With nearly 300 images spanning time, theme and continents, digital art curator Stephen Ellcock’s latest book “grew out of a long-standing opposition to the state of affairs” and aims to “provoke thought. , revelation ”and, above all,“ action ”. It traces a visual journey from the biblical fall from grace, to our current turbulent times. While this is a seamless exploration of struggle, injustice, and inequality, there is also beauty, compassion, and joy. This idea arose online when Ellcock began expanding his Facebook page into an “online museum” housing a multitude of images. Ultimately, the book offers us a vision for positive change through our collective potential and creative energy (like the Royal Foundation’s new ‘Earthshot Prize’, first awarded in October 2021 for contributions to the environmentalism) on which the very existence of humanity on this planet depends. Ellcock selected seven images from each section to inspire us all to action.
“William Price (1800-93) was one of the most romantic and revolutionary figures in Welsh history. A flamboyant and radical figure, he was a distinguished physician, nationalist, Chartist, heretic and Arch Druid who avoided socks and drank mostly champagne. An exceptional surgeon and pioneer in social health care, Price was also a passionate advocate for women’s rights, universal suffrage, free education, vegetarianism and animal welfare. The public cremation of her son toddler in 1884 became a sensational late Victorian event famous cause, paving the way for the legalization of the practice of cremation across the UK and beyond.
“The 12th century poem by Persian poet Farid al-Din ‘Attar is an allegory of the Sufi quest for spiritual truth and self-awareness. All the birds of the world come together to choose a king, so that they can live more harmoniously. The Hoopoe persuades them that their ruler should be the legendary bird Simurgh. However, the quest to find the Simurgh involves an arduous journey through seven valleys: quest, love, revelation, contentment, unity, wonder, and poverty. Thirty birds reach the Simurgh, only to see their own reflections watching them when they look at the face of the mythical bird.
“The compilation by French humanist Pierre Boaistuau sparked the craze for illustrated books devoted to the monsters, wonders, wonders and inexplicable phenomena that swept through the courts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Boaistuau mixed contemporary threads of monstrous births and great traveler’s accounts with texts drawn from myths, legends and his own observations. While asserting that his intention was to educate and uplift, his insistence on the grotesque and the extreme marks him as a precursor of PT Barnum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not !, the books of Charles Fort (hence the term “Fortean” derives) and the Guinness World Records. “
“On October 5, 1936, 200 unemployed people and their local MP, Ellen Wilkinson, left Jarrow in the North East of England for London with a petition to present to Parliament. The Jarrow Shipyard had closed after the Great Depression. Out of a population of 35,000, 23,000 citizens were now unemployed or dependent on other relief payments. Just as the victims of today’s austerity are vilified by hostile media and an entire political class, the unemployed of 1930s Britain were castigated as ‘diggers’ and ‘unemployed cheaters’ . The great triumph of the Jarrow Crusade was to humanize and give voice to the blameless victims of economic circumstances.
“In the summer of 1859, American artist Frederic Edwin Church made a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador to observe and draw icebergs. His friend the Reverend Louis Legrand Noble described the excursion in the book After the icebergs with a painter: “Reigning in the depths of solitary majesty, the terror of sailors and the wonder of the traveler, it was one of those imperial creations of nature that arouse powerful emotions and illuminate the imagination. Due to climate change, the vast and awe-inspiring arctic icebergs captured so beautifully by Church are melting into increasingly warm seas. “
“Augusta Savage (1892-1962) was born in Florida and moved to New York on a scholarship to study art at the Cooper Union. In 1923, she obtained a scholarship to study at the École des beaux-arts de Fontainebleau in France, but the French government forced the school to withdraw its offer after learning that she was black. In 1932, the artist opened the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts, where she taught and encouraged many distinguished artists of color. Savage became the first African-American member of what is now the National Association of Women Artists. Unfortunately, only 12 of his works have survived.
“The series of the Spanish photographer Afronauts (2012) uses highly theatrical staging and costumes to confront stereotypical representations of African peoples and culture. The inspiration was the eccentric Zambian science professor Edward Makuka Nkoloso who in 1964 launched his own space program with the aim of putting the first African on the moon. Although he was forced to abandon the project for lack of funding, Nkoloso can be considered a true pioneer of Afrofuturism, whose remarkable visions continue to inspire artists, filmmakers and all those who dream of a truly democratic and inclusive space race.
• Stephen Ellcock, The book of change: images to inspire revelations and revolutions, September edition, £ 25 (hb), published October 21