Drawing Words

The English Project's Artist in Residence, Mary Kuper, was supported by the Leverhulme Trust to create illustrated etymologies of 25 words. You can see some of her work on this page. The entire collection of posters was exhibited in Winchester from 10th June to 8th July 2011.

Mary Kuper is a distinguished illustrator with experience in publishing, public art and education.

She says ‘I work as an illustrator, but I also have a background in linguistics, a combination of interests that led me to look at ways in which the multiple dimensions of a word could be communicated visually. There is another reason too why I find this material so compelling. I grew up in many places and have not felt any sense of ownership of landscape or cultural identity - an illustrator without a theme, until I started to explore language itself. There is a surreal and poetic quality to the words as glimpses of a submerged past are revealed through the play between text and image. I hope that these illustrated etymologies will invite a larger audience to enjoy these shifting meanings, an awareness of which can lend an almost dreamlike quality to everyday language.’

‘This has been a wonderful opportunity for the English Project,’ says Professor Christopher Mulvey, a Trustee. ‘Mary Kuper has produced graphics that show that something new that can be done with words. Mary is a brilliant artist; it has been a privilege to work with her.’


Mary has produced a book in association with this work.  It contains full colour illustrations of etymologies of 8 of her words together with comments by Prof Chris Mulvey (36 pages in total). To order a copy of 'Etymologies: Plants & Animals' (£6 + P&P) or to order A3 prints of any of her Drawing Words illustrations or to discuss Drawing Words, please contact Mary eXpress@marykuper.com .