Think of A City: we live side by side with the past

Some time ago artist Alison Sampson asked me to be part of her and Ian MacEwan’s on-going project: Think of a City: a mass storytelling project ‘to experience this city of the imagination, told page by page, by storytellers from around the world.’

Artist and writers are matched up and given time slots in which to produce the work. Alison hooked me up with Pablo Clark, a half-Scottish, half-Spanish illustrator and comic book artist.

I offered him a variety of four ideas, and the one he engaged with most was my favourite, which was an immediate pleasure.

The concept was to evoke how we move through the past in cities in a concrete fashion every day, and how the people who created those buildings and neighbourhoods are part of our realm of daily activity.

I suggested a fixed city street scene, with buildings from a variety of time periods and influences, and women from various historical eras and ethnicities in different portals – window frames or arches – to represent the people from the past who helped build and shape the city.

In response to that Pablo sent me two thumbnails, and we went with this one:

I loved the idea of the panels with the women in them floating out, comic book style, over the city, and adding the layer of a graduation from night to day from the top to the bottom of the image.

We discussed some minor details, and Pablo set about the hard work of realising the concept.

The next image I got was this:

To which there is little to add, except, ‘wow!’ and ‘carry on!’

And yesterday I received the following artwork – you can see it fully realised on the Think of a City web site.

It’s a beautiful piece of art and I have enjoyed pouring over it and looking at all the details. It’s a credit to Pablo’s dedication and talent that he invested so much time in the piece.

If you want to follow Pablo he’s on Twitter, and if you want to order a print of the artwork you can do so here.

This is one the great joys of working in collaboration with an artist: the call and response you get to work. Ideas develop and evolve as people communicate and create. At its best it’s a wonderful act of communal creativity.

Thanks to Alison and Ian for asking me to contribute, and to Pablo for his gorgeous work of art.

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