At a second Lines presentation, I showed the Boy Who Gave His Heart Away and described its literary, artistic, typographic, electronic, and printed relationships. This illustration was commissioned by Nick Wells, from whom I received an email via the Central Illustration Agency:

From: Nick Wells <>

Subject: Radio Times commission

Date: 23 May 2016 at 11:58:14 BST


Hi Ben

I was wondering whether Jonathan Gibbs would be available for one of our small radio illustrations for the next issue of the Radio Times? Fairly swift turnaround as usual with a sketch ASAP and final artwork end-of-play Wednesday, but it’s relatively small as always (dimensions w:38mm x h:72mm) and the normal of fee £200. I’ve attached the brief synopsis for the radio programme below and would love to see what Jonathan can do with it. Could you let me know ASAP. Much appreciated.


Nick Wells

Senior Designer

Radio Times Magazine

Immediate Media Company London Ltd | Vineyard House | 44 Brook Green | London W6 7BT



 It is August 2003 and two mothers are facing the most terrible sequence of events – their teenage sons are dying. Mark McCay from Paisley and Martin Burton from Nottingham were fit, healthy, happy young men until a heart virus and brain damage took a devastating hold, respectively. Writer and journalist Cole Moreton approaches the subject of organ donation with great sensitivity, allowing the boy’s families the time and space to recall the worst moment of their lives. His voice is there only when a clarifying update of events is needed. To hear one of the mothers describe placing her hand upon the beating chest of the boy who received her son’s heart is unbearable and yet, despite the aching sorrow, this ultimately an uplifting tale of hope and the supreme generosity of the human spirit.  

JANE ANDERSON                                                                               Radio Times 4-10 June 2016


Throughout this project, the lines of communication were entirely electronic. Actual artwork never left my studio except by digital means. Of course, this is commercial work, but it is not merely so. This was an illustration for sound: the human voice on radio, in a documentary context.

I corresponded with the author, Cole Moreton, and the RT designer Nick Wells.

The small-scale illustration is used at the top right of the Radio listings page. The print run for Radio Times is 750,000 copies. Print quality is excellent for an ephemeral newsprint publication. This journal has a history of presenting the best of contemporary British illustration.

The artwork was made late at night and early in the morning, over two days, and sent by email as a 300dpi jpeg. It is a wood engraving

There are nine graphic designers at the Radio Times.

[Previous RT wood engravings have been commissioned for ‘Book at Bedtime’, on Radio 4: Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray; New Grub Street by George Gissing; The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and The Female Shipwright by Mary Lacy]

The Wee Red Bar

Lines meeting 12.X.2016

The Wee Red seems an appropriately subterranean setting for a musical accompaniment to this Lines research presentation.

There is NO speech, but there are six slides during this performance of East Coast Line. This instrumental piece was inspired by a journey from Kings Cross St Pancras to Edinburgh Waverley: the rail-link between two capital cities. On the station map, there are circular dots along the route, representing stations from North to South, like beads on a thread. But this tune really concerns the final stretch of the journey:

•Newcastle •Morpeth •Alnmouth •Berwick-upon-Tweed •Dunbar •Edinburgh.

Following the edge of land and sea, there is a steady rhythm of visual and aural incident as well as a succession of stops and starts. Viewed through the insulated window of a train compartment, these are framed perspectives and indentations within the topography of the English & Scottish border-lands.

The melody moves between three octaves in the scale of G major and the guitar is tuned to Open G, with harmonics struck at various intervals.

[East Cost Line was played at Jonny Hannah’s Mermaid Cabaret at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and at the ECA symposium, Shaping the View with Plume of Feathers and the Folklore Tapes.]


1: There is NO speech . . .

2: Line . . .

