A friend of mine, just returning from China, Paula Rees, experienced the razor’s edge of the darkest anguish in Sichuan, China. As did many of us. But that was nothing compared to the Chinese themselves — the survivors — those that were left.

And she had a dream of a Phoenix rising, something to speak to this dark vision, this nightmare — and a realization that perhaps I could help with, in fulfillment — that would come from my heart, brushes and fist, fingers flowing out of that dream.

From that opening, together, we explored the idea of creating some art to support the earthquake victims in fundraising effort. Actually, there was another call.

Sichuan 5.12 Earthquake Quake Poster
Theme Poster Design Wanted

Unified Determination Mitigating Quake Disaster Combined Sympathy Overriding hardships

At 14:28 PM, May 12, 2008 an M 8.0 earthquake hit Wnchuan, Sichuan Province. It was the earthquake happened with the most serious devastation since the foundation of People’s Republic of China and inflicted enormous human and property losses to Sichuan Province and neighboring areas. under this unprecedented extreme circumstance, all Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and Chinese government, aided by People’s Liberation Army, armed police and fire fighters and ordinary police officers, and helped by selfishless donations from all over China and the entire world, displayed no fear and devoted great sympathy to its own people.

Activity Objective
To mobilize all available resources to contribute to earthquake rescue; to encourage designers to depict the nobleness and greatness of selfishless love with their creative designs to encourage people who have suffered to persist in their combat against earthquake. The collection of the posters will be exhibited, edited and published for eternal commemoration.

Designs Wanted
The theme is “Unified Determination Mitigating Quake Disaster;” all teachers, students from designing universities and personnal from designing institutes may take part in the exhibition. We invite world famous designing firms and designers from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, etc. to take part. We adopt two ways-designated invitation and extended collection, to ask for participation. 512 pieces will be chosen to take part in final exhibition.

This sequence explores that development. First, what is the Phoenix? The Phoenix is that which rises from the ashes, a firebird, reborn — rekindled. But that word, that concept, is ancient:


Phoenix: O.E. and O.Fr. fenix, from M.L. phenix, from Gk. phoinixmythical bird,” also “the date” (fruit and tree), also “Phoenician, from Phoenicia” literally — “purple-red,” perhaps a foreign word, or from phoinosblood-red.” That ancient leap:

Ðone wudu weardaþ wundrum fæger
fugel feþrum se is fenix hatan

[“Phoenix,” c.900]

The figurative sense of “that which rises from the ashes of what was destroyed” is attested from 1591. Phoenix, however, the city in Arizona, U.S., is so called because it was founded in 1867 on the site of an ancient Native American settlement. Another sentiment, to rising anew — in a darker refrain.

I started with drawings, done large with china marking grease pencils. And like any gestural drawings, they wheel over the energy of the form — something I first learned in drawing — from Barbara Fellows — a draughtsman’s tutor, at the age of 11. Find the form in the energy, spinning.


And this idea of energy is surely something that inspired Paula Rees, but has long inflamed my drawing — http://tim.girvin.com/ink-fingers.html
Or the power in the loss, a passage — and hopeful energy rekindled: http://tim.girvin.com/

From here, drawings of the phoenix with sumi-ye brush, in varying interpretations.






And then, to Paula’s considerations, as well as counsel from China, translators and interpreters, and with Chie Masuyama‘s support (Creative Director | GIRVIN | Seattle — we added Chinese characters to advance the character of the story — unshakable.



These, assembled into exploratory sketches and configurations of illustrations, calligraphy and text.


And collaborative evolutions and visual compositing.


And finally, in keeping with the symbolism of the event, what is found, anew — what recovery is rejuvenated.

Beauty, what scene, seen — is recounted. And how do we move beyond?


tsg | decatur island
The Story:


Other aid channels:


This and other collateral for the cause:


Raise high, the vision, exaltation — the dream:

Exalt comes from Latin exalto, exaltare, to raise high, from ex-, out of + altus, high.