that “The Red-Headed League is dissolved”. Sherlock Holmes later uncovers that the League was nothing more than a ruse to get Mr. Wilson out of the way so that a dishonest employee of his could dig a hole through to the bank vault next door to Wilson’s business premises.

This pamphlet contains artworks created by a “league” of thirteen artists who have been selected for the project because of the redness of their hair. In a critical and partial reenactment of the Sherlock Holmes story, each artist has been provided with one of the first thirteen images in the Encyclopaedia Britanica (Micropaedia Edition) as source material for their work.

Red Headed League - Pamphlet Interior Spread
Red Headed League – Pamphlet Interior Spread

In keeping with the spirit of Jabes Wilson’s original task from the short story I set about with an enclyclopedia, carbon paper and pen to copy out the original entry.

– Chris

Contributing artists: Alice Bradshaw, Cathrine Dahl, Eddy Dreadnought, Tim Etchells, Daniel Fogarty, Dag-Arve Forbergskog, Chris Gibson, Lesley Guy, Kim Noble, Lisa Murphy, Jóhanna Ellen Ríkharðsdóttir, Mary Smith, and Alice Thickett.

Specifications: November 2012. A5 litho offset print on 100gsm recycled stock, with abaca insert.
16 pages, hand-numbered edition of 300.