Illustrating Northeye : an exploration of time, matter, and movement at a historic wetland site

Fusco, Leah (2021) Illustrating Northeye : an exploration of time, matter, and movement at a historic wetland site. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Traditional approaches to reportage illustration in the UK are defined by what we can see. Rather than the classification of subject matter as visible or invisible, this thesis explores a scape ‘describing a wide view of a particular type’ (scape, n.d.) of visibility relating to the geographic, cultural, and historic appearances of the deserted medieval village of Northeye. Forming part of the Ramsar wetland Pevensey Levels, East Sussex, this transformative landscape has become a vehicle to critically respond to Embury and Minichiello’s definition of the reportage illustrator as ‘a particular kind of visual journalist, capturing the dynamics of unfolding events through their artwork. Reportage combines sketching the appearance of the scene as well as striving to understand and communicate a story through visual language.’ (Embury and Minichiello, 2018, p. 1). Positioning illustrative documentary as interpretive through multi method approaches to visual inquiry, this response is informed by fields of thinking originating from archaeology, cultural geography, and heritage studies. By conducting an expanded practical exploration of time, matter, and movement in relation to Northeye, the intersection of illustration and adjacent humanity disciplines is formalised in this thesis as a key contribution to knowledge in place research. It is described here as an area of hybrid practice ‘graphic humanities’ and consolidates a methodology for image making as both knowledge generation and communication. The thesis and resulting creative artefacts intend to bring illustration research into discourses surrounding heritage, identity, and place engagement in culturally underserved locations. By offering diverse ways of visualising the world, illustrators can define a distinct function in research environments and bring much needed knowledge and debate to the challenges, ethics, and impact of visual representation across professional, pedagogic, and public territories.

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