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Visual Communication (MA)

Tamar Ben Joya

I’m a visual communicator, illustrator and graphic designer based in London. I grew up in Israel, graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem in 2018. Since then I’ve been working as a graphic designer and as a freelance illustrator/storyteller.

As a peron who grew up in an environment of conflict, I have always been attracted to historical features, the unattractive elements of the places around me, and the visual possibilities of the representation of periphery sites and topics. I’m passionate about the connections between history, nature, memory and locality, and eager to explore the visual details of those topics to create a story. 

Through visual and textual research, I’m building my illustrations with close attention to detail and technique, while exploring the features - and most often mundane ones - of the world around me. And by reforming those, I hope to reclaim the story that is being told and expose the viewer to a new point of view.

pencil sketch illustration of stones and archaeological artifacts

My practice as a visual communicator has always been focused on the relationships and interactions between people, nature, sustainability, culture and memory. I find those topics and the connections between them to be inspiring grounds for visual interpretations, both in graphic and illustrative ways. 

I’m eager to find ways through which my practice can influence my surroundings: How can the creation of a visual asset contribute to a narrative that is yet untold? How can I help represent another point of view?

In my recent research at the RCA, I focused on the weaving between history and illustration, the signification of focusing on the details from the perspective of historians, that can be used as a tool for the illustrator to explore the visual details, form a narrative or describe a story which has been lost through time.

My research has been focused on the re-creation of historical visual memory that has been lost during the Holocaust in WW2. I was focused on the bunkers which were built in the Warsaw ghetto during 1943. 

These bunkers were built under unbelievable circumstances of deprivation and fear. The people who built them used incredible creative engineering solutions, believing those spaces might save them from the unavoidable end in the death camp of Treblinka.

The Israeli narrative tends to push those stories aside in the historical narration of the Warsaw ghetto, though the people who were hiding there displayed a form of resistance and bravery, as a population under traumatic circumstances.  

I have searched through various archives for Holocaust survivors’ testimonies to find information about those spaces. Each testimony I found includes different information I can use visually in my process. Therefore, my textual research aims to find visual traces.

In my illustration practice, I have tried to reform and recreate those places of bunkers which have been lost [both physically and historically] using illustration, sound, and AI, to give a chance to those creative spaces, people, information and stories to be told once again. 

I bound my research together through a research book which holds my archival, visual and academic research. I aimed to create an informative piece which investigates each testimony and information I gathered, in order to reform a fertile ground for continuous visual research. 

gouache illustration of a man walked in flamed city
spreads from the book Things That Are Lost
pencil sketch of a maze into an oven inspired by a Holocaust testimony
spreads from the book Things That Are Lost
Sound mapping sound tracing with pencil of a Holocaust testimony
ink illustrations composition testing from Holocaust survivor's testimonies
spreads from the book Things That Are Lost
ink illustrations composition testing from Holocaust survivor's testimonies
Sound MappingA series of attempts to map the silences, pauses and unspoken descriptions in a Holocaust survivor’s testimony.
ink illustrations composition testing from Holocaust survivor's testimonies
gouache illustrations of a wall and people next to a big box

Mudlarking in the Thames, Historical connections, diaspora

In this site-specific one-term research, I have experience with (licensed) mudlarking. Mudlarking is the act of searching for valuable/historical artefacts in the Thames during low tide. Through it, I reflected on the relationships of power between the two nations - the United Kingdom and Israel. I was observing the British mandate and its influences, through the lens of historical artefacts: who owns the power to search them in Israel? What is open/closed to the public? And how do those found objects influence Israel's reality, in comparison to the UK?.

artifacts and conglomerates in a colorful illustration
pencil drawing in a broken grid mudlarking and historical artifacts
Archival information from the British Mandate over Palestine in a stone shape composition
archive document on the background of Thames foreshore
black and white artifacts found while mudlarking
artifacts found while mudlarking on the Thames
sketch of connections and relationships
artifacts found while mudlarking on the Thames