fig 1 Barbara Hilliam. A Chart in The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (2014) Granta Books
MORGAN, C. and EVANS, S. (2016) The Illustration report: The new Canon. Varoom. (32). Winter p 34-43.
This article, The New Canon, appears in the Winter 2016 issue of Varoom magazine, which focuses on ‘The New’. Seven ‘leading thinkers’ in the field of illustration were asked to propose five examples of excellent practice for a new Canon.
Most of those interviewed offered individual practitioners or specific publications. Two of the seven, Catrin Morgan and Sinead Evans suggested an holistic solution to the brief. It’s interesting to note that theses two are Illustration Lecturers, engaged in day-to-day undergrad teaching.
Catrin Morgan is a Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Falmouth University. Her research background is in the relationship between fact and fiction.
In the article, Morgan suggests a new and alternative ‘Canon’ of illustration practice. Rather than name individuals, she has instead proposed five images, each of which use a different strategy in their relationship with text. The strategies are:
Ekphrastic: The image is not described but can be inferred.
Nodal: Images that are re used over and again in different contexts
Incidental: Images that replicate age, wear and tear to connote authenticity.
Social: Images that illustrate our lived life.
Structural: (fig 1) Images, which are more akin to diagrams and reflect textual structure rather than narrative content.
Sinead Evans is a Lecturer at Norwich University and Editor of the illustration bi annual, Limner Journal. She suggests a skills-based Canon based on the following principles:
Friendship: To encourage collective working and supportive relationships.
Mediation: To bridge the gap between audience and subject.
Articulation: Clear ideas and the ability to communicate visually and verbally.
Discovery: Curiosity for new ideas, materials, processes and resources.
Reflection: Honest evaluation and the ability to embrace, and learn from mistakes.
Their holistic approach to forming a new Canon is more useful than indentifying individual practitioners, because the ideas are transferable, between projects and between disciplines, and it can evolve over time, with the aquisition of new knowledge, and the development of techniques, processes and platforms.