I’m very happy to be one of the contributors to the Cambridge Science Festival in association with the MIT Museum in Massachusetts, US. I’ll be talking about pareidolia drawing. As the entire festival is virtual this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, my talk has been pre-recorded and is available to view online throughout April. I hope you’ll check it out.
Here’s the link to my talk:
These previews were offered via social media posts on the Cambridge Science Festival page:
The festival is full of fascinating, free virtual events throughout April.
I’m delighted to share the news that I am one of 12 artists to win the World Wildlife Fund’s recent creative callout for UK artwork. Based on a theme of hope – for a reimagined future where nature is put at the heart of our decisions – one of my pareidolia drawings has been chosen out of 640 entries.
I can’t share the actual winning image until the exhibition launch, but I can say that it is a drawing inspired by one of Martin Bond of A Cambridge Diary’s fabulous photographs and that the image is of a very famous row of trees. From 30 April onwards, we will be offering collaboration prints for sale as limited editions here on this website: https://hiddencreaturesart.com/cambridge-collaboration-prints-shop/
The recent launch of my website http://www.hiddencreaturesart.com has quickly revealed how interesting it is to share pareidolia artwork. Pareidolia has been defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “The tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern”. Yep, that definitely feels familiar and those meaningful images that I perceive as a pareidoliaist often amount to creatures or just faces. This word is not to be found in my beloved 1983 Deluxe Second Edition of Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary – a book that cost $5 and has survived being lugged around the world for many years.
However, the German word pareidolie can be found in the 19th century work of Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum, which he used in a similar sense to how we use the word pareidolia today.
As I drew Holly and The Ivy, I stayed true to my own perceptions throughout the drawing, apart from one exception where I purposefully added in someone whom I did not actually perceive in Martin’s photograph. When I mentioned this to the fabulous group of Facebook followers on A Cambridge Diary, where Martin Bond kindly shared my drawing alongside his beautiful photograph (which he took in 2013) of Trinity College main entrance, a marvellous stream of guesswork developed in the comments:
“Elizabeth I? Bottom left wearing the ruff. Daughter of Henry VIII, who founded Trinity in 1546” “Dame Sally Davies, current master from her glasses?” “Is the elegant lady bottom left Katherine Parr?” “Virginia Woolf? I associate her with Trinity and feel as if she’s in your picture?” “Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland” “It’s Jane Asher top middle!!” “It makes me think of the Secret Garden”
How amazing is that? All of these magnificent references that people perceive in my drawing, none of which were specifically on my mind whilst I was drawing it. Yet, I know that where I draw and what’s going on around me – both locally and in the world at large – as well as all that has happened beforehand, however long ago, does impact the inspiration I receive, at least subconsciously, from an image whilst I draw it.
Just as a work of literature and its characters mean one thing to the author but invariably evolve in meaning for others when these are publicly shared, clearly some pareidolia drawings are layered enough to provoke a similar response. It’s wonderful feedback for an artist to know how her work is seen objectively. So, to all those who share your insights, it’s much appreciated.
It also seems that pareidolia can be fine-tuned, as in one person’s response to my drawing:
“Looking back at the photo after seeing the drawing, I too can spot the owl on her dress!!”
If you’d like to have a fine art giclée print of Holly and The Ivy or any of my other drawings to contemplate further, just head over to the shop tab at http://www.hiddencreaturesart.com/shop.