The Ivory Trail

Analysis of The Ivory Trail #

Background and Context: #

This book cover, a montage of images of exotic places was designed (by Marina Messiha) to capture and engage people’s attention and persuade them to buy the book.  Despite the adage; “don’t judge a book by its cover”, a recent survey indicates that people are attracted and swayed by cover designs.


The book, The Ivory Coast by Victor Kelleher, (Australia 1996) deals with journeys to four destinations into tropical and far eastern countries, and the cover signals a glimpse into each of these.  It is the story of a renegade poacher who pursues elephants for their lucrative ivory tusks.

Africa – The Sahara – The sands, the pyramids, the Sphinx

The far East – the minarets

Australia – the desert sands



Techniques: #



This item uses the  Language of Visuals, graphics to illustrate and depict issues  using both an objective and a subjective approach.  It is a Text types  that: Illustrates, depicting its message through a montage of disparate and  exotic images**.**


**Sensual awareness; **Composers try to recapture scenes and objects through the appeal of the five senses, visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, gustatory.

Sight** – colours, images, gaze

The uplifted eyes appear to be that of a Caucasian Youth full of awe? Wonder? Amazement?  Fear? Suspense? Anticipation?   - Whatever - they do contrast with the eyes of the Sphinx which are weathered and so blank, vacant, pitiless.


The Pyramid and Sphinx – both symbols of a decadent ancient Egyptian empire the former representing the afterlife and the latter an enigma.


The sand  -  waste land, the sands of time?  …..


The minarets – symbol of east and west – Byzantine domes of the Greek Orthodox Religion.


The sun:  rising – full of hope, resurrection renewal  or:

Setting – futility, decay, death….

Colours:  Eye catching red, gold, (rich seductive)  black, brown yellow. Inter-play of colours fading into others – no clear distinctions. 

The shadows on the right side suggest mystery, danger, fear.

**Tactile **– texture and feel of the sand

*Layout:   *Arrangement of Page: #

 VECTOR LINES – Reading paths are generally left to right, top to bottom but here the vector lines direct us to focus on central images.  We first see the averted uplifted eyes and the lines of the pyramid that direct us to the ominous warning caption “*Not all journeys have endings”.  * 

Instead of one central dominating image, this montage has multiple images to focus on.



The author’s name is dominant with the largest font (white on colour) indicating his pulling power.


The title enlarges with each line, the climatic emphasis on “Trail”, both in upper case.


The core message at the top, a sentence fragment, is in the smallest font, uses the lower case, also white on black.

Logo  The logo of the reflective yellow  Puffin (children’s branch of Penguin)  identifies a respectable publisher.