On the Origin of a Family


Inspired by the The Sudanese letters of Chase Wayrman, I decided to explore my own family history in An Interesting and Elaborate History. Based on a tale that has been passed down through the Simas family, the story tells of Karl Lorenz, an ancestor of Austrian origin, who goes on a hunt for the mythical pantere (pronounced PAN-tur), described in various European bestiaries as early as Pliny the Elder. Elaborate History was composed and penned by myself, but the story is written as a letter from Lorenz to his descendants, following the pattern of Sudanese Letters.

This is a family tale, and as may be expected, is hard to believe. It involves a mythical creature but describes the events plainly, seeming to assume that the characters and events are real, of which there is little evidence. But as with Sudanese Letters, I choose to believe them.

Elaborate History posed more of a challenge than the previous project. Because this is a family story, it felt right to include human characters in the illustrations; but figure drawing is far from a forte and working on those watercolours was a rewarding challenge. On top of that, the enterprise as a whole was much more time-consuming — in part because I chose to hand-write the story myself, to maintain the sense of familiarity, but also because of the pantere’s multitude of coloured spots, the longest part of all paintings with the creature.

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