"Little Boy": Artwork for Text Book

An interpretation of the atomic bomb, named "Little Boy", set off at Hiroshima, Japan. Artwork for a lesson in "Planning and Effectively Delivering the GCSE Dance Specification".

Brief supplied: The work needed to fit the themes in Picasso's "Guernica", to overcome copyright issues in reproducing his work commercially.

This is one of my favourite paintings, though not something I would like to hang on my wall. The artwork had to fulfil quite a complex brief,  to suit all the themes from Picasso’s painting “Guernica” which the text book’s author picked out for her lesson plan. However, the cost of reproducing the original painting in the text book meant the publishers chose to commission an original work that encapsulated the themes discussed by the author.

My starting point was the painting “The Great Wave” by Katsushika Hokusai, which I used as reference for the mushroom cloud in the background. The paint under this was applied to evoke both a shattered cityscape and the idea that the paint itself was peeling and decaying. The figures are in a more Manga style, moving the imagery from a traditional Japanese style to a modern one, reflecting the ongoing legacy of the bomb blast at Hiroshima.

The figures are wearing colours in autumnal shades close to the blast and becoming more verdant further away, ending with the child in the bottom corner. The distorted shapes of the blast-flung bodies were a particular requirement for the illustration in the text book, as a starting point for the dancers’ interpretations of the event.

The text is a literal translation of the nickname the American’s gave their atom bomb: it means “Little Boy.”