3: A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost – Folio Society

The Nightingale by John Clare – BBC Wildlife

4: Bewick’s Swan – Jonathan Cape

Swallow & Dyke – Jonathan Cape

Lapwing – Jonathan Cape

A Bend in the River – Mr & Mrs Andrew Clements

Curlew – Magnus & Veronica Linklater’s Riemore map

Barn Owl border design – Jonathan Cape

5: Research . . .

6: The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away – Radio Times


Folio Society: 6000

BBC Wildlife Magazine: 50,000

Jonathan Cape: 5000

Radio Times: 750,000

Chambers Dictionary:

 Linelin, n. a thread, string, cord, rope, esp. one for fishing, sounding, hanging clothes, or guidance: that which has length without breadth or thickness (math): a long narrow mark: a streak, stroke or narrow stripe: draughtsmanship: a row of printed or written characters, ships, soldiers, etc.: a verse, such as is usu. written in one row: a series or succession, as of progeny: a service of ships, buses, etc. or a company running them: a course, route, system: a railway or a tramway track or route: a stretch or route of telegraph, telephone, or power wires or cables: a connection by telephone: an order given to an agent for goods: such goods received: trade in, or the stock on hand of, any particular goods: a lineament: a rank: a short letter or note: a wrinkle: a trench: limit: method : policy: a rule or canon: (with the; often cap.)the equator: lineage: direction: occupation: course: province or sphere of life, interest, or taste: regular army: line of battle: an old measurement, the twelfth part of an inch: relevant information (coll.): glib talk (slang): in TV, the path traversed by the electron beam or scanning spot in moving once from side to side (horizontal scanning) or from top to bottom (vertical scanning) of the picture: a queue (U.S.)


• From my perspective, research means seeking and finding out about the subject; exploration, improvisation, experimentation.

• Embedded in this definition is the collection, documentation, and notation and of material so that it may be legible and useful.

• Research encapsulates an exploration of complex intellectual, visual and philosophical aspects of experience.

• Within my own practice, this is directed towards art education & art practice in the creation of hand-made images & objects.

• Such outputs are widely disseminated through publishing, design, teaching, research events and exhibitions. Such is their ‘impact’.

• This research practice includes technical and philosophical explorations of materials and methods of making.



Pilgrim Post

Mike Windle, Dec 2016

Been going on a number of pilgrimages recently… this year to Little and Big Sparta, searching deeper into “How to Make Films”… and the discovery of a clutch of useful books too…

‘The cinema of poetry’ (2014) P. Adams Sitney – Historian of avant garde American cinema. All my heros are there. Last Chapter Greek-American Gregory Markopoulos (1928-1992) + Temenos (means sacred enclosure).

‘A history of artists’ film and video in Britain‘ (David Curtis 2007) Ch2.1/p87 “The story of mainstream cinema is that of the triumph over all other possibilities of a highly encoded narrative language – the child of narrative painting and theatre – delivered with a standardised 24/25 frames-a-second pulse.”

‘Experimental Ethnography : The Work of Film in the Age of Video’ (Catherine Russell 1999).

I’m still reading that last one. I am intrigued about how narratives can be forged through often very disparate media.

This isn’t new of course, look at the ‘cargo-cult’ stories from 20th century Melanesia. The islanders left us magical versions of the tech of the day – radios and aeroplanes – made from sticks and coconuts as research and development.

And even further back… the Acropolis Museum in Athens this summer offered me a history lesson. The story of gods made solid by that mass of stone – daring us to disbelieve. I emerged convinced and converted.

Another convincing talk was by Pam Smy at the ‘Shaping the View’ symposium in ECA last month. She is an illustrator who has made a series of model houses as a way to imagine the house she needed to draw for her forthcoming book ‘Thornhill’. The models are part of her process, I don’t think she had shown them to anyone before.

So I’m making things just now. Things that can populate my films. Trying to conjure up what the films should be about – a bit like the Melanesians. How would they make a film to coax something into existence?

