Andreja Brulc's Blog

Illustration / Part 3: Flowers

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 26/12/2016

The Earth laughs in flowers.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers are happy things.
– P. G. Wodehouse

Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.
– Sigmund Freud

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
– Henri Matisse

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.
– Auguste Rodin

10_flowers-daffodilAs mentioned in one of my last posts – Part 1: Trees and Part 2: Shrubs & Vines – in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I am posting 12 themes in total that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work. To continue with the natural world, the third part is focused on the flower subject divided into the following sections – wild flowers, cultivated flowers and man-made flowers, as well as flowers as part of life cycles (birth and death).

Photography has always served me as a starting point for the process of making artworks including the flower subject. While majority of photography is accidental gathered through my travels and day trips, a small percentage is intentional depending on the aspect of a project. Also, while some of these photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, many, on the other hand, were a starting point for experiments as flowers got incorporated into a new range of compositions and environments, as well as fragmented or transformed into new shapes and textures, through the use of various techniques.

 

1. Wild flowers

Wild flowers grow where they will.
– Rachel Lambert Mellon

You always have to remember – no matter what you’re told – that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway.
– Cyndi Lauper

Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.
– Georges Bernanos

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.
– Walt Whitman

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02_flowers-daisy

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05_flowers-daisies

07_flowers-poppy

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2. Cultivated flowers

I must have flowers, always, and always.
– Claude Monet

By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity.
– Robert A. Heinlein

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
– Oscar Wilde

The water-lily, in the midst of waters, opens its leaves and expands its petals, at the first pattering of the shower, and rejoices in the rain-drops with a quicker sympathy than the packed shrubs in the sandy desert.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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12_flowers-poenies

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3. Man-made flowers

I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I draw flowers every day and send them to my friends so they get fresh blooms every morning.
– David Hockney

I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
– Claude Monet

If heaven can be on the face of the earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.
– from an inscription – by Amir Khusrow (Persian poet)  – on the arches of the Diwan-i-Khas, Red Fort, Delhi

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4. Flowers as ‘life cycles’ – Birth and Death

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.
– Samuel Johnson

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.
– Pablo Neruda

I paint flowers so they will not die.
– Frida Kahlo

From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.
– Edvard Munch

A dried plant is nothing but a sign to plant a new one.
– Priyansh Shah

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Illustration / Part 2: Shrubs & Vines

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 25/12/2016

A wise man in China asked his gardener to plant a shrub. The gardener objected that it only flowered once in a hundred years. “In that case,” said the wise man, “plant it immediately.”
– John Charles Polanyi, On the importance of fundamental research

A hedge between keeps friendship green.
French Proverb

As mentioned in my last posts – Part 1: Trees – in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I shall be posting themes (12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work. To continue with the natural world, the second part is focused on the subject of shrubs (bushes) and vines (climbers).

 

1. Shrubs

I walk in the garden, I look at the flowers and shrubs and trees and discover in them an exquisiteness of contour, a vitality of edge, or a vigour of spring, as well as an infinite variety of colour that no artefact I have seen in the last sixty years can rival…each day, as I look, I wonder where my eyes were yesterday.
– Bernard Berenson

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In contrast, Milena was extremely fastidious about the flat and her surroundings–from the reproductions on the walls to the flowers, in vases and in window-boxes on the balcony. Those in the window-boxes we grew from seed, those in the vases were obtained in various ways: sometimes Milena would buy them, sometimes she was given them and sometimes we would take them from the cemetery wall or the gardens in Lobkowitz Square. One evening we were caught cutting roses by a park-attendant when we already had a fine bunch. But Milena managed to persuade him that we were actually pruning the bushes and getting rid of the excess blooms–’overgrown buds’ she called them–which merely sapped the plant’s strength. It was a creditable piece of rhetoric on her part: it is no mean feat, late in the evening, that what you are engaged in at that particular hour is caring for the appearance of the public gardens and that your bunch of half-open buds are merely ‘overgrown buds’ which you have pruned for the good of the bush. It took her some time, but she managed it somehow in the end, and as we were leaving the poor chap actually thanked us and expressed regret that there were no more people like us in the city. I tend to agree with him on that point. But if I were to be asked to repeat all that Milena told him that evening, I would be at a loss. I merely realised what was meant by ‘the art of public relations’ and from that day forth was never in any doubt about Milena’s mastery in that respect.
– Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena (1920–23)

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2. Vines

Every flower about a house certifies to the refinement of somebody. Every vine climbing and blossoming tells of love and joy.
– Robert G. Ingersoll

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Posted in Greetings Cards, Marketing material by andrejabrulc on 24/12/2016

Thank you for following (or landing on) my blog – I wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2017!

merry-christmas-and-happy-new-year

The card is made out of neon lights typography. The letters were assembled from numerous photos I took of showing neon signage around Soho, London, in Dec 2004. The photo project was part of Experimental Typography course at London College of Communication (University of the Arts), led by Sarah Hyndman, of With Relish Ltd and Type Tasting. Below is a photo of Christmas lights from the same field trip.

christmas-lights_soho_london_2004

 

30 Nov: Happy St Andrew’s Day

Posted in Things of the Past by andrejabrulc on 30/11/2016

Every year, on 30 Nov, my mum reminds me of my ‘name day’ – Catholics, traditionally, have their names given after saints (or, more likely, these days at baptism if you are given whatever posh sounding name as your first name!) Perhaps I ought to move to Scotland, as at least I share something with the Scots. Happy St Andrew’s Day!

