Andreja Brulc's Blog

Day 0 [14 March 2020]: 2 Days before Covid-19 Lockdown: Art Material Delivery/Work At Home [an extract from the diary]

Posted in Children's, Covid-19/Lockdown Diary, Workshops by andrejabrulc on 14/03/2020

Thanks to my ex-colleague Marko from Slovenia and his brave trip to London last week, I was delivered extra art supply​ on Thursday​ — for a now already cancelled two sessions of lectures/workshops ​next Wednesday, ​as the country is ​preparing for a lockdown starting on Monday​ due to the Covid-19, and for my ​(first) ​children’s book project, ​as ​very handy to get on with while in self-isolation!

I am in Slovenia since Christmas — I arrived with 3 suitcases full of art material needed to complete the children’s book — a book of poetry​ on 4 seasons, which​ I wrote in 2011 as part of a sketchbook projectfor the Brooklyn Art Library, NY.​ I have a better workspace in my parents’ house, as my London ‘office’ at home does feel a bit claustrophobic for art-making!

​Some areas of the country ​have already been in a pre-lockdown mode​ since Thursday, when the first two patients, a doctor and a teacher from two different places, tested positive for the coronavirus after their return from a skiing holiday to Italy! Like all other EU countries, Slovenia is also two weeks behind in having made up an official decision to shut down the country, as the government should have stopped people travelling to the already badly affected areas of northern Italy during the half-term!

As it were – I am stuck, deliberately or not deliberately depending on from which perspective, in no man’s land. I do hope that my travel insurance covers me in case of the most black scenario!

In the meantime, I have, in fact, been self-isolating​/social distancing​ ​since mid-Feb, when bad news started to come from Italy, which, in all honestly, felt like next door! It became increasingly impossible to turn left (​go skiing) or right (return home) – so I decided to stay put and to carry on! It is a real fortunate that I did not take a short trip to London due to the uncertainty of the London Book Fair, as there would have been higher chances that I could have got stuck at home while all my art material was at my parents’ in Slovenia!

Day 0 [3 March 2020]: 13 Days before Covid-19 Lockdown: Albert Camus/The Plague/Human Behaviour (an extract from the diary)

Posted in Books, Covid-19/Lockdown Diary by andrejabrulc on 03/03/2020

There have been many plagues in the world as there have been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared. […] When a war breaks out people say: ‘It won’t last, it’s too stupid.’ And war is certainly too stupid, but that doesn’t prevent it from lasting. Stupidity always carries doggedly on, as people would notice if they were not always thinking about themselves. In this respect, the citizens of Oran were like the rest of the world, they thought about themselves, in other words, they were humanists: they did not believe in pestilence. A pestilence does not have human dimensions, so people tell themselves that it is unreal, that it is a bad dream which will end. But it does not always end and, from one bad dream to the next, it is people who end, humanists first of all because they have not prepared themselves. – Albert Camus, The Plague (1947)

When the Covid-19 was starting to come closer and closer to ‘home’ – as the epicentre moved from China to Italy in February – I must admit I started to panic! As of today – when I read this interesting article on Italy’s response to the coronavirus, titled “Epidemics Reveal the Truth About the Societies They Hit”, written by Anne Applebaum, and published in The Atlantic yesterday – the coronavirus is still being classified as an epidemic by the WHO [PS: the WHO declared it pandemic on 11 March]. Applebaum takes Albert Camus’s good and evil characters from The Plague and compares them to the current context of the coronavirus crisis:

‘A pestilence does not have human dimensions, so people tell themselves that it is unreal, that it is a bad dream that will end,’ Albert Camus wrote in The Plague. This, of course, very much describes the current situation: Many people cannot bear the idea that something invisible can change their plans. Published in 1947, The Plague has often been read as an allegory, a book that is really about the occupation of France, say, or the human condition. But it’s also a very good book about plagues, and about how people react to them—a whole category of human behaviour that we have forgotten.

