Stephanie Black

Plume of Feathers: Exploration the Contemporary Moon Under Water Through Illustration


This paper will explore illustrative response to urban landscapes, their meaning determined by human use and illustration’s role in reconfiguring this by presenting alternative representations.

It is based on and will show parts of a research-led project on the decline of the public house in the UK, which takes the form of visual essays projected with the live performance of a ‘concept album’ on this theme (not prog!). This presentation will examine the relationship between illustration, subject matter and companion piece (music) and by doing so will employ theoretical perspectives concerned with ‘open works’ and nostalgia in order to articulate the contribution to the project made by the projections. The practice discussed operates as informed voice within the conversation, regularly offering a counterpoint to create illustration that welcomes critical thinking in response to the diverse perspectives presented. This is made painfully relevant to recent European political events through the discussion of the role of nostalgia in relation to the dominant representations of the pub in circulation. And this renforces the need for informed illustration to help us question, understand and contribute to the post-Brexit, post-factual world we live in.

The process of working through the project will also be scrutinised, for it contributes to the discussion of the role of research for practice and its status as “little r” research by Scrivener (2010). By outlining the articulation of perspectives and counterarguments through illustration in the project overview, the argument will be made for a less fixed categorisation of research on, in, and for practice as outlined by Borgdorff (2010). The paper will conclude by making the case that illustration fuelled by sound research for practice is then able to offer new apprehensions of its subject matter back to the world it belongs within. Which is the point, really.

Stephanie Black puts pictures and words together, and could be described as a practitioner-researcher in illustration. She completed a practice-led Ph.D. at the University of the West of England (Bristol) and currently lectures at Plymouth University. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, works to commission, and is also co-editor of an online drawing research project called Hatch. Stephanie also writes about illustration, focusing on the methods employed and theoretical territory it traverses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s