Situated Ilustration

The Royal Academy of Arts describes Illustration as a fundamental discipline of visual communication, recognizing it as an “understanding of the context of our work and in how ideas can be framed, transmitted and received by our intended audiences”. Within the pathway of illustration the RA separates the course to two subject matters; Narrative context and Situated Illustration. 

The practice of Situated illustration. This explores the relationships between the illustrative practice and the use of sites to inform works, in other words  creating work in relation to a certain location or a place. 

Situated illustration causes the artist to have to interact with space and therefore the content and context it provides. How can Visual Communication appropriate a chosen space as a medium and how does it engage with its subject matter? Can Situated illustration of a subject shed further light onto a sites being or presence? Do site works, inform the audience or artist further to subjects relevant to the site?

Investigation of this requires researching it’s origins, practitioners and practices within site specificity. I have begun this though analyzing the writings of Miwon Kwon in her book “One Place To Another”, inspecting a critical view of the history of site-specific art since the late 1960 and its theoretical framework examining the complexity of site specificity and the connotations between location and identity.

Land art being one of the practices within site specificity, that can provide some enlightenment between location and identity, in regard of being a practice that utilizes natural materials, as sites. Involving artists such as, Richard Long and his “simple creative acts of walking and marking”, to Vik Muniz and his work in Brazil with trash, that became the documentary called “Lixo Extraordinario”.

Also inquiring into other practices within the site specificity such as, intervention work, happenings, performances, public art, street photography and street installations. Looking at artists such as Gordon Matta Clark, Joshua Harris, The Boyle family and others that can help a further understanding of site specific art.


With regard to engaging with this practice of site specificity, creating a specific boundary for a subject or site to work within consistently, is necessary to provide an area to analyze and report on to see what this practice can allow one to gain. 

Urban environments are becoming ever more present, most countries seeing a trend toward the phenomena of urbanization. According to the united nations by 2050 the prediction is that cities will inhabit 70% of the worlds population. This shows the urban environment is becoming more prevalent and present as a common site occupied by persons.

This trend toward change in habituation to urban environments makes them a vastly relevant site for a current audience. 

I myself moving to London from a less populated city Lisbon also created a personal interest to these types of environments, specifically London being an engaging city with many characteristics, like a vast transportation system, a high number of inhabitants , a 24 hours city that possesses a large number of sites to base my exploration upon.

Urban spaces come as big things to unpick, the content of a city being extremely vast, with habitants reaching numbers, 8,674 million counted in 2015 living in London, requirements for these people such as Housing, water, electricity, food, logistics, various transport system, Immigration and Tourism, creating peoples of many backgrounds and a flow of differing populous, establishing diversity, many differing jobs sectors, people of differing economic standing these are only a few of the characteristic of the content of a city.

Due to its vast characteristics in cities ,a greater specificity is required then to generate a site that I may use for this task.

Transport is a key toward the use of the city, fundamental for its habitants,  allowing the full use of the city. Still as a topic contains a large amount of content, from personal to public, structural requirements, cost, location (water, subterranean, air-bourne, etc) and its various ways of functioning (from boats to trains).

The ways in which Transport appears from city to city is also varied, geographical elements and economic policy affecting this.

Through documenting and drawing upon this site and the appearance of transportation within London, I can attempt to analyze the way in which ways the engagement with this site will inform my situated illustration and my relationship with the subject. I have begun to examine the features of transportation and considering how I may create situated works.


Analyzing how the timings of an ever running transport system could show how this affects its users by limits transportation at different times. These could be early work shifts, peak time transportation or traffic on the highways and streets. 

Documentation of the different vehicles of transportation, could present, the types of users and the ways in which people behave from vehicle to vehicle. Looking at cars, motorbikes, pedal bikes, boats, trains, vans, etc… The choice of vehicle being factors that affect people through cost, time and location.

An investigation on the history of transport within London, achieving this, visiting the transport museum and historical archives such as the bishops archive to gather historic references towards my subject. Gathering documents, maps and books on the history of the city of London to aid my view of the site. Collecting information on how it has come to be, the many different transport mediums, the improvement of this through time, should give a wider understanding of how transportation within London has progressed. This then allowing me to have a considered view of how to approach and also what I can approach when looking at transport in this city.

Observing difference between public and private transportation in appearance, users, abilities, size and location.

Also to explore the Current expansion of transport uses, much like the Heathrow or gatwick expansion, and Crossrail, by an investigation through researching upon critics toward the subject.

Both of these points could bring up  a better understanding and dialogue to its current form. 

I intend to use this as my site to build work upon, though observation, investigation

I believe the practice of site drawing of the users and uses of transport will give me a view toward, the timings, cost, constraints, behaviors and attitudes toward transportation within the city.

Creating a focused target within the exploration of situated illustration, thought researching upon, historical context also combined with documentation, achieved from photography, drawing from the people and the places and archival information on the subject. this could provide further knowledge toward transportation and the practice of site specificity.

Academic research combined with the practice of experimental learning, how learning and creating from experiences through site observation, and research on a site can inform and create a more didactic approach to learning and investigation, for then to reflect on these in order to connect it to my studio practice of situated illustration.

After achieving this investigation, with a wider knowledge of history and definitions within the subject of site specificity and situated illustration, seeing how this will allow me to connect these two subjects to my studio practice, also looking on how to create art works from documentation and site experience acquired,

Applying this to my studio practice using the flexibility of mediums within illustration, observational drawing, drawing from memory, photography. Print (from etching to linocut to silk and screen printing), texture work, intervention, etc…

Exploring methods of public engagement through situated illustration, and working upon this practice, I myself feel that this could complement my own practice, and by focussing it on a  specific site could deliver different perspectives on how to approach differing themes and concepts of creating work .

In order to create work along side an investigation to the subject, allowing me to explore the practice of situated illustration and to gain a better knowledge on the subject of site specificity.

Considering how far those this practice allows the artist to produce work and how how ideas can be reviewed,transmitted and inform our audience further.