Pilgrims: Little Sparta, Pentlands Scotland + Temenos, Arcadia Greece

Objects for film – Camera…

… Philosopher’s cave + beard

A Murder of Crows


One of eight illustrations for The Lumber Room, by Saki



Current research involves Illustration’s collaborative relationship with writers, editors, publishers, designers and artists. This embraces academic and professional contexts to be explored in studio pieces and commissioned work. This research also involves the ECA Drawing Book, Shaping the View and the Picture Hooks projects. These are collaborative works in and beyond ECA, involving current ECA students, staff, and alumni.

The history of Illustration is inextricably connected to histories of printing, design, technology and book publishing, as well as Art. Its greatest exponents, past & present, have engaged with literary content and formats of the page and in fundamental relationships of imagery to the written word.

For the purpose of Lines today, my starting point is the subject of birds.

This begins with a currently commissioned piece for the Random Spectacular magazine, designed and edited by Simon Lewin in Edinburgh. The illustration interprets The Lumber Room, the short story by Saki, (H.H. Munro). This is a complex, multi-faceted storyline of time & space.

In addition to a full-page image, there are seven spot illustrations, interspersed within the text to enhance the typographic layout. These minature images give visual punctuation to the narrative and alter the reader’s pace in following passages of text within the architecture of the page.

An Ibis, for example, sits amongst a treasure trove of objects with other nameless birds. All of these have decorative and symbolic roles within the composition. To an extent, the identity of an illustration is defined by its context although the image may have validity in its own right, with intellectual and artistic integrity beyond the published context. However, I suggest that it is impossible to understand and appreciate the illustrations without their textual accompaniments.

In one section is an illustration of an illustration. Two birds communicate, beak to beak, across the gutter of an open book, and they extend outside its frame. There is a play upon image within image and frames within a frame; a pictorial device used in many of illustrations, paintings and drawings.

The Lumber Room birds can be compared to The Nightingale, seen In another published context, who sings out of her frame. The placement of this piece is within an editorial page-design, and the bird is framed in a box as a pictorial enclosure. This frame sets off the subject; presenting it to the viewer as if captured.

Illustrations are static, but they may imply or evoke movement.

The Nightingale is in illustration for John Clare’s poem, but is used in the context of a BBC Wildlife Magazine essay about bird-song. It is placed alongside a lark, thrush, and cuckoo; all of which have notable songs.Similarly the Robert Frost illustrations employ frames within frames, with the typographic structure with an underlying grid-structure complementing the graphic character of the illustrations. These are illustrations for poetry. In this book, the Thrush, illustrated for ‘Come In’, also sings out of her box on the page. She is like a toy, or a caged bird. The ‘box’ is a visual device, like a picture frame, or a cell.

Looking at the image away from the page gives a portrayal of the bird, with a title. Reading of the poem, essay, or the short story gives a particular perception of the illustration; the one casting light upon the other, and vice versa.Returning to the Lumber Room, there is juxtaposition of pictorial content, in sections, all of which constitute a sense of the whole.

The illustration pictures the story, but within an abstracted composition.

Various artists have illustrated Saki’s short stories since their publication between 1910 and 1923. I am just another of these, in a long line of interpretations. Saki’s last words spoken in the trenches, just before his death by a sniper’s bullet in World War I:

‘Put that bloody cigarette out!’

Birds populate our world, cityscape and landscape. For some reason, they play a role in much of my illustration work, both to commission and in the studio.

My pictorial treatment of them appears to be repetitive & stylistically similar. However, their varied literary contexts give different aspects of meaning.

The lines in these bird illustrations are engraved into end-grain woodblocks, and imprinted on to paper with letterpress ink. A drawn line necessitates the movement of the whole body, with its focal energy impressed between forefinger and thumb. This is a gesture, a movement of the body, a muscular impulse of shoulder, arm and hand. Drawings are frequently described as ‘gestural’, in some or other mode of artistic representation. The act of drawing is a sequence of movements, coordinated by the mind’s eye & hand to compose an image. This is just one of the ways of defining drawing.

