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Decriminalising Ornament: The Pleasures of Pattern: The sympathy of illustration

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This article reflects on the research exhibition Decriminalising Ornament: The Pleasures of Pattern held in the Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge in November 2018 in conjunction with the International Illustration Research Conference of the same name. It considers the role of ornament and decoration in the exhibited works and through this the essential presence of the decorative within illustration.

Key is Lars Spuybroek's concept of sympathy, which he develops based on a premodern understanding of ornamentation. In response to Spuybroek's exploration of this concept, this article seeks to extend the notion of sympathy as an essential presence within illustration. Sympathy indicates a human-material relationship not just between the illustrator and the creative materials, but also in the readers connection with this decorative act in the reproduced illustration.
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Keywords: decorative; human‐material relationship; illustration; illustration research; ornamentation; pattern; sympathy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Illustration is a rapidly evolving field with an excitingly broad scope. Despite its cultural significance and rich history, illustration has rarely been subject to deep academic scrutiny. The Journal of Illustration provides an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical, and contemporary issues, in relation to illustration. The journal encourages new critical writing on illustration, associated visual communication, and the role of the illustrator as visualizer, thinker, and facilitator, within a wide variety of disciplines and professional contexts.

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