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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