MA Illustration and Book Arts
Begun on campus but almost entirely made at home due to lockdowns during the global pandemic, Precious World is a reflection of the clash between old and new, the natural and artificial world, creation and destruction. The direction of the work was hugely influenced by the world events of 2020, and as a mature student, mother and working artist, I focused on creating a story to give hope about the benefits a catastrophe could have on the way we look after both our planet and each other: the chance to reset.
The resulting handmade book draws together ancient creation stories about the world being made from clay with the current global situation, expressing them in a tangible form. Concepts of time are bound in a book which references the timelessness of a fairytale or a saga - it exists as a precautionary history tale about greed and overconsumption, themes with more relevance than ever. Hand thrown bowls painted as three separate worlds are echoed in their material form by the clay tablets which contain the narrative, the ecological aspect of the writing also made manifest in the colouring of the tiles, leaves used as natural dyes.
As the story develops, unsustainable living and damage to the ecosystem lead to the worlds of plant, animal and human colliding and inevitably smashing: people have taken up too much space, a parallel to the pandemic and crossover of the virus from animal to human. The pause in the narrative, in which the balance of life on earth is reconsidered, has been an unprecedented reality for many, and the conclusion of the poem in which the three broken worlds of human, plant and animal are combined and made anew is illustrated using the ancient art of Kintsugi, reconstructing the three separate bowls (worlds) as one.
Themes of transformation are key, reflected in the media used throughout the project - a linocut transformed into a clay tablet; a pottery bowl transformed into a world by being painted; and the marrying of the two with a narrative written in the very early hours of a still summer morning. The world broken, then remade into a new, equal and more precious one led to the title - precious in both senses, with gold gluing the cracks together, and precious, now we realise what we have and do not wish to lose.