Protest! – Oxymoron

In this session, we were introduced to the next part of the collaboration project. This was focusing on visual metaphors within our work and how these can communicate different messages to the viewer. We had to choose an oxymoron from a provided list, and the mini task was to create some illustrations to represent each word.


  1. a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).

Our chosen oxymoron was ‘Silent Speech’. We thought this fitted our project perfectly, because deaf people can’t hear (which is silence), and also cannot hear people talking (speech). We sketched out a few representations of the word ‘silent’ and the word ‘speech’ to help us generate some ideas for the final oxymoron visual. Illustrators often create visuals which include two contrasting words, they sometimes pair different concepts to create original, unique imagery that creates visual and emotional meaning that their audience can find humorous, emotional or confusing. See below for initial ideas:

We initially came up with the idea of combining being underwater (silence) and sound waves (speech), but then decided that it wasn’t clear enough, and just looked like a surf company’s logo. We then came up with a zipped mouth (silent) with jumbled up words and letters coming out of a head (speech) to show that deaf people can’t express themselves:

However, this didn’t represent that the person was deaf enough so we had to rethink our ideas.

We talked to Theo who showed us a Radio 4 Podcast called The Right to be Deaf which inspired us to focus on infants who were deaf. The podcast talked to a deaf man, who had a deaf wife, and a deaf child. The family wanted a second child, and went through IVF in order to have the choice of whether their baby would be deaf or not. For this family, being deaf is normal, so having a completely able second child would be harder for them, and that child would feel disabled because it is NOT deaf within the family. This conversation sparked a huge debate between the interviewer and deaf man, because the interviewer thinks that it’s unfair on the unborn baby that someone else is making the decision to disable them to hear, whereas the deaf man wants another deaf child so the family can live ‘normally’, and so they can all have the same abilities.

Link to Podcast:

After having listened to this podcast, we then came up with the idea of combining an unborn baby with an ear. This shows that the baby is; 1. deaf, and 2. can’t have its own say in whether it’s born deaf or not.


Final Outcome:

Final Oxymoron - Silent Speech
Artwork credit – Celine Hicks


This was our final oxymoron outcome. Celine chose to create the piece using her illustrative skills and tools. The outcome was created using pencil to sketch out the initial design, and then watercolour to add the colour to the piece, and was completed at a large scale, using A2 sized watercolour paper.


Today we presented our final Oxymoron. Overall, the feedback was positive, which we were happy with as a group. We explained the link between the podcast and oxymoron words, and both Jo and David thought the idea was strong. However, they both said that before we explained the image, they didn’t see the ear, they just saw it as a womb. In order to improve on this, we could add a more defined earlobe, maybe add an earring, or even add the side profile of a face into the piece, and alter the colouring to show the divide between the two different parts of the image.

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