Zemni Illustration

I am an illustrator, printmaker and photographer 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, why and at what cost? My image-making is a way of working through the darker side to come out the other end and ‘look on the bright side of life’.

 I work in a range of media combining drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and digital media. Some of my work is experimental, exploring different media and effects in response to a wide range of briefs.

Alongside my own artistic practice I support processes for collaborative art, photography, video and web communications as part of peoples’ own documentation of their lives.

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 the theme of ‘Documentary: observed and reflected’. It explores how an ‘alternative Zemni voice’ might affect different ways of portraying the world around me ‘at home’ in England. Ranging from expressive subjective responses to politics, economics and environment and more historical and cultural approaches to ‘Place’. It aims to :

  • explore what might be meant by my distinctive ‘Zemni Voice’ with a socio-political approach to reportage, landscape and life sketching.
  • establish professional-standard technical skills in a range of physical (drawing, painting and printmaking) and digital media (photography, Photoshop and NikFX, iPad painting and video animation in Adobe After Effects and Premiere).
  • 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 international and home audiences, markets and social networks for my work.
  • present my work in different formats:  cards, large posters and fine art prints, collaged books and on-line animated and interactive experiences.

1: Voice

Assignment 1 looks in more detail at my practice and personal voice underpinning my work in this course.

2: Edit and Amend: Visual Narrative (April 2019)

Assignment 2 focuses on ‘documentary near to home’ in East Anglia.

2.1 ‘Edges Revisited’ : Aldeburgh

Explores approaches to visual narrative through revisiting iPhone and iPad photographs, sketches, iPad images and diary from Illustration 2: From the Edge and Aldeburgh Sketchbooks . Drawing on discussions of psychogeography, it explores different conceptual approaches to what might be meant by ‘documentary of place’ and the overlaps between subjective and objective approaches. It demonstrates different techniques and styles in Lightroom, Photoshop and NikFX in processing iPhone and iPad images to produces four contrasting visual narratives in the form of photobooks: One Aldeburgh Morning, Carnival: the Great Aldeburgh Escape, From the Edge and Moot and Other Tales.

2.2 A British Landscape: Orford Ness

A new body of work on Orford Ness in Suffolk focusing on monochrome and limited palette photography styles using photo series taken in October 2018 on a DSLR camera. It draws on discussions in landscape and documentary photography and ways in which colour and monochrome digital processing can alter the meanings of the photographic image.

3: Text and Image: A Very ‘English’ Holiday St Ives (August 2019)

Assignment 3 takes a series of ‘psychogeograhic’ walks around St Ives, Cornwall as the basis for a set of ‘alternative’ text and image walking guides that will be animated in some way.

4: Audience: Two Journeys (December 2019)

Assignment 4 will continue my visual exploration of photographic and illustration media and styles, based on photographs of three car journeys from my professional work: Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire and Kyrgyzstan. Again the photography is of varying quality because of the type of camera and circumstances under which I was working. The assignment produces a range of outputs as:

  1. Ethiopia : A Fractured Journey a collage book in the style of Dan Eldon and on-line slideshow
  2. Kyrgyzstan: Dreams and Realities a black and white and a colour photobook on different aspects of the journey, and an on-line slideshow

5: Presenting my work (February 2020)

This final Assignment will finish the earlier assignments on Suffolk, St Ives, Ethiopia and Kyrgyzstan in the light of feedback. It will also:

  • ‘Wish You Were Here’ a set of fine art print series in different printmaking media adapted to ‘spirits of place’ (silkscreen, photo-lithography, woodcut, linocut, collagraph, drypoint and monoprint), also produced as postcards for marketing on-line.
  • River Reflections complete a new body of work as a book using sketches, prints, photographs and diary notes on the River Cam where I walk every day. Also with prints and cards as part of the Wish You Were Here set.

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.