I started off the project by making a huge list of things that I would be interested in involving within my final major project. After narrowing down hundreds of ideas I came across three that I felt like I could focus on. The three starting points being, Alchemy, Lost worlds and Every day. After lots of stressing and deciding I went with the Lost Worlds concept. As my last project in education, I wanted this project to be something I could really enjoy, so I went with my instincts.
I started researching Plato’s Atlantis. I bought a book with his original writings, the very first mention of Atlantis. I got a real feel for the natives and landscape that Plato described. Atlantian’s were a noble race that had no greed for gold or riches. Their power was with God. Much like Disney’s interpretation of the myth, even if it was exaggerated. So The landscape wouldn’t feature huge building or statues, maybe just simple shelters or huts. Atlantis was said to be near Greece, so the landscape, natives and plant life would be very similar to Greek traditions. The only hitch with this idea was that I would need to travel to Greece to get primary source material. It was unlikely, so I started thinking about other myths and legends like Atlantis. I was still deciding of what to focus on at this point, but I knew I had an interest in the landscape.
I looked at Disney’s Atlantis for inspiration of course, but I didn’t want to focus on it too much because I wanted to let my own imagination run free. I gained a lot of inspiration for Miyazaki’s Ponyo. The beautiful underwater scenes were perfect. My gut feeling to go with landscape was clearly the way to go with this project. So I started researching artists that covered similar themes to my own concept. Firstly I looked at Rich Gemmell. I really like his use of print combined with Photoshop to create his images. The element of charm is present in Gemmell’s work and I would like to have a similar effect on my audience. I then looked at Yellena James. The amazing line drawings and use of colour were what drew me to her work. Her illustrations seem to me like aquatic plant life and have a great organic feel. James’ use of bright colours also intrigued me. I have always struggled with colour in my work. I then turned my attention to Elly MacKay. I gained a lot from researching her work. Her amazing layered paper designs along with her illustrations to build scenes with artificial light to create atmosphere and warmth were right up my street. For the final project of my second year I created a light installation and I had a great response with it. I hoped that I could recreate this but add colour and make my installation more appropriate for my target audience.
I keep mentioning audience so I’ll clarify that my work is intended to be around children. Although I don’t really have an age range in mind. I feel like my illustrations could be suitable from nursery décor to classroom to under stair bathroom. I don’t feel like my illustrations have a age limit, but there is definitely a naïve charm that children are attracted to.
After feeling a bit lost in the project for a while I suddenly remembered a story that I was told at school of a Welsh Atlantis. Cantre’r Gwaelod is Wales’ answer to Plato. So I started researching the myth and found the exact poem we would read in assembly back in primary school. It was a blast from the past; I had to find a way to use it in my work. So with a new Atlantis in mind I started collecting reference material. I went out at 5 in the morning to get some shots of the surrounding areas of my home in Beddau, Pontypridd. Visited the aquarium at Western-Super-Mare and started sketching some of the native floras. I was really happy with this idea now, I felt like I could do a lot with it. I felt back on track.
There are many versions of Cantre’r Gwaelod but I planned to illustrate the version I knew from school.
All of the wealthy kingdoms are gathered at Cantre’r Gwaelod to celebrate the long awaited marriage of the Princess. The Princess however, doesn’t love her betrothed Prince; she fell in love with the Watchmen of the Golden Gates. The Golden Gates are opened and closed to stop the fertile land of Cantre’r Gwaelod from flooding. On the wedding night, the Watchman dreams of the Princess and now knows that he could never see her again. So he neglects his duties and the land is submerged by the sea water. Legend has it that if you stand on Cardigan Bay, early on a Sunday morning, you can still hear the church bells of Cantre’r Gwaelod.
So now I had a steady idea behind me, I felt like I could start looking into how I could now focus on a light installation or something to supersede my second year project. I thought about creating a lit up frame and making a nightlight or lampshade. Cantre’r Gwaelod certainly qualifies as a beautiful bedtime story, why not showcase it on a nightlight, I could create a great tool for story telling with this project. I started creating images using simple line and water colour but I felt they weren’t enough of a challenge for me. So I remembered Elly MacKay’s work and thought I would try something with tracing paper. Tracing paper is a challenge to work with, especially if you are using wet media. So I devised a technique so I could still use watercolour. I simply taped down the sides as if I were stretching the tracing paper; then used a hair drier to quickly dry the water. I then moved on to my nightlight and saw what I could use. I layered tissue paper to create the welsh landscape using previous sketches. I made lots of plans and sketches for how I could present my work at the exhibition. I thought that a dark room could be made available to me, like it had in second year, so I based a lot of my plans around that.
This is where I ran into some trouble with the exhibition plan. I had created my backlit frames and started my nightlight, when I was told that there would be no dark space for me to showcase my work. I didn’t have much time at this point to think of something complicated to solve my problem. I could still use my backlit frames but instead use daylight to shine through the layered tracing paper and reveal the detail. I then remembered the poem that I found while researching Cantre’r Gwaelod. I was really excited to use the literature I had read as a child within this project, so this was the perfect opportunity. I also have overlooked my strengths in typography during this project, so this was perfect. I created a simple ink write up of the poem ‘Clychau Cantre’r Gwaelod’ by J J Williams. A poem regularly read in my primary school. I used some of the doodles I came up with earlier in the project to embellish the pieces. With this fast solution to my exhibition plan issue, I kind of shocked myself with my flexibility, I didn’t know I could handle such a drastic change so late in the game.
I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t create a light installation with my work, but I’m really happy with the day light option. I’m really pleased with the typography pieces and think they really capture the charm I wanted from the story. I have definitely grown from this project, even if it’s just realizing my own flexibility. I have taken the techniques and processes that I know well and pushed them to create more complex images. I would continue this project by maybe taking photographs of the scenes. Make the layers more three dimensional and take photographs of the scenes. Overall, I’m really happy with the outcomes of this project.
So I realized I never posted the brief for this project when I wrote it! So here it is. :)
IL6 ILLUSTRATION FINAL MAJOR PROJECT
Project Title: Lost Worlds
Project Duration: 12 Weeks
Rationale (Why are you doing this now?)
This Final Major Project will give me the chance to showcase the skills I have learnt throughout my time in Hereford Collage of Arts. To Put together my best work and showcase it in a professional way in order to kick start post-graduate work.
With help from tutors, peers and mentors I can develop my skills through a skills audit and illustrate the progress I have made in the past 3 years.
Project Aims (What do you intend to learn?)
Project Outcomes (What do you intend to produce?)