Creative Review - Book Recommendation

Company of liars is a fantastic novel, set in 14th Century England, and amidst the engulfing onslaught of the plague we meet the story's narrator, gradually becoming swept up by the relationships between the small group of travellers, each with their secrets, and all trying the escape the plague's spread, hoping to find somewhere untouched where they may be accepted, despite their mysterious pasts. 

I absolutely loved this book as it encompasses so many elements of intrigue from a time long forgotten, filled with concepts which are lost upon modern society. It's this sort of novel which I enjoy getting lost in. While the story itself was fascinating, the way it is written is equally important. A book can have a brilliant plot, but executed badly and it does nothing for me. I don't like to be reminded that I'm reading, I prefer writing which is seamless and allows you to be drawn in. 

Filled with relics, folklore and slowly unwinding mysteries, Company of Liars is a hard book to put down, and I found Karen Maitland's writing conjured up powerful imagery of Medieval England.

Creative Review

On Thursday we were due to have our first Creative Review as a group in uni, where we were each to bring in:

- a recent article of interest relating to design or our particular practice
- a book recommendation
- a film recommendation.

I'd been really looking forward to this, as I find it interesting to see what kind of things motivate or inspire others; I suppose it's an aspect of blogging and 'tweeting' which is appealing, being able to get a sneak peak into other people's processes. But, I missed out, having caught the bug going round at the moment. Joy. So, this is just a little post on my recommendations / reviews, and I might go a little crazy and post a few recommendations, as I found it pretty hard to narrow it down!

Two articles, both from Varoom (15), interested me most amongst those that I found.
The first, a piece written by Esther Dudley ( a Lecturer at the University of Plymouth and founding member of Varoom Lab), focuses upon her discovery of a lone fragment of illuminated text: the letter 'H'.


Through her research into illuminated texts, Dudley deduces that, due to the lack of embellishment, application of gold and the fact that it is decoratively patterned, as opposed to illustrated, this 'H'

"...could be described as a utilitarian decorative flourish: very useful for the location of one's place in the score, when sharing the book with a group of choristers in a dimly lit church. It may well have come from a humbler church or abbey with fewer resources for choir book embellishment. It might also indicate that the hymn was composed for a specific feast day or service, in some haste, requiring a speedy response by the illustrator or scribe".

I particularly enjoyed this small article, as it highlighted the fact that, despite an image being removed from its description, the text or source of what it's illustrating, we are still able to interpret its meaning and origins, even if it does take a lot of piecing bits together.

As Dudley mentioned at the beginning of her article, using a quote from William Morris, 'stated in his first public lecture The Lesser Arts':

"...history has become a book from which the pictures have been torn.".

I think this is partly what I love about history, what makes historical imagery and artifacts all the more interesting: the interpretation. 

The other article I chose:

"Lacking Vision - As illustration and design departments in England prepare for an unprecedented withdrawal of government funding, Des McCannon uncovers the deep-rooted cultural prejudices shaping education, and asks whether traditional text-based educational practices are relevant for an image-based culture."

This fascinating examination of the way image-making is used within education today, looks at how it has yet to be fully accepted, despite there being obvious 

'benefits of drawing [being] embedded in the curriculum' and how it 'fires children's imaginations, sparks an interest in learning, inspires learning across the curriculum, illuminates complex information in an accessible way, increases children's visual literacy and confidence, and includes all learners regardless of background, ability and language.'

McCannon emphasises the need for there to be more of a compromise between the existing curriculum and the incorporation of pictorial learning, due to its obvious benefits as a learning aide, as well as making learning itself, interesting to a youth who's culture is predominantly image-based. She states that "this needs to be funded and supported however, and in the current economic climate this seems unlikely.". 

Go read it.

Mmkay, this has become a lengthy post so I think I'll end this one here and pop my book and film recommendations on separate posts, as there's a fair bit I'd like to write about each of those!

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