Zemni Illustration

Zemni Illustration is a blog of Linda Mayoux, an illustrator based in Cambridge, UK.

Image-making is a necessary part of my own process of making sense of life in our sometimes beautiful, but often insane world. In my ‘parallel life’ as global consultant in participatory development in Africa, Asia and Latin America I meet many wonderful, inspiring people. I see stunningly beautiful scenery – human rural and urban landscapes as well as ‘wild natural’ remote environments. I also see many shocking examples of violence, exploitation, environmental degradation, waste and powerlessness. The more I travel, the more questions I bring back about life at home  – where are our ‘developed’ lives trying to get to and why? 

 I work in a range of media combining drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and digital media. Aiming to provoke people – including myself – to think more deeply about how we are using our lives. Moving beyond angst, anger and ‘compassion fatigue’ to some laughter, appreciation of beauty in everyday things and respect for the common humanity in all of us. To inspire all of us to get up each morning and try and make our world a more just and sustainable place for everyone.

Zemni Illustration blog brings together my work, research and thoughts for Open College of the Arts Visual Communications level 3 module: Advanced Practice.

My work for this module focuses on different approaches to documentary illustration, drawing on discussions in documentary photography and reportage illustration. Using a combination of life reportage and drawing together with photography and video, it aims to :

  • establish a distinctive ‘Zemni Voice’ with a socio-political approach to reportage, documentary illustration, landscape and life sketching.
  • establish professional-standard technical skills in a range of physical (drawing, painting and printmaking) and digital media (photography and animation).
  • look at a range of ways of integrating text and image to produce images that question established ways of seeing and thinking
  • explore a range of different audiences, markets and social networks for my work.
  • present my work in different formats:  cards, large posters and fine art prints, short book and on-line animated experiences.

This continues the concern with the multi-layered nature of experience of places and interplay of subjectivity and observation and the role of humour, metaphor and symbolism in communication of political messages. It takes these questions further in relation to:

  • ‘whose documentary’ are we talking about and why? how do we work with other people to get multiple perspectives both in terms of information and feedback
  • how do potentially conflicting perspectives modify the message
  • what are the strengths and challenges of communicating the ‘message’ – photographs (referential but subjective selection and editing), photocollage and photomontage (possibilities for juxtaposition and multi-layered questioning), illustration and printmaking (possibilities for invention), video and interactive presentation
  • how best to disseminate the document and engage with the audience to make a difference

I work on three contexts: Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and Philippines where I have a good stock of photographs and local contacts from my consultancy work, and where I can potentially see a politically important role for my illustration alongside my professional consultancy work. The module will also build on drawings and information from women and men in each country, linked to my work on textless visual communication on empowerment in Visual Research Module.

1: Voice

Assignment 1 looks in more detail at my practice and personal voice underpinning my work in this course. It outlines the types of political and visual communications discussions I want to explore in developing my ‘Zemni voice’ from OCA courses and my professional work. I establishes a plan of skills development to significantly improve the technical  standard of my work across the range of existing and some new media I am interested in exploring. And brings together my currently very diverse work and media experimentation from earlier OCA Visual Communications courses into a more coherent vision and creative visual approach as an illustrator.

1.1 Personal Statement

1.2 Skills and media

1.3 Creative process

1.4 What’s Next

2: Ethiopia Journey revisited

This first part of the course revisits my final assignment for Illustration 2 to both increase the depth of thinking about what I am trying to say and the technical quality of my illustration work. Considering also how my identity as a Western woman might affect what I see, what I draw and how I draw it and incorporating cultural and environmental perspectives.

Assignment 2a: Oromia: a fractured journey focuses on photo-collage drawing on insights from other collage artists like Romare Beardon, Hannah Hoch

Assignment 2b Amend: Ethiopia: painted lives focuses on drawings and painting from photographs inspired by reportage, documentary and satirical illustrators.

3: Image and Text:  Kyrgyzstan Perspectives

4: Audience: Why Duterte?

5: Presenting my work

This final Assignment will review my ‘Zemni voice’ in the light of work during this module and the Visual Research Module. A key focus will be development of animation skills in Adobe After effects and Animate for on-line presentation on a new Zemni You Tube channel as well as other social networks. It will:

  • produce a series of attractive Greetings Cards that might be interesting for an audience interested in international development
  • produce a series of three short e-books and/or print books in the style of Dan Eldon from the images and narratives on Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and Philippines
  • produce on-line animated versions or tasters in After Effects or Premiere to be posted on a new Zemni You Tube channel
  • produce a series of fine art prints from the most interesting images and ideas
  • develop a number of possible future project outlines, one of which would be selected for the final ‘Sustaining Your Practice’ module.

Other blogs and websites

This Zemni Illustration blog complements and links to my other blogs and websites:

  • Zemni Images blog a portfolio site which showcases the best work from my previous and current Visual Communications courses.
  • Visual Communication for Development  looking at issues in my professional work in international development  for the OCA Visual  Research course.
  • Zemni Printmaking being developed and updated from my OCA printmaking courses.
  • Zemni Photography from OCA photography courses I tool as a leisure student
  • Zemni Images professional website which houses high resolution images of my Visual Communications portfolios and my photography portfolios and archives.
  • Gamechange Network consultancy blog which houses and links outputs from the different projects and partners I have worked with.