Saturday, 15 October 2011

The dark and disturbing world of fairy tales and challenging children's books

New year, new project!

We only really get two projects for the whole year so I spent about a month trying to figure out what I could do, I had so many ideas it was crazy and I had trouble narrowing them down, all I know is my preferred avenue in Illustration lies in children's books, everything from the literature to the illustrations, so it made perfect sense to focus on that as a subject matter.

Something that has always intrigued me is the topic of sensitive, challenging material in kid's books and the censorship issues surrounding them, from the gruesome tales of The Brothers Grimm and Edward Gorey to the wonderful whimsical tales of Harry Potter and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In particular, classic traditional fairytales.

 The reason I wanted to focus on this was for a number of reasons:

1: The fact that most, if not all, fairy tales have been constantly censored and adapted over the years since their first creation, elements have been entirely removed to portray what is known as the typical-fairy-tale-happily-ever-after-nonsense. These stories we used to read used to involve disturbing aspects of death, loss, abandonment,  deceit, treachery, the list goes on. Fairy tales actually began as dark adult stories, it was only when writers and poets began to make them into children's book collections and often slightly changed them that they became targeted towards them.

2: They were often morality stories, teaching the readers about life which I believe would have aided development in the child, particularly emotionally, socially and educationally.

3: To create a book which challenges the censorship system and would result in the likelihood of it being banned if it were to be published.

So, my idea is to create a collection of traditional fairy tales, a book of say 4 of the darkest stories in their most original form. They will not end happily, but tragically, as they originally did. No handsome prince shall come to save the day, but a disturbing tale to show human nature is on the way.

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