I was given a bit of information about Cicely Mary Saunders, some recent examples of Google Doodles created to celebrate similarly brilliant women, and the dimensions for the artwork. After that it was a very open brief, which was very exciting to explore lots of ideas! Throughout the project the feedback and advice was fantastic and really helped the artwork’s direction. Because of the subject matter, the nature of the work Saunders dedicated her life to, I felt it was important to do as much research as possible. This led me to discover the wide variety of symbolism that could be incorporated into the brief, as well as the overall mantra that Saunders lived and worked by.
The first roughs were quite far removed from the final artwork. I was focusing heavily on symbolism, but I think it’s a subject that can’t so quickly be interpreted when it’s stripped back. Once I started thinking about it more literally, which was suggested by the amazing Google Doodle team, it was a stronger concept.
I think having researched so much about Saunders' work meant that two quotes stuck out in my mind. Saunders said: ‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.’ Which seems like such a hopeful, positive approach to a very sad time for many people. The idea of enjoying all the time you have left made me think of having surroundings that everyone would enjoy. Soft colours, quilted bed spreads, paintings on the walls, a happy outlook from a window, flowers, keepsakes from your own home -photos of loved ones. Another quote was from ‘All in the End is Harvest: An Anthology for Those Who Grieve,’ a book edited by Agnes Whitaker. Saunders is known for her praise of this book, and the poem ‘All in the end is Harvest’ so very eloquently implies that a person’s life doesn’t finish when they pass away, they live on in their loved ones, it brings hope. This made me want to include a view of a field of corn, a happy view for the patient, and a symbol of the circle of life. I did play with the idea of a bird’s nest, the egg and the nest and the circle shape and what they represent, but the field was a stronger nod to Saunders. Saunders also felt the environment of the Hospice should be homely and comforting, so the setting was easy to imagine.
It was a little tricky! But I loved the challenge and I loved experimenting with such an iconic design! I wrote the text separately, drew it with tree branches, picture frames and hidden in the wallpaper, but I think having it below the image separately allowed the text and image the space they needed to be considered by the viewer.
I did enjoy the picture frames sketch (above), but again this wasn’t so clear as a concept to summarise Saunder’s work, although I did find that one fun to sketch! In a way I wonder if that’s more sad as an idea, a person’s life summed up in a few frames, than the image that was the final artwork. It also meant Saunders could be included in the image, representing the care behind the Hospice.
I have some really exciting books publishing next year, including LITTLE BEAR’S SPRING written by Elli Woollard, publishing with Macmillan Children’s Books, & TOOTH FAIRY IN TRAINING written by Michelle Robinson, publishing with Walker Books (cover reveals below!). I'm particularly proud of both of these books.
I have also recently signed a 2-book deal with US publishers, Schwartz & Wade, and cannot wait to start working on my own author-illustrated picture books with them.