Odyssey: The Impossibility of the Journey

Lillie, Rachel [Artist] (2014) Odyssey: The Impossibility of the Journey. House of Illustration Illustrator in Resident. .


Rachel Lillie is House of Illustration’s first Illustrator in Residence. This exhibition is the outcome of the six months that she has spent here, sketching, researching and experimenting. During her residency, Lillie has witnessed the opening of this new public space. She has documented every stage of its development, from construction work to people visiting the building for the first time. In Odyssey Lillie combines her notes and drawings with a meditation on what it means to go on a journey. The ‘Hero’s Journey’ is a story structure that many myths from different times and places follow. A character (hero) leaves their home and enters a strange world where they face challenges. Sometimes they are rewarded for their efforts, and then they must choose whether or not to return home. Lillie has translated her time at House of Illustration into ‘The Journey’, the ambitious voyage of an anonymous explorer, our ‘hero’. She presents here his ‘homecoming’; his coat is hanging up, a travel journal is open and souvenirs are arranged. The explorer’s objects and illustrated memories are fused with symbolic elements; a courageous lion, a useless map, a threatening flood. On his return, Lillie’s explorer has not reached a heroic conclusion. He feels lost, and longs to undertake his expedition again. In Odyssey, Lillie celebrates the process of illustration as a journey, rather than presenting a ‘grand’ final outcome. "Where all is known, no narrative is possible” Cormac McCarthy House of Illustration’s Illustrator in Residence programme is made possible through generous support from The Barbara and Philip Denny Trust.

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