Andreja Brulc's Blog

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

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Illustration: The Life of ‘the Painter’ and the Death of ‘the Girl’ / Margriet de Moor

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 21/04/2013

In the days leading up to the opening of the Rijksmuseum, I was working solidly for five days on this embroidery, collaged with a patchwork, as my response to the book The Painter and the Girl (De schilder en het meisje) by the Dutch writer Margriet de Moor. It does seem rather morbid to have wasted so much time on this time-consuming technique for a subject as gloomy as it appears on the embroidery, but as the story is closely inspired by at least two historical records – visual and textual – I decided to respond as part of my process as closely as I could! At least the time and place of the story gave me the opportunity to have my first go at using a satin stitch, but before I return to the making, I will first set its context against the story (the book has not yet been translated into English) describing the fate of two main protagonists – the life of ‘the painter’ and the death of ‘the girl’.

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Time and Place: The context for two parallel worlds

Rembrandt_Met_DP800559As the title of the book may suggest, the author uses one of the greatest masters of the 17th century Dutch painting as her main protagonist in much the same way as Tracy Chevalier uses Vermeer for her historical novel Girl with a Pearl Earring. In fact, when I started reading the book I thought I was entering into the world of the same historical narrative, but the reader soon discovers that the story is in fact placed in Amsterdam instead of Delft, the city of Vermeer. It, therefore, becomes obvious after a few pages into reading that the historical narrative of the male protagonist, although the name of ‘the painter’ is never clearly spelt out, is inspired by ‘a particular part’ in the life of the greatest master of Amsterdam and indeed the highlight of the museum, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). But while Chevalier’s female protagonist comes directly from the Vermeer household of servants, de Moor’s ‘painter’ never meets ‘the girl’ in her life. Her identity is, however, soon revealed as Elsje Christiaens – the subject of two Rembrandt’s drawings, now kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, showing The Girl Hanging on a Gibbet, who was identified as Elsje by I.H. van Eaghen in 1969 (see cat. no. 138, Rembrandt’s Women (exh. cat.), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2001, p. 238).

De Moor first sets the background for her story – a description of Amsterdam as a symbol of the Golden Age in all aspects of life. The city is flourishing due to trade and particularly due to Dutch naval supremacy, and is commissioning art and architecture. As a result of its prosperity, Amsterdam becomes a magnet for artists and travellers from all corners of the world. The town hall (now Royal Palace) on the Dam – an architectural wonder and a symbol of Dutch democracy – is opened in 1655. It is also the palace of justice, where criminals, locked in its dungeons, are given the final verdict by the city councillors.

The story has a precise date – 1 May 1664. The narrative of both protagonists is set into two parallel worlds: both worlds evolve as flashbacks, which in turn lead up to the specific date. But it is the town hall that brings their fate – the life of ‘the painter’ and the death of ‘the girl’ – together.

The painter and the town hall

Rembrandt_van_Rijn_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project_WikimediaOn the one hand, we follow the story of ‘the painter’. In 1664 Rembrandt (Self-Portrait, right, from 1659, National Gallery of Washington) was an old man of 58 left with two children – Titus and Cornelia, the first from his marriage with Saskia and the second from his illegitimate liaison with Hendrickje (ex-housemaid). Saskia died soon after giving birth to their son Titus in 1642. In her will, Rembrandt was given a full possession of her property and any benefits from it unless he remarried or died, which would have had a profound effect on his finances, so this must have made his decision never to marry again, including Hendrickje, who died in 1663.

A few years before Rembrandt was commissioned a large oil painting, The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis (1661-62), by the city council of the town hall. The painting, now in Stockholm’s National Museum, was returned to him, just before the death of Hendrickje, probably due to a lack of decorum required for a history painting. It seems likely that he was never paid for it – when we meet ‘the painter’ in the story, he is in terrible financial difficulties, probably because by then his style may no longer be in demand  – and when the canvas is returned to him, he cuts it into pieces in order to sell them individually. Also, his household items are confiscated by the city officials in order to raise money to pay off his debts. So, his relationship with the town hall is by no means on friendly terms! At the beginning of the story, on the morning of 1 May 1664, ‘the painter’ even avoids following the flow of people going to the Dam to see the execution of ‘the girl’. ‘The painter’ bears witness to hanging in Leiden but never to strangulation. The full account of the execution is only narrated to him by his son towards the end of the book.

