There were lots of fun exercises as part of our ‘Word and Image’ course, but what I loved most was having to visualize a poem of our choice…something about giving form to an abstract idea seemed like a good challenge.
I picked Philip Larkin’s ‘Wants’, a long-time favourite:
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone
However the sky grows dark with invitation cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flagstaff
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.
Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs:
Despite the artful tensions of the calendar,
The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites
The costly aversion of the eyes from death -
Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs.
To me the poem was an ode of sorts to solitude and death, against the superficiality of everyday life - what you choose to see and what you keep averting your eyes from. Grand themes indeed :) And I love the way it goes back and forth across them, so I came up with a booklet that tried to capture that movement…
The translucent paper with bright motifs is meant to work against the stark white-on-black below, going ‘beneath’ and ‘beyond’ to be read on two levels, turning each page back and forth.
I illustrated each line of the poem with two sets of minimalist icons to represent both layers of meaning…the balloons, for example, turn into sperm on the lower level; the family photograph morphs into a single person within the frame. I wish there were better images, but I hope you get the idea :)
It ends with a heartbeat and a flat-line. The whole booklet was made circular to imitate eyeballs, because I thought the idea of the eyes averting death was quite a strong metaphor.
Hopefully I can get this printed on proper paper and make it a decent-looking booklet! But for now it’s a small hand-made treasure :)