In these engraved lines, they are lines of absence. The un-sculpted areas of the woodblock receive ink to be impressed onto paper. All that is carved away reads as a negative, white line, texture or shape.

Some of these examples are cited in preparation for two group exhibitions in the summer of 2016. They are also pertinent to the forthcoming ECA Illustration Symposium in November: Shaping the View.



One of seven illustrations for The Baite, by John Donne

One of twenty-four illustrations for Robert Frost: Selected Poems

One of twenty-four illustrations for Robert Frost: Selected Poems

Jonathan Gibbs 3.V.2016


Wednesday 12 Oct 1.30-5pm
The Wee Red
Lauriston Place, Edinburgh College of Art
The lines group has a broad interest in narrative and storytelling which incorporates process, practise and structure.  We are interested in how and why we tell stories in and through visual and material culture. We are developing a multi-disciplinary approach to research with outputs in talks, workshops, collaborative research and eventually new courses.

As part of this process we are also looking to develop the best way to grow interest in the group and disseminate ideas springing from it. With that in mind we are having an evening of informal research presentations from Lines group members and PhD students in The Wee Red Bar on Wednesday Oct 12 at 1.30-5pm.

We would love you to take part.
We intend the presentations to be short 6 minute talks and to be driven by a line of 3 words from this word-grid (2 minutes per word).

In discussion afterwards there will be a
Graphic Elicitor
who will capture ideas and concepts in a visual way useful for further discussion and dissemination.

This will be our first event of this kind – so it is an experiment, hopefully we will learn what works best. We are interested in your research and how it may intersect with the themes of the group.
Please sign up to present via Eventbrite
Thank you, and hope you can help us make this a success.


Temenos 2016


Last week I attended a film screening of the latest cycle of ENIAIOS by Gregory Markopoulos. This is an eighty hour film shown in parts every four years (we are about half way now – in started in 2004) on a particular hillside in Arcadia, Greece. 200 of us from all over the world camped under the stars over 3 nights to experience Markopoulos’ vision of film, nature and pilgrimage. Mike Windle, July 2016.


This is from Temenos Facebook…

Next week, the premiere of ENIAIOS cycles IX -XI by Gregory J. Markopoulos will take place on July 1, 2, and 3 outside the village of Lyssarea in Arcadia. Temenos Archive has restored these next three film orders of Markopoulos’s 80-hour, silent, 16mm film ENIAIOS; the restoration has been a delicate and time-consuming process similar to the restoration of a monumental mosaic or fresco.

Each cycle of ENIAIOS is composed of mythic themes, film portraits, and films of place. His extraordinarily complex editing and individual use of color transport the spectator and help them to reflect on complex emotions within a meditative vision. It is an immersive experience that unlocks distinct and individual qualities for each spectator.

In the three ENIAIOS cycles to be shown this year, there are portraits of the Greek painters Nikos Hadtzkiriakos Ghika and Yannis Tsarouchis; writers Pahndelis Prevelakis, Lilika Nakou, and Patricia Highsmith; and other personalities such as Nina Kandinsky and Catherine Gide. The films of place include the archeological sites of Mycenae, Dodona, Delphi, and the Archontika Spitia in Siatista.

The original meaning of the term TEMENOS is ‘a piece of land set apart.’ Markopoulos chose the site near Lyssarea as the ideal place for his spectators’ aesthetic quest. Deeply imbued with Hellenic culture, his films gain their most powerful impact in this setting. He associated the experience of viewing ENIAIOS to the ancient Greek god of medicine, Asclepius. The premiere screenings on July 1, 2 and 3 will be held at the setting of the sun, approximately 21:45, and vary in length between two and three hours.

