What About the Birds

Jul 12, 2022 | News

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By Lily Emo

By the time NZCMS came to me with a request for artwork, a lot of thought had already gone into present­ing their values through their new brand­ing. John 20:21 had been used to form a lot of the think­ing behind the tag line “Every­one Sent”. At their core, the illus­tra­tions I’ve created are inten­ded to aid NZCMS’s new brand­ing by rep­res­ent­ing this tagline visually.

I decided to use birds to sym­bol­ise this idea rather than actual people because as soon as you depict one person, you imme­di­ately leave others out. I didn’t want to specify or define who the people are that are sent and to whom they are sent to. NZCMS’ tag line cap­tures the idea that everyone is sent — it’s inher­ently invit­a­tional, so I wanted it to be inclus­ive in whatever illus­tra­tions I produced.

Birds seemed like the obvious choice because of Aotearoa’s affin­ity with birds. Fur­ther­more, birds travel and move around a lot. Some travel far and some not so far, which seemed fitting when I came to think about those con­nec­ted to the organisation.

I illus­trated a variety of birds, not just select­ing those from New Zealand but from dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions around the world. They rep­res­ent both NZCMS’ unique iden­tity as a New Zealand organ­isa­tion while also emphas­ising its s global focus and the diverse part­ner­ships involved in their work.

I also created some options where the birds are trav­el­ling in form­a­tion. I had this idea when I saw the compass arrows in their new brand­ing, but this also rep­res­ents the rela­tional aspect of mission that is such a pivotal value to NZCMS. Con­nec­ted to this comes the essen­tial focus of working together with a common purpose: being sent by God into the world. Just as the birds fly in form­a­tion towards a des­tin­a­tion, the Church is called to go together to share the Gospel.

Lastly, you will also notice the eclectic activ­ity of each illus­tra­tion. They are not simply flying, but each is trav­el­ling in their own unique way. Some are inter­act­ing with each other. Some are dancing. Some are wor­ship­ping or car­ry­ing some­thing. Some look pas­sion­ate and strong, while others look calm and gentle. Some are young, and some are old.

NZCMS has all sorts of per­son­al­it­ies, gift­ings and exper­i­ences. I wanted to use these illus­tra­tions to sym­bol­ise to every dis­ciple that they have a place in mission. They show the diversity of every­one who is and can be involved in what God is doing through NZCMS. I hope that these illus­tra­tions give room for anyone to imagine how their own lives fit within the call to follow Jesus.

Watch a video inter­view with Lily Emo

Lily Emo is an Illus­trator based in New Zealand. She has a special interest in chil­dren’s books and won the Mar­garet Mahy Illus­tra­tions Prize in 2020. Lily and her husband are former NZCMS Mission Part­ners and served in Nicaragua in 2009 — 2010. You can learn more about her here.

This article was taken from our Annual Report. You can down­load this here.

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