VolewijckIn the final chapter, in the afternoon of the execution, ‘the painter’ sets out with his bag containing art materials in order to meet Elsje ‘in her death’. By then her body is already transferred and displayed on a gibbet on the headland of the Volewijck (now the northern part of Amsterdam) – the public execution field as seen in the print on the left by Anthonie van Borssum (1644), where the criminals were publicly hung and their bodies left to the crows and ravens.

The girl and the town hall

On the other hand, we follow the story of Elsje Christiaens, an 18 years old girl from Jutland (Denmark), whose past and her journey to Amsterdam is created by the author. Elsje, after her older sister suddenly disappears with her sailor but leaves secretly behind five golden coins for her younger sibling, decides to set on her adventure to Amsterdam as she sees the city as the promised land. She arrives to Amsterdam in April 1664. Her dream turns into a nightmare. Rather than finding a job as a maid, she is driven by an unconditional love for her sister in finding her in the city. She fails. Perhaps her sister is already consumed by the bubonic plague that ravages the city. The money runs out quickly. The story from now on follows closely the historical account (see W. L. Strauss, M. van Muelen (eds.), The Rembrandt Documents, New York 1979, 1664/1). On the 27th April the landlady hits Elsje with a broom as ‘the girl’ is unable to pay her rent (in the story the landlady even forces ‘the girl’ into prostitution), but Elsje decides to take a revenge on the landlady and kills her with an axe. As Elsje is being chased out of the inn, she jumps into the Damrak, from where she gets pulled out and saved from drowning. She is locked in the dungeons of the town hall. She shows no remorse during her trail. She meets the verdict for her crime and is sentenced on 1 May 1664 – according to the historical record, it is stated that the executioner is to strike her on the head ‘several times with the same axe with which she killed the woman’ (in the book the execution is by strangulation) and it is ordered that her body then be ‘brought to Volwyck and fastened to a pole with an axe above her head, to decay in the air and to be devoured by birds’. Both drawings from the MET show Elsje with the axe dangling down next to her left shoulder and with her skirt tied with a rope in order to spare her from further humiliation in death.

The Making of the Embroidery: The Presence of the Artist and the Absence of the Sitter

As the threads of the two parallel worlds lead to a culminating point – the meeting of ‘the painter’ of ‘his sitter’ in death – it would, therefore, seem obvious that the illustration required a response to Rembrandt’s drawing as a starting point.

I decided to use the technique of embroidery on canvas in order to replicate the drawing as a kind of ‘painting in stitch’. This old technique reminds me of the woven effect reminiscent of tapestries – Dutch tapestries of the 17th century were considered of the highest quality in Europe, with Amsterdam and Delft being the main production centres. Also, Rembrandt was certainly interested in embroidered fanciful ‘antique’ costumes – whether he actually kept them or painted them from his imagination or even used Old Master prints as a source of his inspiration – as it is evident from some of the female costumes depicted in his historical paintings showing women wearing heavily embroidered textiles. As Marieke de Winkel points out, according to the list of his possessions from 1656 (see ibid., The Rembrandt Documents, 1656/12), Rembrandt did not own a large collection of old costumes but he rather kept ‘a quantity of ancient textiles of diverse colours’, acquired for his study of patterns and colours, and of the fall of drapery (‘Some Interpretations of the Dress of Rembrandt’s Women Re-evaluated’, in Rembrandt’s Women, pp. 61–63). Using the satin stitch as a preference for my piece, I was not only able to outline the figure of ‘the girl’ and fill the shapes of her clothing using threads varying in colour – red for the dress, purple for the overcoat, browns for the boots made of reindeer skin – as described in the book but also to follow the folds of her dress using threads varying in lengths, thus reinforcing the idea of light and shadow in the fall of the drapery.

