Telling stories through art
When approached by Amanda Girvan of the Tauranga Women’s refuge with the idea of creating an Art Calendar to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence, my immediate thought was “NO!” A calendar has only a finite life and the pages are torn off, folded over and forgotten about after only 30 days. Yet these woman’s stories are indelible.
Motivated by the opportunity to use art as a tool to raise awareness, the concept came to mind of a sophisticated anecdotal art book in the style of Grimms’ Fairy tales; a high quality professional book that would grace any coffee table yet engages the reader in a gritty yet palatable way.
Grimms’ Fairy tales are a fitting inspiration for this project. Their tales reveal little about the external world, history, culture, class, or politics but do however have much to say in symbolic terms about violence, abuse, sexuality, fear and desertion and hopelessness.
The idea was developed to have real people, clients of the Tauranga Womens’ refuge partner with established illustrators/artists and authors.
Current clients of the refuge and others were encouraged to come forward and participate in this experimental and unprecedented project though social media. Simultaneously authors, artists and illustrators were approached to collaborate and contribute their talents to this project.
We deliberately avoided anything that would trivialise the issue, going for the ‘real grit’ thereby giving the authors the unenviable task of extracting painful experiences and translating the women’s and the children’s harrowing stories into sinister folkloric fables.
The artists were then tasked with the very difficult responsibility of illustrating the tales with exquisite dark vintage imagery, knowing they not only had to do justice to the Storyteller but to capture the ominous sense of darkness that these stories hold.
The Project team and Sponsors
We were very fortunate to have had the endorsement of the ANZ Staff foundation who believed in this project and their grant enabled us to commission a team of wonderful experts including several designers and a very patient and experienced editor to help drive this book to be the highest quality product we could wish for.
Our photographer, the 13 authors, 13 artists and designers and the Incubator have committed themselves as volunteers of their wonderful talent and time.
Simone Anderson . Director – The Incubator –Growing Art & Culture.