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The day also reminds me of my favourite example representing the martyrdom of St Andrew in visual arts: the famous architectural detail from my best-loved English Cathedral that I saw together with my parents – the scissor arches, also known as St Andrew’s Cross, supporting the crossing tower of the Wells Cathedral (Somerset), which were constructed between 1338–48 in the Decorated style by master mason William Joy. The Cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew, is the first English cathedral to have been entirely built in Gothic style, mostly in the Early English Gothic from late C12–early C13, with a few later additions, most notably the top parts of the western (front) towers done in the Perpendicular style.

Andrew the Apostle is believed to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras. According to early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, the Apostle is described not to have been nailed but bound to a Latin cross like Jesus; yet a tradition has it that he had been crucified on a cross of the form known as crus decussata (X-shaped cross, or saltire) – as the heraldic symbol, St Andrew’s Cross, in the Scottish flag is informally known – according to his own wishes as he did not deem himself worthy to be martyred in the same manner as his master!

The scissor arches – therefore, evoking the crucifixion of St Andrew – were not intentional, i.e. as part of the overall architectural design, but were an engineering solution to the problem arising from the central piers of the crossing (where the two transepts cross the nave) sinking under the weight of the crossing tower as the foundations were too unstable (the tower had been heightened and topped by a lead covered wooden spire between 1313–1322).

I studied English Gothic architecture – and the aesthetic of the scissor arches has rather been disapproved in art history on the basis that it ‘brutally’ ruins the unified and restrained interior! A bit of snobbism of the discipline I must say but I just LOVE the detail! It is one of the most memorable details I have ever seen! Also, it was only at Wells that the cathedral complex gave me a better understanding how English cathedrals – originally based on monastic foundation until they were dissolved under Henry VIII in the late 1530s – actually work due to its exceptional number of surviving buildings, including the secular ones associated with its chapter of secular canons (Bishop’s Palace and Vicar’s Close). Undoubtedly, the Wells Cathedral is, in my opinion, one of the most architecturally beautiful and poetic cathedrals in England, in addition to the three examples of fan vaulting ceilings representing the culmination of the English Gothic – Perpendicular: the Bath Abbey and its west front showing angels climbing the Jacob’s Ladder, the cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral and the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.

Things of the Past: 10 Nov 1991

Posted in Things of the Past by andrejabrulc on 11/11/2016

This post – or rather a diary entry of today – is not about my favourite artist of all times, Matisse, and his two paintings (Dance and Music from The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg) that have inspired me as a leitmotif in the joie de vivre – both of which I managed to see displayed opposite each other in the Matisse show in Paris (1993) and, even more, I personally encountered the Dance at the Royal Academy of Arts while working there on the show called From Russia (2008). Although there are analogies between the two paintings and this post, the post is nonetheless about one of my 10 anniversaries (10 Commandments List 2016) that I am celebrating this year – i.e. today is 25 years since I was refused to enter UK on a YU passport (10 Nov 1991)!

dance

I have been writing a blog post “‘I ONCE WAS A REFUGEE’ or ‘WAS I AFTER BRITISH PASSPORT’?”, the title of which is based on two things of the past I was accused of. The post is triggered as a result of the interview for my first British passport that took place 14 days before the UK referendum on EU membership. I was asked two questions for which I had not been prepared and are core to my blog post: the history of my settlement in the UK and why I have not applied for a passport for so long after my naturalization process in April 2012! The interview opened up ‘THE  WOUND’ that kind of magically got suppressed into ‘the bubble of a politically correct world’, into which I have somehow managed to integrate! I have now decided to make it public once and for all as a process of reconciliation through the blog post – especially since I am not ‘friends with taboos’ and I feel I have the right to say now that I am FINALLY a British citizen, and, above all, it is vital from my own perspective that I deal with the issue and move on. But, all I can say, I shall never forget this most ‘surreal’ experience in my whole life apart from the two events of air-bombing by the YU army! I know the latter sounds very pathetic in comparison to what happened in Bosnia or any other war zones past and present, but I DID nevertheless experience the bombs above my head after all, and the feeling of fear from bombing was not nice then and is not pleasant even so many years on!!! No wonder why I turned out to be a fully-fledged pacifist that is top-to-bottom inside-out ANTI anything-and-everything to do with guns, violence and wars! The piece is still unfinished but I thought I would share an extract from it as it is relevant to today’s anniversary:

“I once was ‘a refugee from the YU war zone’ if only for a few hours, while being put into a detention centre at Dover – if only verbally labeled by border officials since my YU passport did not have information about the state in which I was born (FYI, there were 6 states within YU)!

It was my 23rd birthday (10 Nov 1991). 10pm. I was offered a portion of fish and chips by one of the immigration officers ‘in order to heal my headache’ [exactly his words]! But no cake! Not even a slice of sugar! Forget about a glass of wine! Austerity budget cuts already felt even then! Luckily, I was not alone ‘at my birthday party’. It was just two of us, that’s all. My ‘dance’ companion. A man with no name. A bloke from Africa. Did he invite himself, or did I send him an invite? I cannot remember. It does not matter. But he was there. Someone was there. Someone came to my party. I was not alone. Together we ‘danced’ to ‘the music’ as motionless and silent as figures in Matisse’s Dance and Music waiting to be given to ‘the right owner’! We were so exhausted from ‘the party’, to a degree that neither of us felt hungry or thirsty! Just in total ‘ecstasy’ from such gloriously momentous joie de vivre!

