Bristol student creates a ‘visual translation in embroidery’ of Iliad

Silvie Kilgallon, a PhD student at the University of Bristol, is attempting to create a “visual translation in embroidery” of all 24 books of Homer’s celebrated poem, the Iliad.

Ms. Kilgallon works on the piece in public places and documents her progress on her blog. The conceptual artist said the Iliad was “close to her heart”.

Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey and is revered as the greatest of Greek epic poets. Iliad and Odyssey, the two major poems to have survived from Ancient Greece, have been composed at some time between 750 and 650 BC and are seen as central to Western literature and culture.

The Iliad tells the story of the final year of the Trojan War, focusing on the activities of the Greek hero Achilles.

Ms. Kilgallon said: “I started the project in response to a curator showing me a newly built, empty gallery space and asking me what I would put in it. Being a classicist I thought something epic. My mind immediately sprang to the Iliad.” The artist assigned each letter of the ancient Greek alphabet a corresponding color in embroidery threads.

“Using the text as a pattern my aim is to stitch out all 24 books of the Iliad, with a single stitch representing a single letter in the text-pattern,” she explained, adding that, “hopefully when it is finally complete, it will be a work of spectacle, aesthetic beauty and complexity worthy of the title of epic.”

A spokeswoman from the University of Bristol said that book one, which is already finished, will be hung in the student common room of the School of Humanities.