It is not known whether Rembrandt, like ‘the painter’ in de Moor’s story, did actually draw Elsje from life – her lifeless body is heavily isolated from any surrounding background of the Volewijck. Also, the two MET drawings on Japanese paper are considered very rare drawings by Rembrandt recording a particular event. However, it does seem that Rembrandt was acquainted with the surrounding area as he did a landscape drawing of the Bend in the Diemerdijk looking towards Nieuwendam around 1649–50. As de Moor’s description of the execution field is very close to the print by van Borssum – ‘the painter’ has to take a boat to reach the place surrounded by water and reeds – I decided to recreate the world around ‘the girl’ in much the same way. I created a patchwork using three different kinds of fabrics representing the headland (brown) surrounded by the sea (two blues). Different sorts of reeds were then stitched onto the patchwork, with the crow flying out of the reeds in the direction of ‘the girl’. In other words, I imagined the world for the embroidery as it is (was perhaps) seen through the eyes of ‘the painter’ (Rembrandt) – ‘the on-looker’ – of ‘the girl’ (Elsje Christiaens) in her death as ‘his absent sitter’.

MEXICO Project: Typographic Mexican cuisine

Posted in Craft, MEXICO by andrejabrulc on 16/01/2013

This typographic stitching artwork titled Espagueti con chile poblano was inspired by one of my favourite dishes I had in Mexico. It comes from Angela’s kitchen at Arquetopia. The dish is called Spaghetti with creamy roasted chile poblano sauce (Espagueti con Salsa Cremosa de Chiles Poblano). Her recipe can be found below. Provecho!

Andreja Brulc_Espagueti con chile poblano

Ingredients
1 pack of spaghetti (250g per 2 servings if a main dish)
4 medium size fresh green chile poblano, without skin and seeded, roasted (picture below with 3 poblanos only)DSC_0258
1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil
1 Philadelphia cheese
1/2 cup of milk
3/4 cup of thick (double) cream
1 large onion, finely chopped after cooked with spaghetti
1 large garlic clove or 2 small ones
butter for onions
other herbs and spices to taste (pepper, salt)

Notes
– In Mexico, this dish is traditionally made with spaghetti, but other pasta can be used instead.
– The dish can be served with a grilled chicken breast and salad. In this case, the above ingredients are sufficient for 4 servings.
– Some recipes used chicken stock, while Angela’s recipe uses only salt to taste, added at the end.
– Instead of an ordinary thick cream (double) you can also use sour cream or cream cheese.


Instructions

1. Add spaghetti to a boiling water containing salt, onion and oil. When soft, remove from heat. Drain and set aside until the sauce is ready.
2. Roast the cleaned chillies in a flat pan (comal), so that the shell can be removed when rinsed in water. Remove the seeds. Alternatively, instead of roasting the chillies in the flat pan, place the cleaned peppers directly onto the flame of the burner on the cooker. Then let the skin char slightly making sure you turn them to have an evenly roasted skin. Then place the roasted pobalnos into a plastic bag or cover with a kitchen towel and let them sweat with their steam for about 15 minutes to loosen up their skin. Using a knife or your finger, remove the core of the pepper with the seeds and the veins. Clean under running water or with a paper towel.
3. Prepare the sauce by mixing the roasted chillies with milk, cream and Philadelphia cheese and blend until smooth.
4. Separately, fry the onion and garlic in butter in a larger sauce pan, and when gold, add the sauce to the pan.
5.Thicken the whole mixture by slowly simmering it for 10 minutes (low heat). Stir frequently.
6. Add the spaghetti to the thicken paste and salt to taste.
7. Served in a dish with cream if left over.

MEXICO Project: Christmas Symbols: Piñatas

Posted in Craft, MEXICO by andrejabrulc on 25/12/2012

In Mexico one of the most recognisable Christmas symbols is a piñata (pin-yah-ta).

DSC_0521I made three piñatas for the piñata page as part of the ‘celebrations and festivals’ section of my kids book on Mexico. First, a 7-cone star (estrella) representing the Star of Bethlehem; second, a donkey (burro) representing the animal on which Mary rode pregnant to Bethlehem; and third, a Christmas tree (árbol de Navidad) – all of which are traditional shapes used for the 9 days of Las Posadas, Christmas and the Three Kings in Mexico. At other times, piñatas are usually shaped as different animals or cartoon characters, but can be other shapes too.

Description

A piñata is a hollow shape made out of paper, cardboard and glue. It is decorated with coloured crepe and tissue paper as well as other items using a papier-mache technique. Traditionally, it had been made from adobe (olla de barro roja). Each piñata is filled with sweets, small toys, fruits and yam beans.DSC_0532

DSC_0376Origin

Breaking of the piñata as a popular party game is traditionally associated with Mexico used for special celebrations and festivities. It is an essential form of entertainment for kids at Las Posadas, Christmas, the Three Kings and birthday parties. However, the piñata probably originally comes from China. The Chinese version was in the form of cows, oxen or buffaloes, covered with coloured paper. It was filled with seeds and then broken with a stick during the New Year celebrations. The remains were burnt and ashes served for good luck throughout the year.

