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Writing Systems By this point in the project I was beginning to feel disconnteced from my research findings even though I was enjoying learning about historical writings and the way different practioners used writing in their work. I needed to find a personal connection to the research I had done so far. I re-read my brief however because I had not specified an outcome It did not help me to move forwards. I went out to do more primary research in the hope I would find an anchor. Seeing the ancient stone slabs of heiroglyphs at the Petrie Museum was very inspiring and at this point I decided to try to combine elements of European and African visual aesthetics somehow, within one piece of work. I had worked with Adinkra symbols previously and feel they have a cultural relevance in the modern world. Although they are traditionally printed on to fabric to create decorative designs I thought combining the two visual elements in to one form. Other writing systems also provided a point of interest. For example the Nigerian Nsibidi writing system has been used for centuries and this form of written communication is recognised by Nigerian audiences. Without an understanding of what the Nsibidi symbols mean it is still possible for non-Nigerian audiences to seek and find meaning, and recognise some of the universal symbols that can also be found in other ideographic writing systems, such as the Ghanaian Adinkra, or Egyptian heiroglyphs. For example, the symbols that use everyday objects to communicate ideas rather than to spell out phonographic words could be deciphered by non-African audiences.

In her graduate thesis exploring Adinkra symbols, Jasmine Danzy argues the point that non-phonetic writing systems, although not classified as such by leading linguistic scholars, should still be classified as a true writing system, that deserves as much status as European phonetic writing systems, such as Latin. She states: “Adinkra is an ideographic writing system and the ideas they represent still teach valuable lessons. Moreover Adinkra symbols are visual metaphors because of their ability to enhance understanding by providing knowledge�. (Danzy, 2009, p.37) The meaning and relevance of non-Western writing systems and alphabets is a subject I have become more interested in over the course of this project. I discovered the artist Victor Ekpuk very recently and although the impact of his work on me has not yet filtered through in to my practice, I find his art has a resonance with my creative inquiry. His work can be appreciated purley for it’s aesthetic value, and also for the seemingly hidden meaning in the symbols and signs he creates, that draw on the tradition of Nsibidi symbols. I can see connections between his work and the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist I have drawn influence from in the past, and whose recent exhibition at the Barbican Centre reignited my interest in visual signs and symbols as a form of communication. Both artists create a kind of code that invites the audience to decipher meaning from. This notion is something I aim to explore in my own practice.


Grafitti art is another classification of visual language that is challenging to decipher. I saw this piece on a garage door in Amsterdam and found myself stopping to try to read what it said and find meaning in the letters.


Sarah Ee GDCP PM7000  
Sarah Ee GDCP PM7000