Children’s Stories

As this unit is story telling I thought about what story telling meant o me and of course I instantly think of children’s stories and fairy tales. For this project I decided I was going to create a modern version of the iconic stories I grew up with. }I thought that this could not only have a comedic aspect but also hold a message about todays society. Although we all dream of  fairy tales often they couldn’t but more different to the real world. I thought that this could be an interesting concept and that I would recreate children’s tales giving them a contemporary modern twist.

With this in mind I looked at artists who have used previously published books to give their own work, or found imagery a different meaning. I found artists such as Cristina DeMiddel, Alec Soth, Christian Patterson and Broomberg and Chanarin. All of which use iconic publications mad by other people, including telephone books, the holy bible, Chinese political books and War documentations to inhabit their own work. Not only does this give their images a new dimension it also gives a new life and meaning to the books that they have taken over. All these pieces inspired me in different ways and I will use them all to influence my own work.

One I had an initial idea and a concept and I was inspired by my researched artists, I started to look at old children’s books to see what messages they portray and to try and figure out how I could change it to make it relevant to modern life. I bought as many old children’s books I could find and analysed them in different ways. I looked at different aspects of the publications, including the story itself, the way the text is laid out and the way the illustrations in the book are spread across the pages. All these aspects influence which book I will pick to recreate. These are important factors as I hope to use the original book and add in my own images, coving the illustrations but still being relevant to the text. I also want to change, edit and take out words in the style of Christina Demiddel in her publication ‘Party’ to change the meaning and context of the words in comparison to their original subject matter.

I began buying and reading old children’s books, famous tales such as  ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, The Ugly Duckling’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Cinderella’. I wanted to pick well known stories as when I change the world I want people to still know what the original text was about. I looked at the morals, themes, messages and stereotype within these well loved fairy tales. All too often the main character I is a girl who needs a man to save her. The woman is also often portrayed in a  ‘housewife; role, for example taking care of all the cooking, cleaning, washing and general house work, while the male figure, wether it be husband, son, father or a prince, is given a role of importance, he is nearly always the breadwinner, and we see him depicted as a strong character who provides for the girl. Many tales characterise the female role as a ‘Damsel in Distress’ who’s quality of life can’t improve until a man saves her.

Gender stereotypes and roles are something that is a key aspect of today society. More and more we see rigid gender stereotype becoming more flexible and the strict boundaries of gender are disintegrating more and more. We see this in the within occupations, hobbies and general day to day life, the old fashion expectations of each gender are no more, yet they are still apparent in our well known and loved fairy tales. This aspect of children books is what interested me and what I wanted to experiment with.

During my research into gender roles in children’s books I came across the ‘Key Words Reading Scheme Books’ by Ladybird. These were children’s books that were popular in he 1960’s, the main characters were ‘Peter’ and ‘Jane’, and the duo is what the books are more commonly referred to. A lot has changed in society since the 60’s in terms of the roles parents and gender take on, so I wanted to purchase some ‘Peter and Jane’ stories and see how the different characters were portrayed.









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