design contest no. 9, visualizing verse: the narrative of illustration
This contest is part of a research project that investigates the relationship between and verbal and the visual; more specifically, to what extent an image (or a set of images) can effectively capture the essence of a text, and how this process of illustration occurs.
To this end we have chosen a particularly evocative poem and we are inviting artists from all over the world to come up with an illustration of this text — as ‘literal’ as possible, in visual terms, to the text.
The poem is unfamiliar and is presented anonymously so that the artist’s response is not conditioned by preexisting knowledge.
The unmade bed
She sits on the unmade bed, just right
of centre, with something in her hands.
Her dark hair hangs in one long pigtail
down over her right shoulder, the left
her white nightie, décolleté, leaves bare.
Her dropped face, that winsome, downward stare.
On the floor near her naked, crossed feet
are two petite brown boots: one lies flat,
the other toes a blur of paper.
If the scene were contemporary,
she could be holding some flash iPad
or iPhone. She could be listening
to Leonard Cohen, Gillian Welch.
But this almost homely bedsit – wood-
ceilinged, clothes flopped on chair, wash-basin
tucked away in the hearth (what’s that shoe
doing on the crumbling mantelpiece?) –
must surely be nineteenth century.
Not English though with that crucifix
hazy behind the open shutter.
Continental? Some provincial
French town, perhaps. A miniature,
that’s what she is holding: his picture.
Does the paper – a letter? – announce
he’s died or loves another (“Ma chère
Lisette …”)? Could that black aquascutum,
angled beside the chest of drawers,
have been his? His features swim, she feels
his touch, quickens, finds her mind go numb.
Sunlight slants through the window, catches
the pretty, floral bedspread, picks out
a painting above it on the wall.
Shadows. Steps. A locked embrace. She wears
a blue dress, he a red cape, jaunty
plume in his cap. She is leaning back
to receive a last, quick, lunging kiss.
This is how it should have, should have, been.
Not here, alone on an unmade bed,
in this room, bright, sad, slightly shabby.
Each entry must be accompanied by the artist’s explanatory commentary (250 words maximum).
The top ten entries will be included in an academic publication.
The terms and conditions of entry are that the submitted work may be used in academic presentations and publications; copyright remains with the artist
Prize: $500US for the winner.
See the full requirements here.