What's the point of symbols?


Symbolism is the shorthand of storytelling...

If there is such a thing as a ‘true artist’ they probably work and think like David Shillinglaw. His beautiful work appears around the world in galleries, books and streets. He drew the creative map on our curate's egg logo.

So, David, what's the point of symbols?

We use symbols to tell stories, gossip, create myths, record history and play games.

Anything can be or become a symbol, a colour, a word, a series of dots or lines, a face, an entire planet.

This ability to visualise, record and pass on information is key to our cognitive ability and communication. Symbols and signs are a form of magic, words and numbers cast a spell, they can make us laugh and cry, they can encourage or denounce.

The power invested in symbols can change our consciousness, through religious teachings, medical diagrams or in advertising or political propaganda.

Symbols and semiotics are one of the most powerful human inventions, and the ability to create and pass on symbols is one of the major leaps that separates us from the animal kingdom.

 ‘Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak’.

John Berger, Ways Of Seeing. 


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