Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Student has designs on Homer's poem

Silvie Kilgallon is embroidering all 24 books of Homer's celebrated poem the Iliad (Bhagesh Sachania/University of Bristol/PA)
Silvie Kilgallon is embroidering all 24 books of Homer's celebrated poem the Iliad (Bhagesh Sachania/University of Bristol/PA)

A student is making a stitch in time by embroidering all 24 books of Homer's celebrated poem the Iliad.

Silvie Kilgallon has begun her mammoth task of representing each letter in the ancient Greek text with an individual stitch.

The University of Bristol PhD student is denoting different letters in different shades of red for the first book.

She will then change the colour of one letter in the alphabet for each book from red to blue - with the final book being entirely blue.

Ms Kilgallon, who has already spent 78 days working on the embroidery, documents her progress in her blog, Stitched Iliad.

"I started the project in response to a curator showing me a newly built, empty gallery space and asking me what I would put in it," she said.

"My mind immediately sprang to the Iliad. I'd been researching translation, transmission and reception of text issues, so my immediate question to myself was 'Can I produce a translation of the text that allows an audience of non-classicists to appreciate it without understanding the text itself?'

"The colour translation was my solution."

The initial red colour scheme was inspired by the war, anger and bloodshed featured in the Iliad, which is believed to have been written between 750 and 650 BC.

Homeric Greek also did not have many names for colours, with the famous description of the 'wine dark sea' appearing several times throughout Homer's writing.

Research has shown that cultures generally follow a similar order in developing names for colour, with black, white and red developed first.

Blue is always one of the final colours to be named.

Ms Kilgallon said this was the reason the project starts in the primal colour of red before transitioning to blue, a colour indicative of a more technologically developed society.

The colour change throughout the translations can be seen as representative of the transmission of the text from the mythic 'Homer' to modern-day readers.

Ms Kilgallon works on the piece in public places to prompt conversations about the Iliad with her audience.

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