Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Philip J Jones: Illustrating the Pitt Rivers

'Crafty Networking' returns to Pitt Rivers Museum this week on Thursday 24th October - a chance for craftspeople and artists to meet, share ideas and network over a glass of wine in the inspirational surroundings of the galleries. Guest speaker at this event is illustrator Philip J Jones who will be talking about his career and practice. Here, he gives us a little insight into his current work...

Illustrator’s studios are busy in autumn. My personal workspace, to set the scene, is a non-weather proof, half pint-sized room in an attic which comprises of a rickety wooden desk, pen, paper and an antiquated Mac Computer which mostly serves now as a coffee table. The various houseplants have claimed most of the room as their own. Illustrators these days have the benefit of being able to work from nearly anywhere. Christmas is on the horizon, designs need redesigning, promotion events need promoting, networks need networking, and requests for robin drawings are flocking in.

One illustration project in particular has got me excited. One of Oxford’s finest establishments and one of my favourite hangouts has tasked me with some work. The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, one of the world’s finest collections of anthropology and world archaeology, has asked me to deliver a talk on freelance illustration as part of their Crafty Networking series, teaming up with the O3 Gallery and Darn It and Stitch. They have also invited me to work with the VERVE: Need / Make / Use project to produce an illustration in response to the collections in the museum.

Phase one: research. Armed with my small armada of sharpened pencils, my trusted notepad and a camera, I began my expedition into the heart of the Pitt Rivers. An awesome hunting ground for inspiration and ideas, the institution was bursting with treasures. After a full day of trekking though the museum and carefully laying my plans I had barely scratched the surface of the illustrative potential of this archive of wonders.

Resisting the urge to go straight to those shrunken heads, there were several artefacts that stood out for me. Those delightful rhinoceros hornbills: a fusion of the ornate and fauna, as well as the history of how they had been viewed in the past, peaked my interest. 

Rhinoceros hornbill, Malaysia, collected 1920s PRM 1970.17.1
© Pitt Rivers Museum

I came up with several potential drafts of what to produce and a few key themes emerged including Japanese masked gods, Native American fertility dolls and ghostly, ghoulish figures which had derived from a rain coat. 

'Cow Kachina' doll, Hopi people, Arizona, USA
PRM 2001.66.4 © Pitt Rivers Museum

Furnished now in the studio with my modest dip pen and a well of ink I have been (between preparing for the Christmas season of redesigning, promoting and networking) focusing my energies on working on the final piece, each night pondering whether or not my illustrations will give justice to the beautiful and mystifying items of antiquity found at the Pitt Rivers Museum....

Philip J Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let us know what you think...