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The damage that decorates

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A wounded city can yield both sites of affect and relic-like objects. The vestiges of Plymouth's blitzed past is inscribed within the pattern and patina of place. This inscription can become overlooked with the passage of time and the fast movement of people through cityscape. By slow looking, stretching a glance into an encounter, witness marks have opportunity to communicate and temporally suture the urban landscape.

In this paper, I unravel the terms 'decoration' and 'ornamentation' through the lens of trauma studies and present occurrences of disrepair as worthy of consideration. I put forward how damage can behave as decoration and why such illustrative terminology is empathetic to the structures decorated by it. Focusing on a selection of ceramics damaged by the aerial bombardment, I explore the ways these artefacts speak to the present through their scars and how they are mimetic of their wounded city. Through a practice-based Ph.D., I employ illustration as a historiographic arts practice and attempt to unlock other ways of knowing which are always already at work within a city's fragments and disregarded sites.
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Keywords: blitz; breakage; damage; decoration; ornament; trace; trauma; urban

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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