Rachel Lillie: Journeys

Rachel reports on her involvement at House of Illustration over the past weeks - as reporter, teacher, and Illustrator in Residence.


  • Rachel Lillie
  • Residency

Time seems to be moving extremely fast. I very much feel like I am on the peak of this 'Odyssey' I set out on, facing challenges - and rising to them. I was conscious about how I would re-engage with the physical space the House of Illustration and its new inhabitants – the visitors and volunteers. Along with my constant ruminating and research about where the project is taking me – or where I'm taking it – I've been busy planning and delivering several workshops over the past few weeks to take place in the House of Illustration's fantastic education suite.

This was a great challenge as well as a great chance to put into practice and share some of the techniques and ideas I've been working with during the residency, along with some tried and tested ones. We focused on how to engage with a place/space through drawing and exploring by responding to set tasks – it was interesting and thought-provoking to see how others responded to the challenge. We walked along Regents Canal, recording our surroundings and seeing things with new eyes, using the water as a symbol for this idea of journey and the crossing between the conscious and the unconscious. Above all it was a learning curve for myself, and brilliant to engage with others curious about reportage.

Staying close to this idea of 'Odyssey' and exploration, the next workshop was a huge test for the House and for myself: working with 75 children from Deptford – who were facing their own challenges during the summer in their transition from primary school to secondary. A key milestone in life - it's a pretty big deal! We looked at the idea of the classic Hero's Journey in mythology: departure, challenge and return - usually going through some sort of transformation in the process. We designed our own hero characters and explored through drawing how to depict the three key episodes in a story.

All these workshop ideas are prominent themes in my work, responding to what I've witnessed over the course of my time at House of Illustration and explored in the Open Studio I've been holding every Tuesday. Moving in from my own studio to the space in the House has really helped in being able to physically organise my work into three key episodes. It's been a great way to move my thinking and experimenting forward into production mode, as I share my experiences with the visitors popping in to say hello, and ask them questions in return.

That's it for now – but I'll be back soon with more about the progress of 'Odyssey'.