Waking, this morning, to a flurry of post-it notes and to-do lists, before crawling through the debris of projects in mid-realisation, I find myself up against time, and I pause – briefly, to think about where I am now.
Creating Diabetes: Year One not only allowed my thoughts about medicine to develop, but also provoked my illustrative approach. I’ve touched on sequence and colour in other blogs, but a key feature of the thinking process of the comic, was to find a way to polish my slightly wonky sketch style. Additionally, I suspect, as a response to spending a lot of time with myself as subject matter, it felt good to look at the world outside for a bit.
Cityscapes, urbanisation and landscapes have always fascinated me. The depiction of what is around me and the imagination of new worlds and places are ways of exercising the mind, whilst zooming into the details of logic and chaos; it is a way of thinking in wide-screen but working in close-up. I began the project City Tales as a personal project, a way to dive into the idea of place using methods and ideas from exploring graphic-medicine – and in particular a way to consider Cities as narrative. My first of these projects was Newcastle (technically Northumberland, Newcastle and Gateshead) [fig.1] – where I lived for 18 years. The sequence allows for a journey across the landscape – the frames providing snapshots for the viewer to impose their own narratives alongside my own memories and affections. The graphic colouring asks the viewer to reflect on the spaces around them, making them recognisable places, and I hope to imbue a sense of the rhythm of the Toon, through the way that the places pop out of the frame and ask the viewer to join in.
Using frames in this way encourages me to consider the power of perspective and viewpoint, but also ask the reader to consider what happened to get them from an evening in the theatre, to the top of the castle, looking down on the cathedral? Newcastle is a city which lets you fill in the blanks in many ways.
I’ve always loved the sensation of discovering a new place, of going from not knowing where you are, to knowing what’s around the next corner. It’s a key part of the experience of travel to me. In creating the City Tales project, I am finding joy in the planning and engaging with the specifics of a building in the context of the wider city – the geography of relations. A mapping that is internal, then external, personal, and collaborative.
I’m currently working on a Manchester version [fig.2 & 3], where I’ve been for the last two and half years, and planning versions for other cities from my experience, which at the moment include: London, Bristol, Durham, York, Cardiff and Edinburgh – but the plans are fluid at the moment, and other work calls in the meantime.