Once Upon A Small Universe by Megan Curtis

“Once Upon A Small Universe” is a picturebook I made during the Covid-19 lockdown. It was made through mixed media including; photography, illustration, digital painting, collage and creative writing. The story, in brief, depicts an elderly woman called Jojo as the protagonist. She is a miniaturist and dreams about being small enough to live inside the miniatures. Jojo falls asleep and enters a parallel state of consciousness in which she has shrunk and travels through the miniatures. She becomes lost and distressed and cannot find her way home. Eventually she returns to reality, changed by the experience. The creation of the story and the protagonist was inspired by (if not directly representative of) my Grandmother, Jojo who makes miniature models. The character and story are fictional, however, based on real life people and experience. The imagery is also a combination of real life and fictional drawing, therefore the whole book exists somewhere between reality and fiction. The project explores themes of family, ageing, memory, home and reality. There are layers of underlying meaning and a hidden narrative that can be symbolic of the health and wellbeing of the elderly. When the protagonist enters a parallel state of consciousness she loses concept of time and space, this confusion represents the declining mental function of humans as we age. The story is playful but acts as an analogy for serious collective concerns we have about the physical and mental health of our elders. I think it is important to create platforms and conversation starters to make the topic easier to address, I hope my book can function as a way of preparing children for the deteriorating wellbeing of their grandparents.

I am a fine art photographer predominantly working in digital design and image construction. My practice explores the blurred barrier between reality and fiction in image making. Using photomontage techniques and digital painting, I create images of constructed and imagined places, portraying a scene which does not exist and cannot be visited. Recent projects have moved my work towards socially engaged practice, with application in healthcare settings, focusing on the community and ways to improve wellbeing. Since 2017 I have been collaborating with my Gran who is a miniaturist. Our intergenerational practice explores sculpture-based photography and the creation of fictional places. Various projects have evolved during this time, a recent project, ‘Small Universe’ is a book about our collaboration with the aim of encouraging other older people to be creative by promoting the benefits of art on health and wellbeing. This book was funded by the public through JustGiving and then distributed to older people with the help of AgeUK charity.I have studied photography in education for 7 years, currently completing a Masters degree at York St John University.


Posted in C19

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