More Than Oliver Twist

Commissioned Illustration work for The Workhouse Network for More Than Oliver Twist on Google Arts and Culture

The illustrations and visual design work created for More Than Oliver Twist constitute a visual expression of the unique and varied lives of the six people the biographical research explores. The visual work has been shaped by a highly collaborative process. The biographical illustrations were created in response to the radio show audio pieces and were instrumentally informed by volunteers’ experiences, museum collections, the research material and fabric of the workhouse buildings at each site.

The researcher’s personal connections to particular objects, textures, architectural features, historical or biographical details, or personal anecdotes connected to the project all fed into creating each biography’s unique visual identity. This information was generated through a series of interviews with researchers connected to each of the biographies during the Covid 19 Pandemic and national lockdown.

The biographical illustrations utilised distinctive shapes drawn from this collaborative research process and the six different color palettes were responsively designed in a similar manner. The six radio pieces visually develop the radio show as a metaphor for oral history across time. Each vintage radio design is unique which reflects the diversity of the experiences of the people all referred to as “paupers” who all lived in a workhouse in 1881. The handmade felt lettering is a tactile reminder of their individuality and reflects sensory experiences they may have shared by using Workhouse textiles.

By collaborating with a range of researchers, volunteers, and staff across the sites, the six illustrations and broader design work visually encapsulate the rich connection between collective social narrative and personal experience. Collecting physical and digital resources from the different sites not only created a bank of visual reference material that informed this exhibition but also constitutes a kind of creative visual archive.

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