The Elephant Man

Local Universe, Visual Research

After drawing people observationally within the Local Universe, and recording not only them but their conversations too, we were given the task in the studio of collating all the information in order to create and develop a character. I was pretty much stumped. Drawing people and figures is already out of my comfort zone so naturally I just couldn’t think of where to go with all the information I had. And I wasn’t the only person in the studio to struggle with this. It was then suggested that we research someone in the local universe, collecting photos, quotes and paintings of them and using that to then create a series of 5 images linked by a narrative.

Researching the Whitechapel area led me to discover Joseph Merrick, more commonly known as The Elephant Man, whose story and deformities intrigued me. Especially when I read that his relation to the area was that he had was exhibited in a shop window as a human curiosity. Whilst trying to develop a narrative, I thought about the transition he made from looking ordinary to becoming deformed and I explored this in my illustrations merging the image of an ordinary man with that of an abstract, abnormal face. I thought these were particularly successful because i experimented with inks for the first time, and not knowing how to use them, my drawings flowed and were effortless and quick yet retained an amount of detail that was captivating.

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