Fragile lines



A Bit In The Air by Cath Keay & Graeme Wilson at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival VIII at CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28th November 2015

A Bit In The Air -porcelain letters

I was very moved by the book, Sanity, Madness and the Family. It sets out real conversations between young women (patients of psychiatrists R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterston) and members of their families. I selected lines from their speech where they revealed their fragility and confusion.

Over this bit I am a bit in the air, not over all the things in the world, not over everything, not everything, but over this I am a bit sort of dubious’

Each letter from this sentence was extruded in porcelain. This process causes the clay to snag and coil from the template that created them, and these ‘flaws’ were retained when the clay was subsequently fired.

These 86 boney forms were hung in a line from five metal frames, so as the sentence can be read from below. In this situation they can swing freely, grate together and break out into sporadic chiming.

A Bit In The Air by Cath Keay & Graeme Wilson at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival VIII at CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28th November 2015

In November they were central to the performance A Bit in the Air, at GIOfest VIII, at CCA, Glasgow. Musicians from Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra divided into five ‘families.’ Each family centred around one female vocalist and a percussionist who played one of the frames of letters. The performance itself merged vocalised and indirect metaphorical interpretations of the line of text and the reactions within each ‘musical’ family.

Cath Keay May 2016

A Bit In The Air by Cath Keay & Graeme Wilson at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival VIII at CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28th November 2015

GIO7 72

A Bit In The Air by Cath Keay & Graeme Wilson at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival VIII at CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28th November 2015

A Bit In The Air by Cath Keay & Graeme Wilson at Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival VIII at CCA in Glasgow on Saturday 28th November 2015 -Images courtesy of Alex Woodword, Crimson Glow Photography



A letter to my project

alys scott hawkinpic

Alys Scott-Hawkins

All are welcome to this inaugural seminar by the Lines : Design(ing) Stories research group
4-5pm, Seminar Room 2.13, Evolution House

Alys’ works with animated documentary, uses drawing to explore the world and to hunt out difficult and unusual stories. Her short films have been screened at international film festivals and won several awards. She made a prime time short for Channel 4, and has worked as artist-inresidence at the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna and the National Media Museum in Bradford. Recent exhibitions include Parasol Unit and Peacock Arts, both in London. Alys teaches on the BA & MA Animation Production courses at Arts University Bournemouth, and co-curates the blog Animated

Her paper ‘A Letter to my Project’ describes some of the challenges of the Bedford Place Map, a recent participatory project. Asking questions directly addressed to the project open up discussion about the relationships we all have with our work and what we learn from things which do not turn out as planned.

This seminar is the first in a series of planned events by the Lines : Design(ing) Stories Research group. Please contact us if you are interested in exploring the stories developed in and through visual and material culture

Salon: ‘What we saw, did, found…’

We held our first salon this afternoon with the overall theme of ‘what we saw, did or found’. The theme allowed members to choose whether to discuss their own research or to introduce someone/thing else.

We began with a fascinating presentation from Lindy Richardson on her interests in embroidery, from her archival work with the Needlework Development Scheme to her personal interests on researching and making work on Saints.  She brought examples from both and a great discussion was held on her own approach as well as how this might fit into a larger site of study.


Mike Windle showed us a film he had made on the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth and talked about his interest in film as a document of research as well as his personal stories of the area. We were all very interested in the idea of documentation and how this fit into the larger idea of research outputs but also in terms of personal research.

Nichola Dobson talked about a recent conference presentation she attended at which animator Susan Young showed her personal films including her series on dealing with trauma and memory. The group discussed how again film (and specifically animation) could be used to present a specific narrative of memory.

Unfortunately we were interrupted by a fire alarm which basically ended the meeting but we were able to plan for our guest speaker Alys Scott-Hawkins, invited for December/January from the Arts University Bournemouth.



The Design Stories group has a broad interest in narrative and storytelling which incorporates process, practise and structure.  We are interested in how and why we tell stories in and through visual and material culture. We would like to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to research with perceived outputs in talks, workshops, collaborative research and eventually new courses.

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