Behind The Artworks: Consecration - Fragilium (2019)

Medium and processes:

The original drawing was created in one of my favourite mediums – charcoal, and I utilised both willow sticks, various grade of charcoal pencil and compressed charcoal blocks for the main work.

The charcoal pencils were employed for the bulk of the fine detailing, the willow charcoal for all the subtle blending and for laying blocks of tone down. I love a bit of conte crayon too (just to add some rich blacks in limited areas, for a little bit more variation in tonal depth).

A putty eraser was used for working in negative, working back from areas blocked in with willow charcoal. This was a lot of fun especially with the branches/roots at the bottom, as little accidents would occasionally happen which would take that part of the drawing off on a slight tangent. I find that a very interesting way to develop a drawing, and in working this way, I had a lot of versatility with the textures I was creating.

For the butterflies, I wanted to have a lighter tone, crisper detail and a glossy look to them, compared to the rest of the drawing - so graphite sticks were used for creating those.

Once the drawing was complete, it was photographed and then I digitally added the grey marbled effect background alongside a few other textures, to tie it in with the rest of the album booklet. It is important for me to mention that no digital alterations were made to the actual main drawing whatsoever. The digital aspect was only employed in developing the background areas.

Album overview: 

Fragilium is translated from Latin to mean fragile, which relates in an emotional and physical sense to the content of the album. Examples of this association would be with the frailty of life as someone is lying on their deathbed, in the fragile state of mind that the grieving is in, or the frailty of relationships as they slowly fall apart.

I really love the play between beauty and decay, and this is the prevalent theme across the whole album – that everything beautiful you may experience; life, love, etcetera, eventually withers away and dies, yet alongside this, in this inevitable slow demise, the beauty is still very much present, romanticising it in a way. Decay itself can also be a beautiful process. 

Imagery & meaning:

The illustration for ‘Devoured In Despair’ has several symbolic references, all tied together with the main theme of decayed beauty: 

From the offset I intended the central character of the piece to be a nude female, arguably the epitome of beauty - women are generally seen as being delicate, fragile and graceful. I had that as a basis, which then became very twisted and dark. I wanted a rot to set in, with decay infiltrating the whole piece; turning it into a horrible vision. I didn’t want to be too overt in being graphic for the sake of it. I much prefer thought provoking images. I think I got the balance right.

I had the idea of a towering female, rising like a phoenix in extreme pain from the ashes of herself, which is crumbling away in grief, desperation and depression. I researched numerous images of depression and anxiety and wanted to incorporate this into the piece. The arms were intentionally placed behind her head, reinforcing the ‘phoenix’ type image with her arched back. I very much had ‘A Sentinel For The Fragile’ in mind for inspiration for the main character; with the images associated with this track enhanced with those of out of body experiences and angelic apparitions. I suppose you could also interpret her as being slightly angelic in appearance; presiding over the despair below, or maybe it is the ‘good’ in her attempting to leave that dead husk behind.

The lower figure I intended to be an obvious representation of depression. Curled up with her head in her hands, lost and alone, bitter and twisted.

I was looking into grief as a general subject and came upon references to the ‘Tree Of Grief’, which is perceived as a representation of your life:

In the beginning, you are a bud, you are nurtured, you develop and grow just as a tree does. The roots becoming the solid foundation you acquire in your early years. As the tree grows, branches are added representing new experiences and connections and you flourish or bloom.

However, as you age, and these connections are lost, the tree declines, the branches start to wither and die. Yet from this demise, there is hope, for fresh shoots may appear and start a new course in life. In the end however, as time takes its relentless course - the tree is eventually reduced to a twisted stump and ultimately dies.

As soon as I read up on all of that, I decided I needed to have reference to this in the imagery too, and thought twisted branches, roots, and bark like textures would add a sense of extra darkness and foreboding to the piece. I also was keen on referencing ‘the 7th circle of suicide’s’ from ‘Dante’s Inferno’. I have always been drawn to the imagery of the people condemned to this realm, their bodies twisted into tree form for eternity, covered in thorns, harassed by harpies (they enjoy tearing the sufferers branch-limbs off) a very graphic representation of self-loathing. I added malformed branch-like twisted arms to not only bring the two figures together, entwined in darkness, but to illustrate the upper figure is never fully able to fully remove herself from the lower one.


The butterfly has been used because it is not only synonymous with delicate beauty, as it is a very feminine and graceful creature; but also, as a deep representation of life itself. The metamorphosis - from its humble beginnings as a caterpillar, to its beautiful and almost ethereal qualities as a butterfly, signifies change, hope and life.

It is also used as a symbol of personal growth and spiritual rebirth in some cultures, with many also seeing it as a representation of the soul; or a potent spiritual symbol for life after death, or resurrection.

So, the butterfly has been chosen as a small glimmer of hope; ever present yet quite distant, and as a metaphor of life, in an otherwise very morbid piece.

Additional comments on the artwork in the booklet:

For the booklet itself, I originally intended to create a separate piece based on the ideas represented for each of the tracks, but in the end decided on using two pieces, again using the medium for the front cover of primarily charcoal drawing, and in the same style for a coherent feel both stylistically and in terms of content.

The first of those two pieces from inside the booklet is entitled ‘Encased In Decay’, and represents the tracks ‘A Sentinel For The Fragile’ and ‘In Somnus Ego Morior (In My Sleep I Die)’; which both deal with someone being trapped within their own body as they slowly wither away, whether it be from terminal illness, or other means. This is approached from different perspectives on both songs, from that of the onlooker in ‘Sentinel…’; desperately hoping for them to stay alive, staying by their side, yet unable to help or provide any form of relief. With ‘In Somnus…’ it is through the eyes of the sufferer, paralysed and unable to communicate to their loved ones, in a sort of delirious subconscious state.

For this drawing, I decided to try and capture the feelings that the sufferer would be going through, frustration at not being able to converse, raging at the situation they are in, helplessness and self-grief and pity. The mage maintaining a sense of paralysis, as if it is the soul screaming silently for release. I purposely wanted quite an ethereal like quality to it, so that it looked like a horrific out of body type experience. The use of the hands as a focal point gives an extra depth, like they are pressing on some form of invisible veil, or a transparent coffin lid, etc. Something that is preventing them from moving on.

The second piece is entitled ‘The Departure’ representing the tracks ‘An Elegy For The Departed’ and ‘To Welcome The Grey’; which both look at loss from a relationship viewpoint, again from different sides of the argument so to speak. This piece I wanted to capture a lonely figure, again using the nude female form to represent beauty, decaying and covered in all sorts of rot and sores (yet still retaining a youthful and delicate appearance). A poignant image for me has always been that of a lady, looking out of a window, either seeing someone go away for the last time, or recollecting past memories. I wanted to capture the look and feel of that, and convey those kinds of emotions, but in a much darker way.

Daniel Bollans

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