Picturing Stories

Picturing Stories is an exhibition that opened on Saturday 20th August and runs to the 16th September 2016. It features work I have made in the last three years while studying for a doctorate at Edinburgh College of Art. The images are based on stories from around the world and try to illustrate them in a manner that does not show a specific culture. The illustrations are made using cardboard stencils, acrylic ink and toothbrushes to make small spray-painted images. I particularly like these ways of producing the illustrations because they are similar to early art forms evidenced in cave paintings, found all over the world.

This exhibition is based on the stories in the Tales from the Arabian Nights compiled by Andrew Lang and those collected by the Grimm brothers. Both of these collections were heavily edited by their transcribers; whereas, my illustrations aim to be open to the readers’ interpretation.

The illustrator Jane Ray writes: “…a ‘fairy tale’ is a tale that has a familiarity to it, a certain shape, and with archetypal characters and situations – the wicked witch, the step-mother, the princess, the poor peasant, castles, towers, enchanted animals and forests ….”

Archetypes in fairy tales are based on symbols which our unconscious communicates through, as it does when we dream. In our own personal way, all human beings experience dreaming, and also share common behaviour patterns and emotions. This kinship is the reason similar stories arise in different places and have been retold generation to generation.

In these illustrations, I wanted to capture the ability of these tales to travel across cultural borders. To do this I started to look at folk art. It has similar qualities in its use of symbolism and often has a handmade aesthetic which makes folk art tactile and familiar. For this reason, I am trying to formulate ways of reproducing the books by hand which is not too time consuming but will still provide a coloured, aesthetic and legible set of images. The works on display are some of the first attempts to show my intercultural approach to a collection of fairy tales and folktales.

Thanks to Matluba and Rana for the photographs!

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