Winter Aubergine – Commentary

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This is both part of the second assignment and ‘Meta Study’ – my own deeply reflective look at how I work and how I can change how I work.

I had this idea that I could get inside my own inspiration. In this case my tutor responded to my frustration about having to do more “Fruit and Veg” with encouragement about “using this frustration creatively” to sell the stuff to the masses, who are obviously resistant. This led me to thinking about just how much pressure I could put on them… without thinking about what is usual… what is more extreme?

I’ve created a scenario where “mafia” tactics are being used by supermarkets. The veg is taken hostage and will be killed if you don’t buy it. One of the things I’m hoping to tackle is my own reserve about using the good ideas that I come up with – I have doubts or miss the potential somehow. For this scenario, forget about reality, this is war and terror.



In this sketch I’ve tried to capture the emotional states of three people on the train during the Aubergine War – the figure in the centre is not overtly carrying an Aubergine… something that might be construed as not caring that they will die if you don’t buy them. The right hand figure is looking suspiciously at her and the left hand figure is absorbed by her own rescued veg.

The Aubergines themselves have come out quite well despite only being rendered in purple and green pencil. I’ve left one white area for ‘shine’ to help show their surface type and nature. Set against the much more rough and colourless figures drawn in various grades of black charcoal pencil the fruit looks smarter.

What is also interesting about the context of the tube train is that, if you take out the back story and the veg in the picture, it still makes sense – people on the London Underground have a strong English sense of ignoring their fellow travellers and it can feel uncomfortable when this convention is broken. I like that the central figure’s eyes stare right at the viewer – asking for help or imploring understanding.

In the title I wrote “Where is your Aubergine, comrade?” because I’d drawn a Russian-looking hat on the suspicious one and I thought about how this might stretch to a situation where individualism is frowned upon – you must be like everybody for the common good.

Badge of Honour


The lapel pin came out of the story – it was the next step in the unravelling tale so I considered what I could do to make such a pin. The inspiration cam from seeing the material – an offcut of a shiney silver film – which I drew a very simple aubergine shape onto and cut out. This is the simplest (almos) representation of an aubergine.

I know from experience that reflective materials do not look reflective at all when scanned – they become black or white or otherwise plain. The texture of any mirror-like material is entirely revealed by what is reflected in it… the surface is barely visible most of the time. For these photographs I tried a number of backgrounds – coloured paper, lights etc – to see how the illustration changed according to its surroundings.

The next step in the story might be the revelation of the opposite faction… the objectors who deliberately do not wear these pins or those who wear something to display their refusal to be subject to The Supermarket’s demands.


The backlash of “Pick Your Own” now brings this battle of Fruit and Veg to the point where it can become an allegory for a current day crisis – Immigration.

The Aubergines represent the Immigrants ‘Out of Season’ veg from abroad with the supermarkets using ‘propaganda’ to suggest that the British shopper should pay to save them from the war and/or drowning on an illegal journey to our shores etc. Although framed as a threat, this could be just a slant of the story – the other side yet to be revealed.

The strawberry motto “Pick Your Own” can now neatly be perceived as a Nationalist expression intended to deny charity to the foreigner.

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The black armband and strawberry logo is reminiscent of the Nazi  red armband  utilising the black swastika which has been a peaceful symbol since 3000BC. The actions that the Nazi’s associated with the swastika forever tarnished its reputation outside of certain ‘legitimate’ (and peaceful) religions. Turning the British Strawberry into a nationalist symbol might also be seen as an unfortunate turn for the strawberry.


This flag is a black ink line drawing which has been scanned and coloured in Photoshop. It looks a lot ‘flatter’ than I had intended – I would have liked the lines to better describe the hidden dimension of the subject by describing the roundness of the vegetable. The lines, of course, are not on the subject – I’ve put them there to describe the degree of shading.

Aubergine-05-Flag-OptionsPossible motifs for a flag. Very simplified. How simplified can an aubergine be while still looking like an aubergine? Does it need shine? Can the shine be really simple? Flag ‘rules’ say that the motif should be very simple and adding more detail is to move away from an effective flag.

The pro-aubergine propaganda is centred around creating a story for the vegetable – that it is in need of purchase to rescue it.


These ideas and a later depiction of a group of aubergines in a boat suggest a graphic novel approach where the plight of the aubergine and the customers’ role in saving it are both played out for the customer to identify with.

Australia actually issued a graphic novel showing how the outcome of attempting to enter Australia would result in failure. When I tried to look for the full version I couldn’t find it but I did find a lot of statistics, pie charts etc. these are in stark contrast to the very human condition of immigration… or the very vegetable condition of the aubergine… the pie charts struck me as being a bit like the boxes that graphic novels are set out in.

Emerging Final Ideas

Based my my exploration of the Winter Aubergine fiction I’m seeing two distinct ways to appeal to a customer:

  • Strawberry: National Pride, sense of belonging, tradition
  • Aubergine: Sense of duty, doing the ‘right thing’, selfless acts

The strawberry approach is the easier one as an idea – it falls into place quite easily as strawberries already have a national appeal.

The aubergine approach is still fiction – they are not actually refugees that need rescuing or hostages that need saving but they are a little ‘exotic’ or ‘different’. So this has become more about the route of appeal – how to call to the psyche of the shopper using the same kind of leverage as ‘sympathy’ would.

This doesn’t sound like an ideal kind of campaign but there might be pre-existing examples:

Puppies on a roll: the cute brown eyes of a Labrador-Retriever are obviously irresistible

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This is a drawing I made of a moment from the movie Bitter Lake – a documentary that tried to explain the truth behind the middle east conflict – it’s quite an eye-opener. I don’t know who this is – she is in a hospital, has not right arm below the elbow, a bandaged left hand and the right side of her face and right eye are gruesomely scarred. In the fil she is posed in a hospital chair for the camera in a dress, with a gold crown or tiara and a red flower. Her socks have a heart pattern on them. She is about seven years old.

This felt to be one of the most extreme forms of propaganda – the use of an injured civilian child to paint the enemy as child murderers. I would like to try to use imagery like this – the most extreme and morally questionable – to sell the Aubergines. It represents the most extreme version of threat – to dangle the life of a child before your choices. This also mirrors recent political events where images and representations of the dead refugee boy in the red t-shirt have gone viral on social media and evoked a reaction in Parliament.

Just stumbled across Margaret D. H. Keane’s paintings of people with very large eyes… they are very engaging! This style could fit well in the Aubergine campaign! After a few trials I see I can also have tears and/or smile. The whole big eys thing has a very refugee look – I think it derives from third-world people of diminutive proportions (due to malnutrition) where the eyes are genuinely larger relative to the amount of flesh they have left on their bodies.



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