The novel – the image (above) of the cover from Vintage edition of 1991 – is believed, according to Wikipedia, to be based on the cholera epidemic that killed a large percentage of Oran’s population, a small town in Algeria, in 1849, following French colonization, but the novel is placed in France in the 1940s.

The Plague is considered as an existentialist classic, similar to Kafka’s work, in particular, The Trial, where “individual sentences have multiple meanings, the material often pointedly resonating as a stark allegory of phenomenal consciousness and the human condition [Wikipedia].” Not only has The Plague been read as an allegorical treatment of the French resistance to Nazi occupation during WWII, but also how the world deals with the philosophical notion of the Absurd.

Camus wrote the novel about everyday life under quarantine for the inhabitants of Oran. It takes the reader through various questions related to the nature of destiny and human conditions. The book is a perfect display of characters as ‘human types’ – from politicians to doctors and holidaymakers to fugitives – all showing the effects the plague has on their psychology and how they respond.

Villains – like a priest – exploit the uncertainty of the humanitarian crisis as a tool for manipulation to enforce through their ideological agenda, where, for instance, the priest uses the plaque to increase his flock. As Applebaum says: “He tells his congregation that the epidemic is God’s way of punishing unbelievers.” She adds: “In modern Italy, the first person to seek to manipulate the anxiety created by the coronavirus was Matteo Salvini, the Italian far-right leader who immediately called for the government to shut the country’s borders, stop all public meetings and keep people home.”

Heroes, on the other hand, are, however, not the kind of heroes – superheroes or role models one finds in other fiction or movies – but are the doctors and the volunteers who help them, or even, as Applebaum says: “a civil servant, Monsieur Grand, who seeks to deal with the plague by recording it, measuring it, and keeping track of what has happened: ‘This insignificant and self-effacing hero who had nothing to recommend him but a little goodness in his heart and apparently a ridiculous ideal. This would be to give the truth its due, to give the sum of two and two as four.’ Grand, Dr Rieux, and a few others try to use science, transparency, and accuracy to contain and control the disease and to save as many people as possible, without giving in to hysteria or despair: ‘It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency’.”

I agree with Applebaum, who adds:

These are the kinds of people who will be the heroes in our era, too. The scientists and public-health scholars who immediately put out information about numbers and cases; the research teams that immediately began to work on vaccines; the nurses and doctors who immediately decide to remain inside quarantined regions, as many did in Italy, as well as in Wuhan, China. Not all of their judgments will be correct, and they will not always agree with one another: There is no precise way to determine which quarantines and cancellations are prudent and which are unreasonable, given the potential economic effects on the one hand, and the real desire to slow the spread of the epidemic on the other. In Italy, there have already been a few public squabbles among virologists who have different estimates of how bad the disease will be. … But at least they have the public’s interest at heart.

Illustration / Part 6: People

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 26/08/2019

I love mankind … it’s people I can’t stand! – Charles M. Schulz

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. – Martin Luther King

Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character. – Albert Einstein

Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary. – Oscar Wilde

When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time. – Maya Angelou

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. – Nelson Mandela

Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions. – Paulo Coelho

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Further to my five posts – four on the natural world (Part 1: Trees, Part 2: Shrubs & Vines, Part 3: Flowers and Part 4: Animals) and one on the man-made world (Part 5: Places) – I am now posting the six theme (out of 12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration. The theme is dedicated to people and is divided into two sections – historical and contemporary.

