'Once Upon A Small Universe' is a picturebook I made during the Covid-19 lockdown. It was made through mixed media including; photography, illustration, digital painting & collage and creative writing. The story, in brief, depicts an elderly woman called Jojo as the protagonist. She is a miniaturist and dreams about being small enough to live inside the miniatures. Jojo falls asleep and enters a parallel state of consciousness in which she has shrunk and travels through the miniatures. She becomes lost and distressed and cannot find her way home. Eventually she returns to reality, changed by the experience. The creation of the story and the protagonist was inspired by (if not directly representative of) my Grandmother, Jojo who makes miniature models. The character and story are fictional, however, based on real life people and experience. The imagery is also a combination of real life and fictional drawing, therefore the whole book exists somewhere between reality and fiction. The project explores themes of family, ageing, memory, home and reality.
There are layers of underlying meaning and a hidden narrative that can be symbolic of the health and wellbeing of the elderly. When the protagonist enters a parallel state of consciousness she loses concept of time and space, this confusion represents the declining mental function of humans as we age. The story is playful but acts as an analogy for serious collective concerns we have about the physical and mental health of our elders. I think it is important to create platforms and conversation starters to make the topic easier to address, I hope my book can function as a way of preparing children for the deteriorating wellbeing of their grandparents.