Entry for the Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2012, in response to the theme ‘Tales of Magical Objects’.
Original size: 42 x 29.7 cm
‘One for sorrow…’ depicts a single magpie, notorious for their love of sparkly and attractive small objects; surrounded by his collection of magical amulets and charms, which he has collected to ward off the sorrow he inevitably brings. The magpie’s nest sits in an oak tree, which is traditionally thought to be home to the Thunder God, hence the stormy sky brewing in the background. Each amulet and charm hanging from the branches have their own individual significance; such as a small carved wooden shoe representing the path of life, a bottle of mercury which was thought to be a cure for rheumatism; and various seahorses which were sold ‘for luck’.
This illustration is a response to the CIA2012‘s theme ‘Tales of Magical Objects’, which asked for the entrants to use the fantastic Pitt Rivers Museum’s ‘Amulets and Charms’ collection as a starting point. I was also inspired by a previous visit to an exhibition called ‘Charmed Life’, held at the Welcome Trust, London. The exhibition displayed a vast collection of amulets and charms amassed by Edwardian collector Edward Lovett who acquired 1400 amulets from working-class areas of Edwardian London. While the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collection holds a wealth of fascinating objects from all over the world, I felt it was also important to represent the narrative of how magic, superstition and charms are interpreted closer to home in the UK. I immediately thought of the magpie, an important British symbol with strong connotations of magic, superstition and the power to bring bad or good luck. The magpie shares many of the characteristics as an amulet or charm with it’s reputation developed over years of folkloric storytelling and legend. As the old folklore rhyme goes ‘One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy’.
‘One for sorrow…’ is a mixture of fine hand drawing in pen, watercolour and inky grounds and digital layering.
One for sorrow…
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