The piñatas were introduced from China to Europe in the 14th century by the explorer Marco Polo. They were adopted for the first Sunday of the Lent (Piñata Sunday). In Spain, this festival was called the Dance of the Piñata. The Spanish made them out of clay in the form of a pot (olla de barro roja). Later on, ribbons and colour paper were added. The word piñata probably comes from the Italian word pignatta meaning a ‘fragile pot’. It is also linked to the Spanish word piña meaning a pineapple.

Introduction of piñatas to Mexico and their religious significance

The Spanish missionaries brought the European tradition of piñatas to Mexico in the 16-century. They used them to attract the indigenous people to the Christian ceremonies. However, there had already been similar traditions before the Spanish Conquest. The AZTEC tradition was to celebrate the birth of their supreme god, Huitzilopochtli, in mid-December. Priests would attach a clay pot decorated with colourful feathers on a pole in the temple of the deity and when hit with a club, the hidden treasure would fall at the feet of the idol as an offering. Similarly, the MAYA, who were great lovers of sport, played the game in which a player was blindfolded while hitting the clay pot suspended by a string.

The Augustinian monks modified their European tradition by incorporating aspects of these games for their religious instruction (catechism). They also created Las Posadas tradition to co-opt the commemoration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli. A small town just north of Mexico City, Acolman (State of Mexico), claims, according to the local sources, to be the origin of the Las Posadas tradition as well as the birthplace of piñatas in Mexico. It helds an annual national Piñata and Las Posadas Fair (Feria de la Posada y la Piñata) in early December.

Traditionally, the piñatas therefore had a religious significance. The Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata was based on the struggle of man against temptation. The decorated CLAY pot (cantero) represents SATAN, who wears a variety of masks to attract people. As the traditional style of the piñatas is in the shape of a seven-pointed star, the CONES represent the SEVEN DEADLY SINS, known as the cardinal vices or capital sins (pecados) – greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath and lust. The seasonal FRUITS and SWEETS inside the piñata symbolise the TEMPTATIONS OF EVIL (of wealth and earthly pleasures). The piñata, therefore, reflects 3 THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES – faith, hope and charity. First, the BLINDFOLDED PERSON with a stick – the main force in defying evil – stands for FAITH (Fe). The spinning of the blindfolded person and singing by the other participants represent the disorientation caused by the temptation. The person is turned thirty times, one spin for each year of Christ’s life. Second, the piñata is a symbol of HOPE (Esperanza). As the piñata is hang from the above, participants look towards the sky/heaven (los cielos) waiting for the award. While hitting the piñata signifies the struggle against temptation of evil, the stick itself symbolises virtue as only good can overcome evil. Once the piñata is broken, the TREATS inside represent the AWARD for keeping the faith. And third, the piñata symbolises CHARITY (Caridad) as every participant shares in the divine blessings and gifts!

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How to make a piñata

For the star, I used a papier-mache technique though I think that it is unnecessary if you are using a clay pot. It is however essential if a balloon is used to make the body of your star or any other round shapes. In this case, the two websites are useful: first and second. I would recommend not to use the shiny metal based paper as it is difficult to shape around the round shaped pot.

DSC_0354 DSC_0356 DSC_0359

For the other two shapes I decided to use useful DIY instructions on Oh Happy Day blog, which uses a glue technique rather than the complications of a papier-mache technique using a flower-water mixture, which takes ages for a piñata to dry. I used crepe, China and hand-made amate papers. The Christmas tree was decorated with snow flakes using crochet.

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The game

While the piñata has now lost the religious significance, the ceremony remains the same. To play the game, the piñata is hung up from a string suspended from a tree or a ceiling. Each child has a turn at hitting the piñata with a wooden stick. Before hitting the piñata, the child puts on a blindfold. The other players spin him or her round, while an adult is moving the piñata away from the blindfolded child. The player can try to hit the piñata in the time it takes for the other players to sing a traditional song. The game is finished when the piñata breaks and everything inside falls on the ground. P.S: The photos below are from one of Las Posadas in Tlacolula (Oaxaca Valley) where children where not blindfolded, nor where they span around, but the piñatas were being pulled up and away from children making it harder to hit.

