Written by Winni Chen
Translated by Joel Wong
Photos by PMQ
A man and a plant sit quietly next to each other, seemingly on a branch with blossoming flowers, or a cluster of clouds painted in salmon by the sun, looking right at the city from afar…
This, is the key visual of the “Between Us” Picture Book Exhibition—a surreal yet poetic and implicitly metaphorical scene that takes our mind off the bustling city, an image that allows us reflect on our connection with nature. From there, perhaps we may find a way where men and nature can both thrive.
The key visual of the “Between Us” Picture Book Exhibition
In Between Us, we recount the dialogue between human and nature—“us” hints at both mankind and nature, and the mandrake in the picture represents the latter. “The plant is called mandrake because of its resemblance to humans. To me, I feel like it understands us better than any other plants out there”, says Lokyu, a young and emerging illustrator. The visual clues she laid behind the key visual for the exhibition are humorously interesting.
(Up) Sketches of the mandrake (Bottom) Mandrake did also appear in the film Pan’s Labyrinth, Lokyu recalls.
Nature is depicted by Lokyu through her direct brushstrokes and bold colour palettes. Her simple composition portrays nature’s beauty so effortlessly that it is also deeply moving. The infectious creativity behind Lokyu’s work has led us to invite her to be the illustrator for the poster and other visual materials of the exhibition.
The other sketches that were not selected for the key visual are also stunning.
Imagine the Dance of Light and Shadow in Nature
The exhibition is divided into three zones. Lokyu has created a series of supporting illustrations that are significant for each section. Starting with an encounter, a man and a mandrake are about to step out of the frame, leaving us room for imagination—will they meet again in the future?
In the second area, we witness the conflicts and dilemmas that might exist between mankind and nature, through carefully selected picture books. The facial expressions of the animals here illustrated by Lokyu, are utterly unforgettable—a sleepy koala is unable to locate a eucalyptus tree to sleep on; a seabird family looking quite puzzled in front of a polluted pond reminds us of a scene at the beach, where a mother fails to explain to her child about the accumulating trash. The funniest one, might just be the giraffe, on meeting with its twin—an excavator that looks exactly like him—it asks “Is that one of the most vital species on Earth?”
Finally, may we take a glimpse at the beauty of nature as it brings all kinds of wisdom to us. Just as the mandrake spews out colourful flowers with a megaphone in Lokyu's illustration.
Starting with an encounter, a man and a mandrake are about to step out of the frame, leaving us room for the imagination—will they meet again in the future?
In the second area, we witness the conflicts and dilemmas that might exist between mankind and nature, through carefully selected picture books. The facial expressions of the animals here illustrated by Lokyu, are utterly unforgettable.
Finally, may we take a glimpse at the beauty of nature as nature brings all kinds of wisdom to human beings. Just as the mandrake spews out colourful flowers with a megaphone in Lokyu's illustration.
The string telephone is used to represent the connection between mankind and nature.
In Between Us, we recount the dialogue between mankind and nature.
Embrace the Sparks of Everyday Life
“Drawing is a technique as well as a series of progressive steps to ‘own’ something you like,” Lokyu explains as she accounts for her passion and devotion for illustration.
Being an introvert, the sound of her brush or pen becomes Lokyu’s ways of greeting strangers. It might be the silhouette of a stumbling old man on the road or that funny pinch of hair hanging on the bank clerk’s forehead. It could be the passenger on the train with his head buried in a book inside the compartment, or the calmly postured plants in the coffee shop. Through the observant eyes of the illustrator, fleeting moments in our everyday life have become nostalgic treasures worth recalling for.
“Nature is already in its harmony, and mankind do not need to do more.” Ironically, all things in nature have become more vibrant during an unprecedented time for humans. So, what was Lokyu's first tender moment with nature? She recalls a solo trip to the Isles of Portland, the southernmost point of Great Britain, where the sky melts into the sea and the sea level is so high that a huge wave of blueness almost engulf her. The shock and amusement from the seeing the view lingers with her, even long after her trip. When we ask Lokyu if she can show us the painting of the ocean, she explains that it was sent to her parents the day she finished it. “Sometimes I don’t have the urge to keep my work, it [the sea] was with me when I finished drawing.”
Lokyu recalls a solo trip to the Isles of Portland, the southernmost point of Great Britain.
There are no ways to keep the beauty of nature with us permanently, but the moment it sends your pulse racing, will stay forever in your heart.
"Between Us" Picture Book Exhibition