Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Heart Of Darkness Illustrations

Heart of Darkness (1899) is a short novel by Polish novelist Joseph Conrad, written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow's life as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. The river is “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land.” In the course of his travel in central Africa, Marlow becomes obsessed with Mr. Kurtz.

The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European Imperialism. Originally published as a three-part serial story, in Blackwood's Magazine, the novella Heart of Darkness has been variously published and translated into many languages.
Source Wikipedia accessed 11.30 am on 26.03.2014

My take on the story comes from my own personal experience as the descendant of ‘colonised’ peoples. I see the European adventure on the African continent strictly in negative terms. Of the world of the natives of the Congo River being mortally contaminated by a truly barbarous people with only one God on their minds, Mammon.

My work was created in response to an illustration competition The House of Illustration Folio Society Book Illustration Awards 2014. I have been unsuccessful in reaching the Long List stage of the competition which I find disappointing. However even before I made my initial sketches I had conceived of a project that would be an animated piece designed to communicate my unvarnished views on Imperialism. All empires are mistakes for the majority and it is they who always pay for this so called progress. “What have the Romans ever done for us?” Source Life Of Brian (Terry Jones 1979)

These images have already helped me shape a storyboard for my animation and this combined with my sound design works will help me to create my most critical and possibly controversial statement as an artist today. I will enter the finished work into competitions and hope to use it in an exhibition later this year to celebrate Black History Month. An animation called ‘A Personal Apocalypse.’

As a devotee of the movement Films Noir I have tried to work in elements and troupes from my treasured movie catalogue. Influences on the work below ranges from Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell 1947) to The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton 1955) via Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz 1945), The Big Heat (Fritz Lang 1953), Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944) and Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville 1967). 

Below each image is quote from the novel that inspired the image it accompanies. It was great to make 10 pieces of work for a collection and I believe they work well as a set.


Binding Design for the front and back covers

Chapter 1

1 of 9
As we sat over our vermouths he glorified the company’s business, I expressed casually my surprise at him not going out there.

2 of 9
`The groans of this sick person,' he said, distract my attention. And without that it is extremely difficult to guard against clerical errors in this climate.'

3 of 9
I tried a jig. We capered on the iron deck. A frightful clatter came out of that hulk, and the virgin forest on the other bank of the creek sent it back in a thundering roll upon the sleeping station.

Chapter 2

4 of 9
What he knew was this, the evil spirit inside the boiler would get angry through the greatness of his thirst, and take a terrible vengeance.

5 of 9
We had a glimpse of the towering multitude of trees, of the immense matted jungle, with the blazing little ball of the sun hanging over it--all perfectly still

6 of 9
The man had rolled on his back and stared straight up at me; both his hands clutched that cane. It was the shaft of a spear that, either thrown or lunged through the opening, had caught him in the side just below the ribs

7 of 9
He looked like a harlequin. His clothes had been made of some stuff that was brown holland probably, but it was covered with patches all over, with bright patches, blue, red, and yellow-patches on the back, patches on front, patches on elbows, on knees

Chapter 3

8 of 9
His covering had fallen off, and his body emerged from it pitiful and appalling as from a winding sheet.

9 of 9
The voice was gone. What else had been there? But I am of course aware that the next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole.

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