What happened to him, I have no idea, poor chap, but I am sure he was less fortunate than myself. After all these years all I wished I knew his name! Please forgive me, my invisible ‘dance’ companion! The border officials explained to my then British boyfriend (now husband) that my chances of a re-appeal were very high in ‘my favour’ –

‘because she is a WHITE European.’ [exactly their words]

EXCLAMATION MARK.”

music

Thank you very much to those who have helped me on the way (I shall not identify you by name, but, if you are reading this ‘waffle’, you can recognise yourselves as you may still remember my ‘wonderful’ experience in Dover, although the last ‘bit’ in single inverted commas is being made public only now! Now, as a naturalised Brit, I am finally able to say that I am not proud of that ‘welcoming’! I have never ever talked about it openly before – BUT as the wound came out of the blue at the passport interview like those bombings from the clear blue sky during those surreal moments in June of 1991 (imagine the madness in Apocalypse Now accompanied by the tunes of The Doors, that’s how it felt), I decided it is high time I dealt with it, yet that horrendous experience will never be forgotten: not a very pleasant feeling to be living with ‘having a privilege’ knowing that I was racially compared to someone from Africa as a superior human being ‘because I am white’, before I had even decided to move to UK for good! My ultimate question now is, after Brexit, as to why I did not make a U-turn then! I am now not only labeled a WHITE European, but also, since this year, as an EASTERN European from the EU! Because of hate speech that has entered into a public domain as it has been given a valid currency again after years of being suppressed. You may think why do I care about all of this as after all I am a Brit. Not quite – it is not that easy. After all, the anti-immigration insults were/are also against me, too! Against my origins! Or shall I just say, WTF – I shall dance to the music and ski in between: I am a Slovene by origin, a British by personal choice, a European by cultural heritage and, above, a citizen of the world by heart and soul! White supremacy and xenophobia based on geographical and cultural identities as well as religions can just bugger off!

Illustration / Part 1: Trees

Posted in Books, Children's, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 03/10/2016

I feel like a tree. A tree doesn’t feel a duty to start doing something about the earth from which it comes. A tree just has to bear fruit, and leaves and blossoms. It doesn’t feel grateful to the earth.
– Abbas Kiarostami

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time.
– Joseph Beuys

14_trees-lonley-treeTo mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration, I shall be posting 12 themes that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work – something that I only realised while gathering material for the new website during the summer. The fact that the largest body of artworks I have created thematically for different projects consists of trees, to a ‘tree hugger’ this came as no surprise but rather as a satisfying delight! While most of these artworks were created for Beletrina book covers (a literary imprint of Beletrina Academic Press, Slovenia) and for art/children’s picture book projects where I was able to influence the decision-making in the image creation, I have recently been involved with other projects that specifically required ‘tree’ related artworks – a school textbook for the CAPE (Unit 2) Geography (A-level) for the Caribbean Educational Publishers, Trinidad & Tobago and a website, Bean’s Trees and Shrubs, for the International Dendrology Society, UK.

00_trees-forest

I had been photographing trees well before I embarked on a career change from the art world in 2006. I have been particularly interested in their various forms (exploring light and shadow, shapes and textures) and in their different settings (geographical locations and climates), as well as viewing them from a range of natural conditions (growing and decaying) and that of human impact on them (signage, graffiti and incisions). While some of these photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, many, on the other hand, served as a starting point for experiments as the trees got incorporated into a new range of compositions and environments, as well as fragmented or transformed into new shapes and textures, through the use of various techniques. The tree subject is divided into sections – forests, lonely trees, crowns, trunks, branches, leaves and roots – depending on a particular project.

 

1. Forests

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
– William Blake

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
– John Muir

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2. Solitary trees

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
– Winston Churchill

I have to stay alone in order to fully contemplate and feel nature.
– Caspar David Friedrich

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3. Crowns

A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human.
– Georges Rouault

No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.
– John Muir

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4. Trunks

If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.
– Matthew Fox

Just touching that old tree was truly moving to me because when you touch these trees, you have such a sense of the passage of time of history. It’s like you’re touching the essence, the very substance of life.
– Kim Novak

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5. Branches

I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.
– Henri Matisse

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6. Leaves

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
– Albert Camus

Matisse draws what I call the essence of the plants. He leaves a shape open. He’ll do a leaf and not close it. Everybody used to say, oh, I got it all from Matisse, and I said, ‘Not really.’
– Ellsworth Kelly

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7. Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
– Marcus Garvey

You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.
– Malcolm X

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If a tree dies, plant another in its place.
– Carolus Linnaeus

I’m IN for PEACE: The story of my Flag & Poster

Posted in Graphic Design, Projects, Things of the Past by andrejabrulc on 23/06/2016

Everyone’s entitled to express their political beliefs. I don’t presume to tell anybody who to vote for. I am comfortable telling people what my opinions are.
– Ben Affleck.

