Graduates 2021: Alice Cathcart: Sequential Design/Illustration

My aim is to encourage a shift in perspective, revealing plants as the dynamic characters that they are.

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

 Currently, in my work I am exploring the way in which human beings perceive the botanical world and their relationship to it. In my final project, through the format of a picture book, I addressed the phenomenon of ‘plant blindness’ and whether the awareness of plants could be heightened by reframing the way they are portrayed in storytelling. I am influenced by the way plants have been depicted in art (historically and culturally), ideas surrounding plant sentience, and the use of the visual devices associated with the Romantic Sublime and Surrealism, as a means to dislodge the anthropocentric gaze.

My aim is to encourage a shift in perspective, revealing plants as the dynamic characters that they are.

Plants are frequently overlooked in storytelling. We rarely hear people telling tales of a slime mould or cacti in the same way they would a tiger or a bear, because plants, at least in western culture, tend not to occupy an emotional space in the human imagination. They are often seen as ornament, the luscious green background to the bustling commotion of human life in the fore. Where in fact, if we look more closely, we can see they are bound up with almost every aspect of our lives; they are our breath, our medicine, clothes, food, our life force. And if we look closer still, we can see botanical beings living lives so fantastical that even the greatest author would struggle to dream them up.


How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

Studying through the pandemic has been tough and isolating at times. Yet it has also been fulfilling and has certainly been instrumental in helping me to develop a way of working that is constant and habitual. I have been lucky enough to have had the guidance of some truly incredible tutors, who have helped me navigate through the course and bolster my confidence in my abilities as an illustrator and writer.


How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Sequential Design/Illustration

The Sequential Design/Illustration course appealed to me because of its wonderfully diverse cohort and inspiring tutors. I wanted to refine the practice of combining image and text, specifically in the form of a picture book, so the course instantly appealed because of its focus on visual narrative.


What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation are to continue to develop my practice through picture book making and explore the format further. Albeit challenging, learning how to concurrently write and illustrate a story has been fascinating, and I am excited to continue learning how this process works and the possibilities it holds.

Find out more about MA Sequential Design/Illustration

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