Ian Phillips


In 2012 I went on an eight week residency at the Djumbunji Press Print Studio in Cairns, Queensland, to learn from the indigenous artists of the Torres Strait Islands. Their incredibly intricate black and white lino cuts, based on their islands cultural heritage and maritime location, are pure pattern. Small triangular cuts create shimmering patterns which can be used for background decoration and tone and yet contain a wealth of ecological and cultural information.

My aims were twofold; To explore and draw the Australian landscape and to understand the origin, use and creation of their marks and its application to their natural world.

Upon returning to Wales I began to look to apply the knowledge I had learnt to my own local landscape, its ecology and cultural and historic artifacts to create my own patterns. An interesting vein of research became illuminated manuscripts and bestiaries which blend folklore and the natural world with limited fact and symbolic imagery

A modern bestiary would aim to integrate the visual presence and drama of these animals with their folkloric stories through symbolic pattern and decoration. Unlike the original Bestiaries, however, there might even be some actual facts about the animals and their ecological co-dependence.