REMAIN

Even the Rain is crying upon us
I’m Slovene by birth
– of father and mother
I’m British by naturalisation
– of personal choice
I’m European by identity
– of historical and cultural heritage

I’m a voter
Therefore I’m IN

Hope for the future of Britain Great
– at home

– in the EU
– in Europe
– in the world
for peace, love, freedom and justice
Oh, Mother Homeland

Hope for the Sun, a day after
Oh, Mother Nature

Oh, Please
[– a poem from my diary entry on the day of Brexit @ 6.35am, 23 June 2016]

Following the ghastly attack on Labour MP Jo Cox on Thursday (16 June 2016), I’ve got inspired to do a poster – after all, I am a designer – to support the REMAIN campaign. I made it on Friday but decided not to hang it until Monday to respect her family and friends, the Labour party, and all around national mourning. The saddest day of ‘My Life in Britain’ – the title given to the test in my process of naturalisation nearly 5 years ago after my final settlement in the UK in 1992! It gave me the time to reflect what kind of dangerous game the referendum has brought upon the nation I adapted as my own, far too close to what I have experienced in the country of my origin 25 years ago – during the months leading up to the Slovene referendum on separation from Yugoslavia (23 Dec 1990), followed by 6 months of uncertainty towards the proclamation of its independence (25 June 1991) and subsequent ‘surreal’ consequences of 10-day war (& not to be forgotten the madness in the Balkans)!

Yet, who would have thought that 25 years later as we speak – since the time of sewing a flag of three colours (white, blue and red) for the independence of Slovenia only to be ‘stolen’ during the first night of being hung from the mast on our street – I would be making the poster of the same colours for a similar if only different cause! Yet, who would have thought that after 15 years of living in the same house, my neighbour – cutting the fence outside within two meters away – would give me a stern look and looked away while I was hanging the poster from the inside!

In the case of Slovenia, the flag was a patriotic gesture to salute democracy and freedom of speech for the first time ever, while in the case of the United Kingdom, the poster is a hope for keeping Britain within the EU and making her thrive as Great rather than Little!

And, what happened on Thursday made me realise that how much is peace – the main reason for founding European Union – still important today and, above all, the most relevant in the context of Brexit. Hence, I dedicate my REMAIN poster to PEACE – through the story of the flag and through the eyes of my grandfather.

Grandma and grandpa

 

Nigel Farage’s cause for Europe: HATE & BLAME towards Europeans

The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.
– William Shakespeare

When referendum was finally fixed with the date of 23 June 2016 back in Feb, I decided to tune my BBC4 talk radio to music channels and my TV news to drama series and films! It was my personal decision to escape from the kind of rhetoric infused into the campaign for the 2014 MEP election. A lot of bias reporting in mainstream press and media and plenty of ‘hate’ voices against European immigrants along the lines of Nigel Farage! It is not surprising that Farage managed to win more seats (27.49% of votes) in the European Parliament than any other British parties, despite the fact that a year later, in the 2015 general election, UKIP, being the third largest party on vote share, secured only one parliamentary seat! Yet, UKIP is far more popular that ‘its single seat’ can cope with as it is occupied by 3 881129 ‘voices’ (12.6%)! I am surprised that it has not yet collapsed by its weight!

It is a huge irony that the Leave campaign, generally speaking, while criticising how undemocratically elected the EU is, refuses to look into the mirror and reflect that most problems really start at ‘home alone’ in all aspects of the referendum debate! As in Nigel’s case, who secured most seats for the MEP election due to the system of proportional representation put in place since 1999, ‘at home’ he was not that lucky! Democratic? Also, we vote for MPs representing a party in our own constituencies, yet the party that wins, selects ministers for the cabinet without our ‘voices’! Democratic? Furthermore, our companies’ CEOs can do whatever they want us to do as we have no ‘voice’ over power – in fact, they ‘use’ a system of managers to dilute their ‘executive’ power onto ‘the masses’. UK has the largest amount of managers in the EU and that has nothing to do with the EU! In large companies one no longer knows who does the actual job, except your own CEO, some of whom may spend most of their time tanning in the Bahamas! Democratic? Accept it or not, unless we introduce populist anarchy or socialism, which is a step further towards the left from communism on political left-right spectrum. I don’t think so! It would be worse than REMAIN! EXCLAMATION MARK.

It is a huge irony that immigration is the 3rd most prominent issue on TV and in Press, according to media analysis from Loughborough University, yet – while there is no point stating the obvious what kind of positive effect European immigration has had on the life of Britain that we all benefited from – it is interesting to observe that issues such as housing, social security, public services and health care are less prominent! Only in relation to how these European migrants coming to UK to ‘milk the system’, yet failing to reflect – if one believes academics, which I normally do as my tax pays them to do the research – that European migrants are less likely to ‘milk the system’ that the natives! EXCLAMATION MARK.

– In my 25 years of living in the UK, all governments, left and right, have failed to provide enough, decent, ‘affordable’ living accommodation for British people that they have been promised to build for them during their election campaign. Instead, the likes of Boris Johnson from the Tory Leave campaign have helped, and made profit from, property developers, who have been given building permissions to increase a luxury living in those ghastly ‘ivory’ towers along the Thames! EXCLAMATION MARK.

– In my 25 years of living in the UK, all governments have tried to keep taxes low in order to secure their votes, while we all know – if we take Denmark as an example, the model that media often draws to while discussing a system of great social wellbeing – higher taxes, NI contributions and smaller gap in pay between the rich and poor mean better housing, social security, public services and health care! And a healthier nation! EXCLAMATION MARK.

