Bringing family history to life in a bespoke art piece is a richly rewarding, enjoyable experience. Originally we were commissioned to document a vintage album of postcards that had been kicking around the extended family for generations before being lovingly rescued. These postcards, dated from 1907 to the 1950's, were the way their ancestor, the opera singer Eileen Boyd (1890-1975), kept in touch with her parents and family whilst living and touring in England, Europe and Asia. So not only are the pictures a fascinating window into that time in history, the messages written on the back give insight into her personality, her life as a performer, and are a social history of the times.
From the David Elliott Theatrical Postcard Collection - http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-145697698/view Vintage postcard from the album - Da Vince's Mona Lisa, which was stolen from The Louvre 4 days before this postcard was written. It was not recovered until 1913. Date 25-8-11. My Angel Mum, This Picture has been stolen from the "Louvre" there is great fuss about it here, keep this card dear as they may never find the Picture again. Your loving child. Eileen A. Boyd. Paris.
The family are very proud of their ancestor and really wanted to bring her to life. So they asked us to create an artwork to celebrate who Eileen was to them. Working our way through over 1200 postcards, the family selected those ones most important to them, which told her story and her memorable experiences. It was then up to us to find a way to incorporate these diverse images into a design that worked as an art piece.
We created a triptych design that gave some visual structure to the diversity of imagery and kept the physical feel of the album by incorporating the actual page design with its grid of 6 cards, each with decorative cut corners to hold the cards in place. The combinations of colour vs sepia/black & white images we organised into a subtle blocked grid pattern rather than a random one, adding yet another structural layer to contain so many differing pieces into a cohesive whole.
We also wanted Eileen to tell some of her own story in her own words. Instead of a traditional white matte, we created a border from sections of the postcard backs at a percentage of their full colour. This allowed the postcard pages to come forward while their messages were still readable.
Detail of first Triptych showing border design The family were thrilled and tell us how they love to see Eileen's life on their wall, and "hear" her voice reading her letters in her own handwriting. Eileen comes to life for them through the artwork. Framed in white to suit the contemporary decor, and hung in the centre of their apartment beside the dining table, the triptych can be seen from all angles, and has been a fabulous conversation piece at dinner parties.