The Red Tree By Shaun Tan Essay

Moving beyond cliché, I sought painted images that might further explore the expressive possibilities of this kind of shared imagination, which could be at once strange and familiar.

A nameless young girl appears in every picture, a stand-in for ourselves; she passes helplessly through many dark moments, yet ultimately finds something hopeful at the end of her journey.

is a story without any particular narrative; a series of distinct imaginary worlds as self-contained images which invite readers to draw their own meaning in the absence of any written explanation.

As a concept, the book is inspired by the impulse of children and adults alike to describe feelings using metaphor - monsters, storms, sunshine, rainbows and so on.

The picture book ‘the red tree’ written and illustrated by Shaun tan, conveys his perspective of the world with the effective use of literary and visual techniques such as symbolism, foreshadowing and the extended visual metaphor of the girl in the bottle on the ‘nobody understands’ page.

began an experimental narrative more than anything else: the idea of a book without a story.

I've always loved Chris Van Allsburg's classic picture book ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ (1984) which is a great example of word-picture enigmas, exhibiting partial fragments of unknown stories and leaving the reader to use their imagination.

This was a fascinating project, and a welcome opportunity to work in collaboration with artists from very different disciplines, and see how they went about interpreting the book, and in turn how audiences responded to this.

The ideas of the original book are very broad and I think point more to a method of expression – of ‘emotional worlds’ - rather than any very specific content, so it not only endures variable interpretations, it almost demands them.

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