– In my 25 years of living in the UK, all governments have contributed more and more to socio-economic divide between the rich and the poor than any other European state. We are soon approaching the level of the US – the 4th worst divide in the developed world – and might soon float across the Atlantic if we are not careful, whether we stay or leave! UK currently ‘owns’ 7th place, with all European states, apart from Italy, well behind! EXCLAMATION MARK.

– In my 25 years of living in the UK, all governments have done nothing to stop British companies – even those that used to be a national asset – exporting many British jobs to overseas. Think of our customer services, for instance – how many times I cursed ‘that person’ on the other side of the line (India, Far East) when I could not work out what they were saying when I was dying to sort out my credit card abuse, my 10 days of being disconnected from BT telephone and internet that I ‘had’ to use for work, or my trying to fix the delivery for London Book Fair at the Olympia Exhibition Centre, yet the person had no idea of the London Street Map!

And the list can go on! EXCLAMATION MARK.

Yet, to blame all Europeans living in the UK as the main cause of all problems ‘at home’ is a way too much to take for someone, who has naturalised and whose identity is European, the only one! Many of us, like myself, while living in the UK, have long-distance jobs that sit in the EU or other parts of the world, and have contributed to the British economy from the world income for years if not decades! In my opinion, the referendum is an escapism from taking responsibilities to deal with the real issues within the country itself and refuse to accept that all three governments – New Labour, the Coalition and Tory – have done nothing to improve the situation for the masses and will never do, nor will the Brexit that UKIP was so keen to implement!

It doesn’t matter who you vote for. It’s still the same billionaires that run the world.
– Geezer Butler

If only I was strict enough to turn off Facebook entirely back in Feb! I am still cursing myself not to have gone ‘on fasting’ since I do not need any press or media opinion – let alone those ‘voices’ on social media – to tell me what is good for the United Kingdom! I know both sides of the coin – BUT, whilst I am aware of the negative side of the EU, the positive side ABSOLUTELY wins! EXCLAMATION MARK.

BREAKING POINT: Ignorance

Since Feb my only decision to be made was – if I am allowed to use the famous Shakespearean line as my own – whether “to vote, or not to vote: that is the question”. I originally thought that the matter on the future of UK was down to the natives. But, as the time proceeded with all the blame and hate culture towards, us, Europeans, and particularly Eastern European migrants, I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to participate! And, by participation I was to vote against ‘IGNORANCE’ rather than giving my credibility to any parties. My view on the world does not entirely fit in with any British party politics, but since I ‘sit’, as we speak, in a Tory constituency, I voted Labour in 2014 – my first vote in general elections since naturalisation – as I am not a Tory and shall never be, nor do I shake hands with any extreme political thoughts, left or right! EXCLAMATION MARK.

So, hours before the attack on Jo Cox, Independent, via Facebook feed, informs me of Nigel Farage’s unveiling of the billboard campaign – Breaking Point – while smiling! EXCLAMATION MARK.

main-farage-solution-1And, if I return back to the beginning of Ben Affleck’s quote, I agree that everyone is entitled to express their political opinions. But, the billboard was pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression a bit too far! The message was extremely oppressive, offensive and unforgiving. Not only from the point of view of similarities with propaganda images – or more specifically, as someone, according to the article, pointed out a parallel to the images of the Nazi’s Final Solution as shown on BBC documentary via Netflix–, but also from the point of view of the image of Syrian refugees that I visually immediately connected to those images from the border between Slovenia and Croatia that I saw on Slovene TV last summer! The images that no one wanted to see! The images of people that Europe does not want to have! The images of people who fled the war that we – the western world – is happy to sponsor through bombing! So, it did not come to my big surprise, when on Monday – after I placed the poster in the window and I finally re-tuned to BBC4 in order to make my campaign begin – that ‘my suspicion’ was confirmed!

Speechless, exhausted and ashamed of the kind of Britain I ‘naturalised’! EXCLAMATION MARK.

To use the image that was taken at least 1000 km away from the UK border and, even more, to use the image of non-Europeans within the current EU immigration debate, is a record low even for a party that has only one seat in the Parliament! None of my plentiful art history books on the power of images – used by totalitarian regimes of both side of the (political) coin show any of the sort – neither through art nor through poster propaganda images. Exploiting the truth of a dismally humiliating situation in which Syrian people have currently been subdued due to the terror of civil war through the immediacy of photography as a medium is a double record low. It is stripping those unfortunate people of their identity as descent human beings giving them a role of perpetrators for the crime that they have not even committed. Or was their crime – entering the EU zone?! EXCLAMATION MARK.

The billboard is a sign of emotional manipulation of the kind of rhetoric Nigel Farage has been using on the road paved to the central seat of our democracy! As early as 1981, David Emms, the teacher of Dulwich College, warned other teachers in his protest letter of the kind of character the college had confirmed him as a perfect.

I have often heard you tell our senior boys that they are the nation’s future leaders.
– David Emms

Emms was not mistaken, yet is scary to think that Farage – an already Nazi-driven youth – later on, indeed, manages to raise to a position in which he is given the power to manipulate the masses through images and speech in such a short period of time.

Lastly, all advertising of such exposure should be morally and socially responsible. As a designer, all I can say that the designer or the agency should be utterly ashamed to take profits from that kind of job! They must believe in the decency of the character of their employer! No EXCLAMATION MARKS?

