Mary Kuper on Word Pictures
"I started studying linguistics but found it was not the science that appealed to me, but the imagery evoked by the words. I worked for a while as a printer and the pleasure of physically constructing meaning with pieces of lead or wood and the beauty of type on the page lead me into illustration.
Wooden type is the armature on which these Word Pictures hang; the shape of the word is my starting point. Behind this are words I have collected that conjure up images in the space between their present and past meanings, their origins and their familiar current usage.
The realisation that I could use pictures to talk about words by going inside a single word was a great discovery for me. An illustrator always struggles not to repeat the text in the images. Here the narrative of the word is hidden inside it and the pictures tell that story. There is a past, a present and some unknown future, encapsulated in the combination of letters.
These pictures are made using drawing and various print methods. I used a typewriter for the etymologies because I wanted to avoid the computer, which makes the ‘processing’ of words so easy to shape shift. There is no logic to the words I have chosen except that they all have stories I want to draw. Some of the origins are speculative, so-called ‘folk’ etymologies but still unravel a narrative in much the same way as does the language of dreams."