By Dom Conlon
There was plenty of wind, and even more hot air, in evidence at June’s SCBWI NW Sketch & Scrawl event. Expertly guided by Anna Violet and Marie Basting, the aim was to show us how illustration can be used to mark key observations for later use in storytelling.
Our day began with an introduction to Aboriginal story sticks - devices which served as a kind of narrative driven map. Carved or painted in a left / right, left / right pattern, the sticks would tell others the story of a journey.
|Catherin and Marie with their story sticks|
Armed with a sheet of card and without the aid of any peyote, we were sent outdoors into the balmy (not barmy) Manchester streets to map a short journey by sketching anything that struck us as interesting. Whilst most of us only managed to raise our illustrative skills to the level of 'scrawl’, the observations all yielded a rich interpretation of our physical surroundings. Gothic detail, gout-faced workmen, trams, lamps, leaves, and a whole underbelly of the city's less celebrated sights, were noted down with caveman-like enthusiasm.
Then, when safely back in one of Central Library's finest caves, we began to create the story equivalent of the sample heavy music you might have raved to down the road at the Hacienda, twenty years ago. Working in groups of two or three, we took it in terms to link our observations together in a daisy chain of increasing madness. It was huge fun to get our own details to follow on from that of the previous person. The results were hilarious, absurd, engaging, and every level of surreal in between.
|They make us chuckle!|
This was a truly rewarding exercise. Using a physical journey to kickstart our imaginations produced fascinating results, not only at the workgroup level but even (certainly for me) during the journey itself as I found myself falling into a rough narrative as I looked around.
Aside from the pleasure of continuing story strands from others, there were images throughout with genuine potential for further exploration. Thank you to both Anna and Marie for a stimulating day that certainly blew the cobwebs away.
Dom Conlon is a writer and space poet who shares his work through www.inkology.co.uk.