 

My grandfather’s cause for Europe: ‘Pass’ towards PEACE and FREEDOM

Cowards die a thousand deaths, but the brave only die once.
– Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

As if the day of the attack on Jo Cox has not yet started badly enough for me. While researching an article, I discovered that my mum’s father, who was put into a forced labour camp in 1943 by Austrian SS due to his skills and experience – digging the Loibl Pass, a 1570 m long tunnel under the Alps between Slovenia and Austria ordered by the command of Austrian SS Friedrich Rainer in order to make a military passage into the Balkans as fast and as easy as possible –, must have, in fact, witnessed the Holocaust! EXCLAMATION MARK.

Great-grandfather_2That my grandfather’s skills and experience were in high demand is without question as the labour shortage throughout Europe during WWII for war infrastructure is not a rocket Grandfather_Apprenticeshipscience! He was born (17 Jan 1907) into a family of ‘civil engineering’: his father’s ID (‘Amtliche Leigitimation’) was issued on 17 Aug 1918 just before the end of WWI (11 Great-grandfather_1Nov 1918) for his work on repairing telegraph systems for the Austro-Hungarian Empire that Italians had destroyed during one of the worst battles in WWI – Battles of Isonzo – as eternalised by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms. According to the certificate (26 Feb 1940) stamped by the Guild of Civil Engineering, my grandfather completed three years of practical apprenticeship in building industry (Dec 1929).

My grandfather managed to escape and joined the partisans to fight the war against the Nazis! I knew about his involvement with the partisans while he was still alive, though he never really liked to talk about what really happened in the war when I asked him questions for my homework – he would prefer to reply by singing the Yugoslav version of the Internationale as he loved signing more than talking, while I went on to invent a heroic story to satisfy the Communist educational establishment! EXCLAMATION MARK.

That his battle against Nazism must have been extremely bloody I have no doubt until today.

Yet, I had no idea of his reality of ‘the digging job’ at the Loibl Pass until Thursday morning! I realised that he was in the forced labour camp well after his death in Oct 1999, but I had no idea that it was part of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp under the notorious SS commandant Julius Ludolf. Nor did I ‘try’ to think that executions – an injection of petrol into the heart of the weak, the sick and the injured by the camp physician SS Sigbert Ramsauer – might also happen there! Probably because up until then I could not accept his vulnerability in the camp and the fragility of his existence! EXCLAMATION MARK. Ramsauer, who also practiced private experiments by the same method, called these executions ‘a beautiful death’!!! EXCLAMATION MARK. Even worse, if labourers were discovered while trying to escape the injection was their punishment!  And to my horror, in the worst scenario, I would not be writing this! EXCLAMATION MARK.

It was extremely upsetting to realise how much indeed he must have been traumatised in life – unless he told my grandmother, he, as a silent witness, took ‘the secrete’ to his grave, having kept it ‘in the dark’ for 45 years! EXCLAMATION MARK.

The leader of the camp was executed on 28 May 1947 after he was found guilty for the crimes against humanity by the US military court at Dachau. The camp physician was, on the other hand, captured by the British and was found guilty at military court in Klagenfurt, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 10 Oct 1947. However, he was pardoned because of illness and released! EXCLAMATION MARK. He continued to work at the regional hospital in Klagenfurt as a chief physician, where he also later on ran a private clinic! EXCLAMATION MARK. He went on living until June 1991 without facing any real justices. No EXCLAMATION MARKS. Shortly before his death, in his interview for TV documentary entitled Der Tunnel (‘The Tunnel’), having been asked if he hated the prisoners, he replied:

Ich hatte keinen Grund, auch keine Veranlassung, jemanden zu hassen. Aber ich habe – na sagen wir es mal so – diese Menschen schon als minderwertig empfunden. [‘I had no reason, no reason to hate someone. But I have – well, let’s just say – already perceived these people as inferior’].

Shocking and shocked! And deeply hurt! EXCLAMATION MARKS.

On the other hand, my grandfather was offered a special medal for his bravery but decided to decline the Communist membership as his belief in God was stronger than in Communism! Whether he really believed in God as a way of reconciling his past, I am no longer sure.

All thinking men are atheists.
– Ernest Hemingway.

 

My cause for Europe: Hope for PEACE

To begin what Jo Cox may like to hear:

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.
– John Lennon

I want to remember my grandfather in life with six images:

– One, BIRDS – peace – him singing while imitating birds and inspiring my knowledge of various species that entered his back garden of beauty that he knew so well;

– Second, BIKE – resilience – while complaining that he could not go on (he suffered from rheumatism) and pushing his bike for a support, the next minute we saw him while cycling off happily as soon as he disappeared behind the house, thinking we would not see him;

– Third, FIELD – passion – him tendering potatoes in his field in a stoic manner that he cared for so much in his retirement, while my mum and I tried to rescue him from Yugoslav military planes flying over his head on the way to bomb the Ljubljana airport and the Krvavec RTV Slovenia transmitter. He could not hear them anymore;

– Fourth, HATS – obsession – him wearing different kinds of hats, even while tending his field;

Ata

– Fifth, PLANE – freedom – him longing to see the world from the above, the dream that finally came through on his 91th birthday accompanied by his brother.

Grandfather_1

Grandfather_2

– And final, TUNNEL – reconciliation & forgiveness. It was our last journey together at the end of August of 1999 before his death. While returning to London from Klagenfurt via Vienna, he wanted to accompany me to the airport and, as he said, to visit the Loibl Pass for the first time since ‘his digging job’. When we arrived at the border crossing – Slovenia was then not yet part of the EU – we realised that his ID was still from Yugoslavia, so he could not go through ‘the tunnel’ to Austria. I still see him standing there on the Slovene side of the border transfixed in his time and space, waving his graceful goodbye, while I wept like a child, knowing that was our last parting.