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World Book Day 2012

Posted in Books, Craft, Projects by andrejabrulc on 01/03/2012

Today is World Book Day in the UK, and I contributed a postcard to the Random Project to mark this occasion. The words related to the theme were: “Words”, “Dream”, “World” and “Imagine”. The postcard below is a response to the “Words”.

The hand-made letters were originally created for a public art installation – France Prešeren’s New Outfit – dressing the Slovene Romantic poet in a huge cloak, whose monument stands in the main square in Ljubljana. The project was created for the Festival Fabula 2010, run by a literary book publisher Študentska založba, as the central event of Ljubljana time as UNESCO World Book Capital 2010. I have created over 200 book covers for the publisher since 2007, hence my naughty play on the usual phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

World Book Day (World Book and Copyright Day) is a yearly event organised by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It is a celebration of authors, illustrators and books.  According to the UK World Book Day, the main aim of today in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children of all ages to come together in order to explore the pleasure of books and reading by providing them with a £1 token against the purchase of a book from the list. The organisation will send these tokens to schools that participate in World Book Day.

According to Wikimedia, World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on 23 April. The connection between this date and books was first made in 1923 by Spanish booksellers to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes in the Catalonian festival who died on that day.

In 1995 UNESCO decided that World Book Day would be celebrated on that day, as the source say, because of the Catalonian festival and because the date is also the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, the death of Carvantes, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Josep Pia, and the birth of Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Mejíla Vallejo and Halldór Laxness.

The date for World Book Day however differs from country to country. In the UK and the Republic of Ireland is held annually on the first Thursday in March as the established international 23 April would clash with Easter school holidays and as the 23 April is also the National Saint’s day of England, St George’s Day.

World Book Day is not funded by the British government. The funding for activities mainly comes from the major sponsor, National Book Tokens, and the UK book trade (publishers and booksellers).

So much more important that books still get published in hard copies. Cheers.

Sketchbook Project 2012: Stitches and Folds

Posted in Craft, Exhibitions, Projects, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 28/02/2012

I decided again this year to participate in the Sketchbook Project 2012, the main project out of many run by the Art House Co-op based at The Brooklyn Art Library in New York. This year nearly 20,000 of sketchbooks will be exhibited in 14 cities across North America, and for the first time this year, in London for contributors from Europe and in Melbourne if the artist resides in Australia.

For the details of the Project Overview see the post about last year’s Fiction Sketchbook. The only difference between this and the fiction one is that with this project you did not have to tell the story in text. You are free to develop your theme.

The theme I picked this time is Stitches and Folds. The entire sketchbook was folded and stitched. I folded the pages inwards, starting from the middle of the sketchbook, with the first two pages folded so that the outer edges met the gutter. I then folded each page, with the size of each fold decreasing in equal increments towards each end of the book. I then added various papers under each fold, stitching folds and papers together each time with a different kind of stitch and at a random pace, using threads varying in thickness and colour.

For images of all other pages of this Sketchbook Project click Flickr. Here are some examples.

The tour stars in April 2012, and we shall welcome the sketchbooks in London this October.

Brooklyn, NY
April 14th-30th
Brooklyn Art Library
103A N. 3rd St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
 
Chicago, IL
May 3rd-5th
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
 
Portland, OR
May 11th-13th
The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel
1022 SW Stark St
Portland, OR
 
Vancouver, Canada
May 15th-16th
W2 Media Cafe
111 W Hastings St.
Vancouver, BC
 
Los Angeles, CA
May 24th-26th
iam8bit
2147 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
 
San Francisco Bay Area
June
Pop-Up Library
 
Greater Boston Area
July 6th-8th
LynnArts
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, MA
 
Portland, ME
July 11th-14th
SPACE Gallery
538 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
 
Toronto, Canada
July 18th-22nd
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
 
Philadelphia, PA
Aug 23rd-25th
The Painted Bride
co-presented with InLiquid
230 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
 
Atlanta, GA
Aug 29th – Sept 1st
MASS Collective
364 Nelson St. SW
Atlanta, GA
 
Austin, TX
September 8th-16th
Co-Lab Project Space
613 Allen St.
Austin, TX
 
London, England
October
Canada Water Library
co-presented with The Albany
and Southwark Council
21 Surrey Quays Rd.
London, SE16
 
