an excerpt from

Elephants,

         black holes,

     and washing

             machines

 Daphne Christoforou on illustrating ‘visual manuals’ for life

an excerpt from

Elephants,

         black holes,

     and washing

             machines

 Daphne Christoforou on illustrating ‘visual manuals’ for life

an excerpt from

Elephants,

         black holes,

     and   washing

        machines

 Daphne Christoforou on illustrating ‘visual manuals’ for life

words Samantha Shields
photos Panagiotis Mina

After earning a master’s degree in visual communication from the Royal College of Art in London, Daphne Christoforou came home to the island of Cyprus, where the 30-year-old illustrator is now based. She talked to Perfect Strangers in her studio just off the church square in Old Kaimakli, a sleepy bohemian suburb of the island’s capital Nicosia, made up of a jumble of narrow streets dotted with traditional workshops and coffee shops. As the bright light of a Mediterranean morning reflected off the yellow stone buildings, our conversation over little cups of strong, black Cyprus coffee ranged from Daphne’s ancient Buddhist and Hindu influences, through the books she’s reading to fashion design.

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The 19th-century building housing Daphne’s studio has been in her family for six generations. Consisting of a warren of rooms surrounding her mother’s weaving workshop, it has four functioning antique Cypriot painted looms, and displays of handmade shawls and cushion covers. But Daphne’s own work is anything but traditional, and her influences reach far beyond her native Cyprus. Her distinctive narrative illustrations draw upon images and ideas from eastern philosophies and artworks, and playfully meld ancient and contemporary elements.

“The main reason I have these influences from India, from Tibet, from China,” Daphne explains, “is because I’m drawn to the philosophies.” No-Thing, a stunning wall-hanging which won the V&A Museum Student Illustrator of the Year Award in 2015, was inspired by the Buddhist ideal of banishing attachment, boredom, fear, and pain. “The philosophy came first and then I started looking at the pictures and then the sculptures,” Daphne says. “And what I really liked about it was that they are symbols to be deciphered. It’s as if the images offer advice on universal matters such as suffering in life and how to deal with it.”

The central image in No-Thing features a man seated on a white elephant over a black hole, representing perfection and emptiness of mind, surrounded by figures depicting the four undesirable states. The figures are interspersed with various motifs, while a floral border encircles the entire work. Daphne hopes that her work, like the eastern art she is drawn to, can offer a kind of visual manual for life, both for herself and for her viewers, no matter where they come from.


Find the rest of this article on Daphne in Issue One

The central image in No-Thing features a man seated on a white elephant over a black hole, representing perfection and emptiness of mind, surrounded by figures depicting the four undesirable states. The figures are interspersed with various motifs, while a floral border encircles the entire work. Daphne hopes that her work, like the eastern art she is drawn to, can offer a kind of visual manual for life, both for herself and for her viewers, no matter where they come from.


Find the rest of this article on Daphne in Issue One

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

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