Review

The Book Of Change: Images to Inspire Revelations and Revolutions

Candy Bedworth 27 December 2021 min Read

Stop shopping! I have the answer to all your seasonal present buying dilemmas right here. The Book Of Change. Images and Symbols to Inspire Revelations and Revolutions by Stephen Ellcock is a gorgeous, thought-provoking new book that can’t fail to please. “How can one book suit all my gifting needs” I hear you ask?  Well, read on and all will be revealed!

Eclectic and Surprising

The Book Of Change contains almost 300 full-color art images, from a huge variety of time periods, cultures, and continents. There are seven sections, titled: Source, Fall, Connections, Loss, Lies, Rise, and finally, Hope. We begin with origin stories, moving through the ups and downs of existence, ending in our current, turbulent times. A time of huge inequality yes, but still with the potential for change. Each section also contains quotes from leaders, activists, artists, and writers from throughout history.

Stephen Ellcock,Edvard Munch, The Sun, 1911

Edvard Munch, The Sun, 1911, Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway.

Battling Injustice

Stephen Ellcock highlights the environmental challenges and the social injustice we face while offering hope that a better world is within reach. The book is a response to his own lifelong feeling of alienation and dislocation, and the current situation we find ourselves in in 2021. He states:

I am continually driven by an overwhelming, gnawing frustration at the injustices of the world and an intense desire for something better.

Stephen Ellcock, Dorothea Lange, Abandoned Dust Bowl House, 1935-40

Dorothea Lange, Abandoned Dust Bowl House, 1935-1940, J Paul Getty Museum, New York, NY, USA.

Philosophy

Although not to be confused with The Book Of Changes (or I Ching as it is also known), the two books do share similarities. The I Ching has been consulted for over 3,000 years as a guide to philosophy and ethical living. It is the effort of the human mind to place itself within the universe.

This Book Of Change feels like a visual update to that ancient text, a nudge that we really aren’t doing so good, that we have gone off track. Stephen Ellcock says that the book “is born of a longstanding opposition to the way things are” and with it he aims “to provoke reflection, revelation and action.”

Stephen Ellcock,El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919

Dorothea Lange,Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1919. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

Who Is Stephen Ellcock?

A popular social media curator, Stephen Ellcock is based in London, UK. He has 296,000 followers on Instagram and 287,000 on Facebook. He delights his followers with a profusion of inspiring images. In a time of lockdowns and fear of public spaces, this is a wonderful online museum of wonders from around the globe. The Book Of Change is a drawing together of this ongoing project transferred into glorious print. On one day (or one page) we might see a Renaissance Madonna, the next an example of documentary photography, the next an African ceramic. Ellcock lays before us the vast shared potential and creative energy of all mankind.

Stephen Ellcock,Kathe Kollwitz, The Mothers, 1921-22

Käthe Kollwitz, The Mothers, 1921-1922, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

My aim was to combine fragments of the visual culture of the past – drawing upon as many different traditions, geographical locations, and eras as possible – with work by contemporary artists and photographers and illustrators, extracting inspiration from the raw material of the world to create a unique patchwork that attempts to reimagine existence.

Stephen Ellcock

The Book Of Change, September Publishing 2021.

Stephen Allcock,Cycladic Female Figurine, ca 2500-2400 BCE

Cycladic Female Figurine, ca. 2500-2400 BCE, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MA, USA.

A Cabinet of Curiosities

Here at DailyArt, we have explored the Wunderkammer, the cabinet of curiosities. This book is a modern, hand-held version, featuring reproductions of art, photography, and objects from cultures throughout history. But it is not just traditional visual art or sculpture. Stephen Ellcock disdains the traditional cataloging methods of old-school art historians. He rummages in the archives for anything precious – book covers, botanical illustrations, collage, mosaics, maps, and quilt designs. Everything has the potential to be art and to be inspiring. His methods are powerful and provocative, even subversive.

By reassembling, repurposing, and repositioning fragments of the past and combining them with new visions and fresh ways of seeing, a collage of unfamiliar, unspoiled possibilities can emerge, exorcising the ghosts of struggles, failures, and traumas past, providing glimpses of a better world, of overgrown paths in the clearing, of potential routes out of crisis into a brighter, bolder future.

Stephen Ellcock

The Book Of Change, September Publishing, 2021.

Stephen Ellcock,Walter Crane, A Garland For May Day, 1895

Walter Crane, A Garland For May Day, 1895, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

Homeless

The author/curator of this book has himself dealt with serious trauma – experiencing homelessness plus drink and drug-related problems. Later, even while compiling the book, he was recovering from a debilitating illness. Stephen Ellcock’s first foray into art curating was via his Facebook page, and now it is his whole life. He works from home, spending all of his free time on Facebook. He confesses that he is totally unsuited to ‘conventional’ work, although his new high profile has ensured work coming in from publishers, artists, designers, and record labels. He also edits and writes text for gift books and children’s books.

Stephen Ellcock,Ceren Muftuoglu, Kybele figure, 2018

Ceren Muftuoglu, Kybele figure, 2018, Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY, USA.

A Treasure Trove

Any reader could enjoy this book. It is a wonderful treasure trove to sit and browse, to dip in and out of. Or it can be read as an inspirational route-map to personal and political transformation. It contains within it a whole tapestry of images that acknowledge our global shared potential. And if this isn’t the moment for that, then when?

So, put down those socks and bath salts. As promised, your Christmas gifting plan is complete. You’re welcome!

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