Although not showing I knew he felt extremely disappointed from the inside by not being able to accompany me, but only on Thursday did I realise that his ‘real’ desire to enter into ‘the tunnel’ was his hope to let go of the past – ‘the tunnel of darkness to see the light on the other side’ – and to forgive all those that had caused him harm and injustice. His ‘pass’ was for him a symbolic bridge for hope towards light, a hope for freedom and peace!

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King

Thank you, grandfather, I now understand why I could not write your story of ‘heroic actions’ as a child! I, now, can, as an adult. Thank you for giving me such a great opportunity to live in peace and inspire me to fight for. I will vote REMAIN as this is how you would want me to, singing with hope that peace you fought for is preserved for posterity. For love rather than hate!

Twiddlemuff: Knitting for Dementia

Posted in Craft, Projects by andrejabrulc on 21/05/2015

Have you ever heard of twiddlemuffs? Nor did I, until last Friday! Please read on, if interested.

As this week (17–23 May 2015) is the Dementia Awareness Week, I decided to have a go in making my first twiddlemuff in order to support a patient with dementia as part of the Forget-Me-Not project carried out by various NHS Foundation Trusts across the UK (for your local one see Dementia Action Alliance) asking knitters to contribute into. I am not a professional knitter but I use various craft techniques using yarn in the making of my illustrations and art projects. Knitting and crocheting reconnect me to the roots of my earlier female generations, so I am very grateful to my mum and grandmother who taught me all these ‘skills-for-life’ when I was a child, so that I am now able to make this contribution to a sad but beautiful project of LTC – Love, Tender and Care.

twiddlemuffe_bottom

What are Twiddlemuffs?

According to Bradford Teaching Hospital (the link has the pattern & instructions), twiddlemuffs are knitted hand muffs using various left-over yarn and being decorated with interesting bits and bobs attached inside and out. ‘They have been designed and developed to provide simple stimulation for active hands, while promoting increased flexibility and brain stimulation.’ Furthermore, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital says that people with dementia ‘often have restless hands and like to have something to keep their hands occupied.’ The twiddlemuff ‘provides a wonderful source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation and at the same time keeping hands snug and warm.’

Not only is, as recent studies have shown, the craft of knitting a therapy for depression – depression is one of the risk factors for developing dementia – but I also learn from Alzheimer’s Society that people with dementia remain involved in the community through knitting. As Adele Lacy, Dementia Support Worker, who runs Knit2gether group, says:

‘I thought of knitting because, even when people have forgotten everything else, it is an automatic skill which never goes. People might not be able to do a lot of things but knitting is something they can still remember and it is great for the members to see a finished product and think “I did that”.’

twiddlemuffe_top

Dedication of my Twiddlemuff

To me, it is impossible to imagine all the harrowing emotions charged, both, from the prospective of the diagnosed patient seeing one’s own inner decay as the illness progresses and from the prospective of his or her family. I have recently watched Julianne Moore’s outstanding performance in Still Alice, playing a role of a linguistic professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The film is so emotionally powerful, shown through the eyes of someone, who faces ‘a harrowing challenge as this terminal degenerative neurological ailment slowly progresses to an inevitable conclusion’ that we, survivors of the afflicted, all dread.

Also, over the last few years I have witnessed how my very close friend of mine (and his family) was coping and was emotionally effected by his father’s Alzheimer’s, who was given a full care at home with all LTC from the onset of the diagnosis to his recent death. I, therefore, thought I would dedicate my twiddlemuff in the memory of my friend’s father. I only wished I had known about these twiddlemuffs earlier!

twiddlemuffe_before decorationThe Story in the Making of my Twiddlemuff

As an image creator, often working according to briefs, I enjoy opportunities where I can experiment without rational thinking! I love building up stories that take me to the unknown, as I am interested in how different stories, through recycling and collaging, come together to make a new narrative. For this kind of experimentation I keep various kinds of boxes containing ‘bits and bobs’ – a Wunderkammer of history when things get pulled out!

As my friend and his family could not stop giving all the LTC to his father right to the end, for which I admired them so much, I thought that the overall design for my twiddlemuff needed to express that. I added a cross-stitched ‘LTC’ on the inside right at the end, but the overall design, however, really began to develop from the red and white striped ribbon with hearts before the base was even finished. The ribbon came with a Christmas present – a home-made jar of pickled herring –, given to me by my Danish colleague in 2007, and made and beautifully wrapped by her mum. In addition to the hearts, the reds became the centre to the colour scheme – also, because I wanted to include the left-over wool in bright red that my mum used to knit a striped jumper for me, which I wore when I started school back in mid 70s! It is here used as a central stripe and also for stitched outlined hearts. Furthermore, although a flower motive – daisies, fuchsia and, needless to say, most importantly, a forget-me-not – is more appropriate for a female patient, my friend’s dad was a very keen gardener, so it does make sense after all to add a touch of beauty from nature. Last, as the act of knitting is paramount to this LTC cause – to knit for the patients and the patients to knit –, it is important to pass such skills to younger generations as knitting is ‘an automatic skill that never goes away’. As I taught my little niece a stocking stitch a few years ago and as the twiddlemuff is meant to be embellished with buttons among many other things, I added one button, which I had to remove from her first-communion dress by her order! Although she and buttons are not best friends, she found it rather amusing that her ‘unlikable’ friend found its prominent place in the middle of the big heart!