Photography has always served me as a starting point for the process of making artworks. Artworks – inspired by photographs of famous literary figures (like Kafka and his family) or well-known works of art (like Masaccio’s Adam and Eve from The Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence) – belong to the ‘historical’ section. On the other hand, artworks, based on my own photography, fall into the ‘contemporary’ section. While the majority of my photography is accidental gathered through my travels and day trips, a small percentage is intentional depending on the aspect of a project – thanks to my family and friends often used as sitters! Also, while some of the photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, others were the starting point for experiments as details 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. Historical

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see. – Leonardo da Vinci

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. – Marcel Proust

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal. – Jane Austen, Jane Austin’s Letters

Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves. – Emily Brontë

It is good people who make good places.” – Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. – Mark Twain

 

2. Contemporary

Hell is—other people! – Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” – John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Don’t waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear. – Paulo Coelho

Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone? – Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. – Barack Obama

Our uniqueness makes us special, makes perception valuable – but it can also make us lonely. This loneliness is different from being ‘alone’: You can be lonely even surrounded by people. The feeling I’m talking about stems from the sense that we can never fully share the truth of who we are. I experienced this acutely at an early age. – Amy Tan

Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours. – Elton John

What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people. – David Bowie

Imagine all the people living life in peace. 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 be as one. – John Lennon

 

 

 

 

Illustration / Part 5: Places

Posted in Books, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 26/08/2019

Wherever you go, go with all your heart! – Confucius

Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. – Neale Donald Walsch

There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. – Charlotte Eriksson

Own only what you can always carry with you: known languages, known countries, known people. Let your memory be your travel bag. – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Further to my four posts on the natural world – Part 1: Trees, Part 2: Shrubs & Vines, Part 3: Flowers and Part 4: Animals – I am now posting the fifth theme (out of 12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration. The theme, first in the series of the man-made world, is dedicated to our places in which we live and is divided into two sections – urban and rural.

Photography has always served me as a starting point for the process of making artworks. While the majority of photography is accidental gathered through my travels and day trips, a small percentage is intentional depending on the aspect of a project. A few artworks are also based on historical or contemporary visual documents, such as those showing St Petersburg and Kabul respectively. Also, while some of my photos were used in their entirety depending on the subject matter, many, on the other hand, were the starting point for experiments as details 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.

God made the country, and man made the town. – William Cowper

Knowledge and power in the city; peace and decency in the country. – Mason Cooley

 

1. Urban

When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city. Finally he comes to Isidora, a city where the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters a third, where cockfights degenerate into bloody brawls among the bettors. He was thinking of all these things when he desired a city. Isidora, therefore, is the city of his dreams: with one difference. The dreamed-of city contained him as a young man; he arrives at Isidora in his old age. In the square there is the wall where the old men sit and watch the young go by; he is seated in a row with them. Desires are already memories. – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams. – Herb Caen

Under trees, the urban dweller might restore his troubled soul and find the blessing of a creative pause. – Walter Gropius

Nature is impersonal, awe-inspiring, elegant, eternal. It’s geometrically perfect. It’s tiny and gigantic. You can travel far to be in a beautiful natural setting, or you can observe it in your backyard – or, in my case, in the trees lining New York City sidewalks, or in the clouds above skyscrapers. – Gretchen

 

2. Rural

I like rural areas. – Will Oldham

I long for the countryside. That’s where I get my calm and tranquility – from being able to come and find a spot of green. – Emilia Clarke

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. – Georgia O’Keeffe

In small towns, news travels at the speed of boredom. – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

People have a tendency to see country life through rose-colored glasses. – PJ Harvey

City people. They may know how to street fight but they don’t know how to wade through manure. – Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

Country life has its advantages…You sit on the veranda drinking tea and your ducklings swim on the pond, and everything smells good… and there are gooseberries. – Anton Chekhov

Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there. – Oscar Wilde

I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. – Albert Einstein

Illustration / Part 4: Animals

Posted in Books, Children's, Illustrations, Photography by andrejabrulc on 02/11/2017

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
– George Orwell

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
– Emmanuel Kant

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
– Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not an animal lover if that means you think things are nice if you can pat them, but I am intoxicated by animals.
– Sir David Attenborough

