Let's Face It Week 7 - Rising from the Ashes

 For week seven of LFI 2021 (still working on the theme of story/novel/book), we had a class with Tracy Verdugo, who was inspired by the children's book illustrations of Mexican artist Rodolfo Morales. 

Tracy showed us how she created a piece to tell a story from her own memories, starting with collage for the background and then using pens, acrylic paints and inks to add her focal image. 

I decided this was a perfect opportunity to tell a story that's been in my mind for many years, so I started off along the same track, but went off the rails a bit as my picture progressed, coming back to it over the course of three or four days. Here's how it finished up ...

This is my impression of the absolute devastation caused when the bomb dubbed "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945. Two days later "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki. I won't even try to put into words how I feel about this or to imagine how it must have felt for those who survived - many of them with appalling injuries and many only to die years later from the effects of radiation poisoning. 

Some years ago, I visited the Pollocks Toy Museum in London with my son Tom. A wonderful place, stuffed to the rafters with toys and childhood memorabilia. One exhibit which had a huge impact on me was a little book, like an small journal, open to a page where someone had stuck some tiny folded paper cranes. The accompanying text explained that they were made by the children in hospital after the bombing of Hiroshima, using the colourful wrappers from candy given to them by the American soldiers. There is a legend in Japan that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, you will have a wish granted, so they have become a symbol of hope. I was so moved to think of these children who had lost so much, making cranes and still having hope amidst all of the pain and devastation. Ever since, I've had this picture in my mind, with the colourful cranes rising against a background of grey ruins. 

It felt good to finaly commit it to paper. Here are some pictures showing how it progressed, beginning with collaging various papers and scraps on to my background ...

I picked out lots of different weights and textures - tissue, painted papers, magazines, book pages and anything else lurking in my collage drawers - sticking to a palette of ash and rust colours. These were either torn or roughly cut and laid out as I went along. I didn't sketch first, but I took inspiration from photos taken at the time. Many of these photos were hidden and survived despite strict censorship by the occupying forces and can now been seen at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Once the page was filled, I added clear and white gesso and then went back in with coloured pencils and charcoal to add details and depth. Finally, I drew the little girl and cut the cranes from patterned paper and added these to the scene. I may go back with some words later, but can't decide yet what I want to say or whether the picture says it all. 


Wow, this is just fantastic Annie! Even the previous steps look amazing!
Unknown said…
Its amazing and the story very moving. Looking at it with Chris...he is keeps saying how brilliant it is !!