Amelia Johnstone

Amelia Johnstone

“Wonder has no opposite; it springs up already doubled in itself, compounded of dread and desire at once, attraction and recoil, producing a thrill, the shudder of pleasure and of fear. It names the marvel, the prodigy, the surprise as well as the responses they excite of fascination and inquiry; it conveys the active motion towards experience and the passive stance of enrapturement.”
-Marina Warner, 1996

Something incredibly inspired is conjured from this, my favourite quote, when trying to explain what it is about the world, about stories and about drawing pictures which enliven the illustrator’s mind so significantly. Illustration is a couplet of image and text, one next to, beside or inspired by the other, it is chiefly words which inspire the imagination to create the image. There is a process beyond the literal which makes the words and image do very separate things whilst lying next to each other. They are not in love with each other but are siblings with complementary or contradictory personalities. Sometimes they disagree, grow up or grow out of each other, other times they run away and become something else, or happily come home and converse again.

As in all things it is a metaphor which explains the point, it is an image realised that muddles the sense together to create new meaning. It is the teller and the told in one castle with separate wings, one for the aftermath of the imagination of the story and one for its conception.

What is really important about illustration however is that it can work both ways. You can start with words and end up with a picture, or begin with a picture and end up with words. Either way one cannot live happily without the other, once the process of picture-making has happened words spoken or written, ‘spring up already doubled in themselves’. The happy ever after is long ago and a long away thought when things end and no more begin. It is the content, not the wrapping up of it which creates ‘the active motion towards experience and the passive stance of enrapturement.’

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