Identity & Narrative/Altered Images

We have begun our third and final project for this term, entitled “Identity and Narrative/Altered Images” and I wanted to continue from the previous prints but in a new and unique way to how I’ve been working so far. I primarily enjoy drawing portraits, so I wanted to try that on a larger scale like with the flowers and bees print. I also wanted to explore themes key to my identity, and explore subject matter and narratives more close to my heart.
I struggled for a while to decide what I wanted to do, making a small mind map (for the first time since starting uni) in my sketchbook exploring avenues that my prints could take. 

It’s messy, and there’s a jumble of ideas, but one thing shone through for me: I want to create work based on the Bible

I spent a whole day labouring over what to create- what concepts I should look at, how I should excecute them, etc. I had lots of loose ideas, or thoughts I wanted to explore, but I didn’t have a visualisation of them in my head. I really tore myself up trying to force myself to start making, as I didn’t want to fall behind and waste too much time, and also asked for help from people in my church House Group, who gave me advice and prayer. 

I woke up the next day overflowing with ideas and a definite image in my head- hoorah! Inspiration!

I had realised what I was lacking in my prints was a narrative, and with this being in the project brief I knew I definitely wanted to push myself to try to create this. We had watched an artwork film in the previous lecture about issues of assimilation, imperialism and cultures colliding- “Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy” by Tracey Moffet. Even though this video’s content doesn’t relate to what I want to explore, the way in which it layers up imagery and meaning really does. I found that before the video and it’s history and narrative were explained to me, I found my own and managed to read some of what was happening even when I was clueless to the artist’s story- and I want to capture this same communicative power in my own work. I want to embrace the “shown not told” method of narrative, and tell someone’s story purely visually. 

So: I set out to tell the stories of lesser-known characters of the Bible through linocut prints. The characters I choose would be those whose lives were completely changed, their identities/images were entirely altered through faith in God and doing his will. 

I wanted to make it a really two-dimensional, stylised representation of them to ask the questions “who are they?”, “where are they?”, “how do they feel?”. I also thought it would be interesting to put an object key to their story in the background/around them, to bring in further questions and connotations as to who they are and how these objects are significant. When I discussed this idea with Graham he pointed out how this resembled the iconography in paintings of Saints to symbolise their martyrdoms- an unconscious association to me but one that definitely ties into the narrative I was seeking to create. I even thought about how I wanted it to be important in my design that the characters have their eyes closed to make them look peaceful, in prayer, and to illustrate 2Corinthians 5:7- “For we walk by faith and not by sight”. 

I made sure to write down as much of my ideas as possible to not forget all the different threads I wanted to explore

I began with the character of Rahab, whose story is found in Joshua chapter 2 in the Old Testament. She is a heroic female character, from ordinary beginnings, living as a prostitute until she helped the Israelite spies out of faith and changed the course of her life and eternity forever. The red rope she uses to lower the spies out of the window of her home in the wall of the fortress of Jericho is the object I wanted to use as being key to her story. I was keen to make another attempt at making a two colour print, this time using two separate linos (so that I can recreate the images in the future) and thought that making the rope red was the perfect opportunity.

I made sure to document my work a lot as I went along, and uploaded all these to Instagram as I made progress

It took me a while to learn and get used to lining up two prints, so I made several (including one that was just the black detail). 

I wanted to make her clothing look as authentic as possible, so I used references online. I love how the design and colours turned out and Ryan commented that it looked rather like Russian art, which is another subliminal addition to the work and yet encapsulates one of my main interests and influences artistically

I thoroughly enjoyed making these prints and really feel like my work is developing fast and is becoming much more sophisticated. I spoke to Ally about how I feel as though I’m developing my own ‘style’, which even though it isn’t necessary is really encouraging and interesting to me- it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to continue on with this project and make two or three more characters (time willing) to make a series of narrative images. 

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