Melbourne, Australia
November 10th-21st
NGV Studio
Federation Square
Russell & Flinders Sts
Melbourne

Fiction Sketchbook Project 2011: It must be …

Posted in Craft, Exhibitions, Projects, Sketchbook by andrejabrulc on 29/05/2011

The Cover

I participated in the Fiction Sketchbook Project 2011, which is one of many Sketchbook Projects run by the Art House Co-op (now called The Sketchbook Project) based at The Brooklyn Art Library. Since its inception in 2006, the Art House Co-op has initiated many international art projects and has brought together thousands of artists from all over the world.

The Project Overview

The Fiction Sketchbook Project is an opportunity to tell stories in a different way by fusing text and images. As a rule of thumb, the Art House Co-op recommends that you dedicate 51% of your sketchbook to words.

After one signs up to participate, Art House Co-op sends participants a Moleskin sketchbook (in this case, 5.25×8.25 inches). One can pick up the theme from a list of 40 themes, or choose to have the theme randomly assigned. However, once the theme is chosen, one is stuck with it! The themes are supposed to be a starting point, not a restriction. The theme I chose was It must be…

The Making

I decided from the start to treat my selected theme as if I was constructing a children’s picture book in the sketchbook. I wrote a simple narrative about four seasons seen through the eyes of a child. Each spread was, therefore, carefully worked out in advance on the basis that it was to contain a single sentence accompanied by a direct visual response.

As you are free to rebind the sketchbook, use a different paper, and do whatever you want to the front and back covers, I opted to rebind my sketchbook in a Coptic style binding using Fabriano Hot Press 90lb paper. This was an enormous fan as it was the first time I undertook such a process.

You can also use any medium as long as the book keeps to the same dimensions when closed. I used a mixed media combining illustration with photography, typography and traditional techniques, such as hand-printing, stitching, patchwork and crocheting, as well as and industrial materials, such as scrim tape.

Finally, as you are especially encouraged to write the text by hand, I chose to use a hand-written script type created a while ago in association with a book cover for Beletrina and have since used it in other occasions.

For all images of this Fiction Sketchbook click Flickr. Here are some examples.

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Winter

After traveling across the United States (see the venues below), the Fiction Project will enter into the Brooklyn Art Library’s narrative collection.

Brooklyn Art Library
103A N. 3rd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(Open Tue – Sun: Noon – 8pm, closed Mondays)
www.sketchbookproject.com
 
Sketchbook Project Tour
 
June 10-12, 2011
Form/Space Atelier
Seattle, WA
www.formspaceatelier.com
 
June 16-18, 2011
Madrone Studios
San Francisco, CA
www.madronestudios.com
 
July 14-17, 2011
Hyde Park Art Center
Chicago, IL
www.hydeparkart.org
 
July 29-31, 2011
Full Sail University
Winter Park, FL
www.fullsail.edu/gallery

Illustration: On the Swing / Book Cover / Italo Calvino

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 20/09/2010

IC_Baron na drevesu_Jacket_FrameThis stitched embroidery, titled as On the Swing (2010), is a part of a larger illustration made for book The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante) written by the Italian author Italo Calvino. The author creates a fantasy world immersed in history, philosophy and politics at the time of Voltaire. Described as conte philosophique and a metaphor for independence, the book tells us the adventures of a boy called Cosimo who, as next in line for the title of Baron, resists the authority of his parents when 12 years old – he refuses to eat a dinner of snails prepared by his sadistic sister Batista and rejects his comfortable aristocratic childhood by climbing up a tree adjacent to the dining room. He spends the rest of his life inhabitating an arboreal kingdom. The story is narrated by his younger brother Biagio. Set in Liguria near the French Riviera, the two brothers belong to the 18th century nobility, whose family estate is located in the vast forest landscape of Ombrosa. Cosimo discovers that the more he distances himself from others in order to see them from a new point of view, the more he is able to help the society. His love for a young woman named Viola, the daughter of the Marquis next door, in feud with the Cosimo’s family, changes the course of the lives of everyone: Cosimo, Viola, Biagio, and the community of Ombrosa.

