Joel Lardner’s professional output

Sheeple

Painting / illustration – Published 1st May 05

Sheeple’ was selected for inclusion in an anthology, ‘Graphic poetry’ (Towsend, A. and Warfield, J. (eds.) of UK design firm Wig-01), in which designers and artists collaborated with poets on an international level to provide visual interpretations of the written word.

Each artist selected was offered a piece of text to ‘illustrate’. The aim was to problematise the relationship between word and image, thus offering the reader a richer experience than that given by reading and looking in isolation. Other contributors include Marion Deuchars, Tomato, Why Not Associates and Big Active.

Research imperatives: Lardner’s work is a response to US-based Ainsley Burrow’s poem, ‘Sheeple’. The poem is a thinly vieled denunciation of US cultural and military domination. His approach to a well-trodden theme from an original angle, avoiding the familiar cliches, which attempt, primarily, to subvert US cultural/political icons. The objective was to visualise the message of the poem and in so doing, create a sense of menace and unease. Thus, a portrait of an anonymous figure was created to symbolise the authority and dominance of the USA referred to in the poem. In an attempt to replicate the rapid staccato delivery of the poem, the text itself is hand-rendered by Lardner in a primitive scawl, as if carved into the wall of a prison cell and integrated within the image. The uncontrollable force of the words is not fluid or applied with delicacy but acts as a brutal representation of the poem’s monotonous diatribe.