As patients with dementia love hearing stories being told, I decided at the end to add a pocket in order to carry a note with all these amusing anecdotes in the making of his or her new twiddlemuff! Of course, I shall omit my friend’s dad’s story. R.I.P.

twiddlemuffe_after decoration

Graphic Design and UK General Elections 2015

Posted in Graphic Design by andrejabrulc on 09/05/2015

As the first time voter (originally from Slovenia) in the UK General Elections 2015, I cannot resist but summarise my ‘lasting’ impressions of ‘the unique’ experience at the polling station into 5 points from the point of view of my profession as a graphic designer: ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, TYPE, PAPER & PENCIL. The below may all seem normal to you but it somehow does not to someone with different experiences and expectations!

Architecture

As soon as the polling stations opened across the United Kingdom last Thursday, my Facebook feeds began to flood with images (due to copyright please see images directly from The Huffington Post) showing ARCHITECTURAL choices for these settings, which express, on the one hand, a positive aspect of UK’s uniqueness and eccentricity that has managed to grip on traditions for so many decades despite the globalised vision of the political elite at Westminster (let me remind you of the secret TTIP pact as discussed by Lee Williams of The Independent and why we should be scared of), while, on the other hand, The Huffington Post shows how rundown the Middle England actually still is well into the 21st century! It does not come to my surprise, really, as the examples of these settings show, at least to me as an outsider, that not much has really changed for ‘an ordinary’ British citizen since the time of Margaret Thatcher when I visited UK for the first time at a teenager back in 1986. The power and money are still centered on London and nothing will ever change unless British people are ready to do so! But who wants the change when the comfort of ‘our loos’ is just what we want it! The country – and London, for that matter – was in mid-80s so rundown in all aspects of life it gave me a real culture shock! It was so messy but I loved it for multiculturalism! Back to the point of last Thursday, even Slovenia, with 1/3 of UK GDP is ‘better off’ when it comes down to the architectural setting chosen for the election day! I wonder how many affordable accommodations will come out at the end of the 5 year period of the currently elected government! I do hope for some more comfortable settings for our polling stations, though, rather than portaloos, pliz!

Paper

The ‘grabby’ ballot PAPER you were given looked worse than a primary school print out! Fair enough, we were told – as soon as the figures from the exit poll came out and froze the drink in our hands before it reached our mouths – that the weight of the paper was especially chosen as light so that volunteers did not strain their backs when carrying ballot boxes to the counting people. Thank you, volunteers, what a great job you did, very much appreciated. And thank you local councils/constituencies to think about people’s backs! So more important now since ‘the majority’ of British people won’t be able to afford a private health care to treat our backs!

Design

The ballot paper was so poorly DESIGNED that even a pre-school kid would have done a better job of it on his/her parents’ computer! The kid would have wanted to add some colour to identify parties with as most people do so; he/she would have made the text bolder so that partially sighted people could see it better; and certainly, he/she would not have positioned the text so crookedly that on my sample it almost fell of the page! Bad design! The design is so paramount to get the right message across whatever it may be – if I am not mistaken, the last USA election, bringing Bush Junior back in power, had a flawed design that effected many voters across the States!

Type

You had to put an ‘X’ SYMBOL as the choice of your vote. Correct me if I am mistaken, the ‘X’ goes back to times when people could not write and used the ‘X’ as a form of signature. Hence, again to an outsider, to put the ‘X’ on a ballot paper – in a country with 99.7% literacy rate – in the 21st century is so patronising! More to the point, how many people who, like myself, have become British citizens at some point in their lives understand the symbol as YES! Let’s not discuss the symbol in relation to exams or homework and so on, where the symbol means as a WRONG answer, but in this instance, contrary to Britain, in many, if not most, cultures an X simply means a NO, full stop! I assume that these people have learnt their lesson by now! I would have put a TICK, had I not been warned about it just before I left home. Would my tick count? Probably not.

Pencil

The last point and what was really surprising, and please tell me if that is normal, I was given a PENCIL to make my ‘loving’ X hoping for better Britain! A pencil about 3 cms (1 inch) long! I know our local governments are on a tight budget but … Well, here is definitely something to think about. I was simply shocked when I was given the pencil! Over the years I had to work hard on learning ‘to trust’ (trustworthiness was not at the top of agenda when growing up back in ex-Yugoslavia) or ‘to accept everything is being said to be true’ but, at my age, I am not naive enough to accept the general assumption that the ‘X cannot be rubbed out’! Thumps down!

To sum up, going to a polling station seems to have been a form of entertainment for ‘many people’, a kind of ‘political tourism’ (please read ‘many people’ as those who swing between parties depending on ‘the direction of the wind’)! I really really ask myself how ‘many of these people’ really understood what policies they were voting for. Have they read manifestoes of all the parties and compared them? I know they were boring, too many promises, but still … Have they thought at all about what kind of consequences each party can have long-term on their lives, their children, their parents? It is not only about a 5 year term but many years to come! Was the election for them, for British people, or the elected few at Westminster? Tax on beer became lower at the last budget session but it is bound to go up at the next but what about the rest? Based on ‘X’ system, and to end with another typographical symbol, the answer to all my questions, in my opinion, is probably a big ‘0’!

 

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