Thursday, 26 January 2012

Totem Research

'A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage or tribe' (Wikipedia)

'Each person has nine animal essences or totems that walk through life with them, teaching and guiding them and in some cases, protecting them' (

The totem that I propose to make would be a family or group of temptation elements found within the Grimm's fairy-tales. If I could find nine elements to utilise this will fit nicely with the second piece of research I found from The preliminary totem I have produced so far has six elements and so a further three elements would need to be found and produced.

I have found in other research that many of the fairy-tales do have a teaching and guiding theme as well as protection. For example the apple in Snow White teaches children to do as they are told and listen to worthy advice but she is protected by the seven dwarves, the wolf in Little Red Cap teaches children to stay away from potential danger and the radish in Rapunzel teaches children the consequences of stealing.

The temptation elements I have used so far are; the Apple from Snow White, the Spindle from Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), the Dove from Hansel and Grethel, the Radish from Rapunzel, the Frog from the Frog Prince and the Wolf from Little Red Cap. I have found further temptation elements in the Key from the Woodcutter's Child and the Mouse from Cat and Mouse in Partnership. I still need then a further temptation element to secure my nine elements to produce a totem.

The black and white drawing above is my preliminary totem made out of my original six elements, the further two will need to be added to make it more representative and a further elements will need to be found and added.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


So, I’ve decided that my Final Major Project requires an underpinning theme and theory to tie all three aspects together; the book covers re-design the puppets and costume. In my proposal I highlighted that I would be selecting one of the Grimm’s fairy-tales after I have finished the book cover re-design for Puffin which will link the two final aspects together, however, it would be nice to see a theme running through all three evidencing that they all follow on in succession rather than having three disjointed outcomes.
After researching the fairy-tales for just over a week I have noticed that there are some key themes running through many if not all of the stories. Themes such as greed and jealousy rear their ugly heads often and provide a good base for my underpinning theme but I’m struggling with how I would portray this in my final design. Instead, I have chosen to work with temptation. Temptation, unlike some of the other themes which I have highlighted, is not one of the seven deadly sins although it many ways it can be compared to lust; the emotional force which is associated with thinking about one’s desire and as seen in Snow White when she takes the apple from her wicked step-mother in disguise, the temptation of the apple leads to the lusting after it and thus eventually caving to this desire and taking a bite despite the dwarfs multiple warnings. Although I do think that researching the seven deadly sins could have a positive impact on my overall understanding of the stories.
Temptation then, is an act which looks appealing to an individual but which often has negative connotations and usually leads to negative emotions such as guilt and regret. I have found this underpinning theme in Rapunzel; where her mother was tempted by the radishes which grew in the witch’s garden but in return for the radishes the witch wanted their first child (Rapunzel), in Snow White; where Snow White was tempted by the lace which her wicked step-mother used to lace up her bodice much too tightly and resulted in her collapsing, the comb and the apple, in Little Red Cap; where the Little Red Cap is tempted by the wolf and in the original version strips for him and climbs in bed to be by his side and in the Golden Bird; where Dummling was tempted by other obstacles than what he should have been focusing on the complete his challenge amongst many others.
In discovering my underpinning theme, my critical theory can also now be established. I will be looking at Carl Jung, Lucian Freud and other psychoanalytical founders and their thoughts on fairy-tales, in particular the temptation aspects contained within. I will be looking more broadly at fairy-tales in addition to gain a better perspective and understanding of them as the institution which they now appear to have become and at Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Into The Woods’ production. To inform me with my puppet making I will be investigating Picasso’s theatre, Klee’s puppets and Hockney’s theatre, this in turn will also impact my research for costume design. Also, it would be interesting to look at how these lessons impact children when translated through fairy-tales.
My idea for the book cover re-design entry is to compose elements from the different fairy-tales and combine them in a totem pole. I have chosen the idea of the totem as it is a representation of a family and can then be manipulated to show the idea of a family of temptation that has enticed our main characters on their travels. It will be this underpinning temptation that will mesh the different elements together, in this it will be key to show how these elements are related (in their portrayal of temptation).
I need to keep in mind the lessons that I have learned from last semester too, with colour application, typography and integration of both the image and type seamlessly. If I can keep all of this in perspective then I think my chances of having a strong winning outcome will be exceptionally higher.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Final Major Project

Today I submitted my final, final, final plans for my final major project. This will last approximately eighteen weeks (including the two weeks for Easter break).

My proposal is as follows:
'An exploration of the fairy-tales of the Brothers Grimm with particular reference to the stories' underlying themes'
'I intend to produce a book cover to enter into the Puffin children's prize competition in relation to the fairy-tales of the Brothers Grimm. I would like to use my cover to illustrate the underlying themes which span across many stories which will not make my work overly literal of any one story. After this I will choose one of the stories to focus on where I will produce puppets to film a short play. Alongside this I will look at designing costumes for this chosen story as though it were being translated into a play. These costumes will not be visual representations but will also reference underlying themes'
'This proposal links to my graduation ambitions as it is aimed at a child friendly audience. After graduation I aim to secure a place on a primary PGCE or TESOL. If I were to continue in the illustration sector however, I would want to illustrate for a child audience/market as I enjoy the interaction and communication with younger children (primarily ages 6-8)'
'As I am interested in the underlying themes of the fairy-tales such as greed or jealousy etc. I will be looking at fairy-tales from a psych-analytical perspective. In this, I will be looking at Freud, Jung and Bruno Bettelheim's 'The uses of Enchantment'. Additionally, I will be researching the different forms a puppet can take and which form would best describe my underlying theme/s'
'My audience will primarily by children. It is for this reason that my work must by carefully executed as it may be an adult who purchases the final outcome for the child'
'A body of work showing experimentation with individual elements from a variety of the fairy-tales. A completed re-design of the Brothers Grimm cover for Puffin. A body of work exploring puppets and their different forms. A complete set of puppets for one of the fairy-tales and a short video clip of the fairy-tales being acted out. A body of work exploring costume design and how this can be manipulated to best describe the underlying themes. At least one completed costume'

This all sounds very well and good. I think that my aims are ambitious but still realistic... let us hope so, fingers crossed!