00_animals-tortoiseFurther to my three recent posts on the natural world – Part 1: Trees, Part 2: Shrubs & Vines and Part 3: Flowers – I am now posting the fourth theme (out of 12 in total) that have most commonly ‘appeared’ throughout my work in order to mark my 10th anniversary of graphic design and illustration. It is the last part of the natural world focusing on animals divided into three sections – insects, birds, small and large mammals. While the majority of work shown below was done for book covers, the section on small mammals also includes artworks showing ‘a cat, a dog and a mouse at play’ for a children’s book of poetry on 12 colours called Barvice (Eng. Coloured Pencils). Finally, I am, additionally, posting the fourth section – weird and wonderful animals I encountered during the last trip to Mexico (Oaxaca), where I undertook a research as part of art residency (Nov 2012–Jan 2013) on various aspects of Mexico for the upcoming children’s picture book.

 

1. Insects

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Muhammad Ali

I should like to present myself to the young painters of the year 2000 with the wings of a butterfly.
– Pierre Bonnard

Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
– Pablo Picasso

01_animals-insects-butterfly 02_animals-insects-butterfly

04_animals-insects-butterfly06_animals-insects-spider-web

07_animals-insects-spider-web

05_animals-insects-cockroach

08_animals-insects-and-brids-bees-and-birds

 

2. Birds

No one is free, even birds are chained to the sky.
Bob Dylan

Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.
Tom Waits

A bird doesn’t sign because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
Maya Angelou

A forest bird never wants a cage.
Henrik Ibsen

The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky.
– Jane Goodall

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10_animals-birds

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12_animals-birds-crow

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14_animals-birds-pegeons

 

3. Small mammals

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.
James Herriot

Time spent with cats is never wasted.
– Sigmund Freud

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.
Walt Disney

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
– Josh Billings

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24_animals-small-mammals-mouse

 

4. Weird and wonderful creatures

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.
Charles Darwin

Our task must bbe to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
– Albert Einstein

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essense of inhumanity.
– George Bernard Show

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.
– Dalai Lama

It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb, because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
– Mark Twain

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 – 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 – wildflowers, 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 the 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. Wildflowers

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

01_flowers-dandelions

02_flowers-daisy

03_flowers-daisy

04_flowers-daisy

05_flowers-daisies

07_flowers-poppy

08_flowers-daffodils

09_flowers-daffodil

10_flowers-daffodil

 

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

13_flowers-poenies

14_flowers-gereniums

15_flowers-gereniums

16_flowers-elder-tree-blossoms

 

16b_flowers-water-lilly

16c_flowers-water-lilly

16d_flowers-water-lilly

16e_flowers-water-lilly

16f_flowers-water-lilly

 

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

16_flowers-red-fort_diwan-i-khas_marble-inlay

17_flowers-red-fort_diwan-i-khas_marble-inlay

18_flowers-paper-flower

19_flowers-paper-flower

20_flowers-paper-flower

 

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

20_flowers-marigold

21_flowers-marigolds

22_flowers-marigolds-dia-de-lost-muertos

23_flowers-marigolds

24_flowers-marigolds25_flowers-marigolds

26_flowers-dried-marigolds

28_flowers-dry-grass

29_flowers-dried-flowers

27_flowers-dried-hydrangea

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 – 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

01_shrub-white-magnolia

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)

02_shrub-rose-bush

 

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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04_vine-clematis

05_vine-ivy

06_vine-ivy

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08_vine-ivy

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!

wells_cathedral_st-andrews_cross_arches_2

The day also reminds me of my favourite example representing the martyrdom of St Andrew in visual arts. The scissor arches, also known as St Andrew’s Cross – the world-famous architectural detail from my best-loved English Cathedral that I saw together with my parents – support 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 the tradition has it that the Apostle had been crucified on a cross in the form, known as crus decussata (X-shaped cross, or saltire) according to his own wishes, as he did not deem himself worthy of martyrdom in the same manner as his master! The X-shape of St Andrew’s Cross is the heraldic symbol in the Scottish flag.

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 naturalisation 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. 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 ‘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 the 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 the 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 labelled 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!

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