Lulu & the Tiny Elephants | Azrah Osman’s Therapy through Illustration

Azrah Osman


Azrah Osman is an illustrator whose work is so uniquely personal to her own life that it almost cannot be viewed independent of it. In 2013, just as she was about to start her Honours Degree in Illustration at Stellenbosch University, Azrah was diagnosed with a rare brain abnormality. After months of denial, she finally underwent the surgery she so dreaded. Her illustrations reflect this struggle with her situation and coming to grips with her own mind.


After learning about her condition, Azrah created Lulu, a fictitious character who represents her. Lulu is a little girl who experiences sharp lightning bolts of pain in her head, while she is trying to work at school or at home playing.  The aches are a direct comparison to the symptoms that Azrah was presented with. Then there are the tiny elephants – symbolic of her Arnold Chiari Malformation – who, along with a whole menagerie of animals, turn her mind to chaos. In these images, Azrah wanted to express the feelings and insecurities that arose from her abnormality. Eventually, however, she came to a place of acceptance and, like Lulu, makes friends with her elephants.


“Drawing as a Treatment for Trauma: A Journey through Brain Surgery” and “Lulu & the tiny Elephants” served as the final component of her Honours Degree. The exploration of her pain inspired both her research article topic and her storybook. Azrah will graduate with her Honours in Illustration at the end of March.


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  1. A meticulous practical case study in art psychotherapy. I’m privileged enough to have seen the original bound book. Well done Azrah! Keep it up!

  2. Wow.awesome stuff Azrah.
    Can’t wait for my autographed copy.
    You make me proud.

  3. Laylaa Mohamed

    So Proud of you Az, you’re talent speaks volumes!!! Amaaazing work 🙂

  4. Masha Allah Azrah Truly Amazing. I too feel privileged to have read the original bound book and it’s incredible how every stroke tells its own unique story of this very courageous journey. We are all very proud of you Azrah our profound illustrator. Loves always

  5. Congratulations Azrah, I am delighted to see this. Keith.

  6. well done Azrah. proud of you cuzzin…..Much Love

  7. This is absolutely amazing Azrah! I am so proud of you and this wonderful achievement! 🙂 Lots of love from Cape Town 😛

  8. Wow Azu! This is fantastic. You’ve given a whole lot of people a chance to” look inside your head”. Inspiring!