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What does the word Visionaries bring to mind? Influential minds in science, literature the arts perhaps or people outside of their time and place seeing something others can’t grasp? Its an ambiguous title and open to lots of interpretations, which is why this particular word was selected as the working theme for the Fourth VaroomLab conference this November. It cleverly follows on from the theme of last year’s event held at the Arts University Bournemouth which chose ‘Interpretation’

I was fortunate enough to be on the steering group that settled for this theme, having been to the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 I was taken back by the overarching title and breath of the central pavilion The Encyclopedic Palace. This was chosen by Massimiliano Gioni who in turn was inspired by Marino Auriti. Auriti patented an imaginary palace that would house all the world’s knowledge, of course like many dreams it remained just that. But the idea of having a wish fulfillment, a dream or vision has offered writers and artists hope and an oft-needed muse.

The papers received for the conference have a wide-ranging selection of themes and subjects and its worth mentioning the ideas of science fiction writers such as JG Ballard and William Gibson whose themes run through many thoughts concerning visionary ideas.

The two-day conference will consist of 20 minute presentations of peer reviewed papers, a number of pecha kucha presentations (the challenging 20 slides at 20 seconds each) and key note speakers from the illustration industry.

The conference, organised by the UK's Association of Illustrators, The conference will encompass presentations on:

  • The illustrated map as a mode of communicating fact, fiction and feeling
  • How the potential of digital technologies can be reclaimed
  • The founding mission of the AOI and how its legacy has impacted on current Illustration practice
  • An alternative future for the illustration community through autonomous models of free, creative education
  • Film on the manifestations of vision in contemporary illustration practice.

So what do we hope to gather from this event, well most delegates come from a background in visual arts, many from academia and they use this occasion for networking, enjoying a lively discourse around their subject and sharing best practice.

Past conferences have looked at themes such as boundaries and spatialising Illustration and have resulted in a journal of the papers.