The cover illustration – which combines mixed media by collaging photography, distressed paper and historical textures, print-making and outlined stitching – reflects the direct meaning of the book and its setting. It depicts the most memorable scene in which Viola, while sitting on her swing holding an apple, is taken by surprise at her first vision of the sudden appearance of Cosimo on the tree. She drops the apple and her shoe. The swing is set near the wall that physically divides the two estates, here reinforced by the stripe across the cover, and surrounded by the white magnolia, mulberry and oak trees. The scene is further set against the silhouette of the veduta of Ombrosa. The use of the two 18-century paintings by Watteau and Fragonard as a source for outlining the characters’ sihouettes using the traditional craft of stitching has two purposes: on the one hand, it is intended to reinforce the historical setting through the traditional forms (the tradition of the nobility), while, on the other hand, by subverting the painting’s context through the use of stitching and placing it into a different context, the idea of creating a new meaning is evoked showing the ‘new’ world (rebellious child breaking from the tradition).Marquisa on the Swing

France Prešeren’s New Outfit Installation / May 2010

Posted in Craft, Projects by andrejabrulc on 30/05/2010
Baptism at the River Savica

Baptism at the River Savica

Art installation in process

The monument dedicated to the most important Slovene poet, France Prešeren (1800-49), which stands in the central square of Ljubljana, was transformed for a day (21 May 2010) during the Fabula Festival, the central event of Ljubljana time as UNESCO World Book Capital 2010.  This public art installation gave the poet a new outfit covered in hand-made lettering from stanzas of his longest work in verse, Baptism at the River Savica.

I was very pleased with the final outcome of the work, which took almost a month to complete. Also, when finally installed, I was especially relieved to see that the tunic fitted the poet as if made-to-measure, when in reality I had to work with the tailor Lidija Kešnar around the measurements I made from a photograph.

Passers-by

And the hard work indeed paid off. The project was received very well by passers-by – and many of them took out their cameras! I was especially pleased with the comment by somebody from the City Museum who shared his appreciation for the project by saying that the installation was “more than culture” and that the city of Ljubljana needed projects like this.

Above all, I was particularly pleased that the media was interested in covering the project on TV Slovenia 1 as well as in print and online. For a full report of the project, photos and video of the installation showing my interview with the journalist Živa Rogelj see  RTV Slovenia, who said that “Prešeren was stoically coping with the adornment, while two other statues nearby were observing this moment in silence”.

Young typo enthusiasts, Živa and Luka

A report by the Slovene Press Agency was published in the national newspaper Dnevnik among others. Also, A.H. wrote in an article titled “Prešeren v novi preobleki” published in the national newspaper Dnevnik (22 May 2010) that Prešeren’s longest work in verse, Baptism at the River Savica, had received “a form as never seen before” and that “the project gave Ljubljana a new artistic inspiration”.

The tunic was only displayed for a day, but it is hoped that there will be other opportunities to show it for a longer period, or even that a more permanent place of display can be found.

Art installation for a day in all weather conditions

Many many thanks to the organiser, Študentska založba, who supported my project idea. A special thanks to my family for their moral support during the month and particularly to my mum who helped me with the making of the letters. And finally, thanks to the tough guys, Marko Murč and Primož Kuharič of Študentska založba, who helped me to install the new outfit, very heavy in weight indeed.

Installation team

More installation photos on Flick.

Press Release: France Prešeren’s New Outfit / May 2010

Posted in Craft, Projects by andrejabrulc on 20/05/2010

UNESCO World Book Capital 2010: France Prešeren’s New Outfit (Baptism at the River Savica)

Location: Prešeren Square, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Date and time: Friday, 21 May, from 8 am – 23 pm

Summary

The monument dedicated to the most important Slovene poet, France Prešeren (1800-49), which stands in the central square of Ljubljana, will be transformed for a day during the Fabula Festival, the central event of Ljubljana’s time as UNESCO World Book Capital 2010. A public art installation, giving Prešeren a new outfit covered in hand-made lettering from stanzas of the poet’s longest work in verse, Baptism at the River Savica, will be realised by the designer and illustrator Andreja Brulc.

Concept

The sculpture of the poet will be draped in a unique black tunic (pallerina), which is stylistically reminiscent of the cloaks fashionable during the time of the poet. The tunic will have a larger collar made out of a fine velvet, which will overhang the poet’s shoulders and will be tightened around the neck with a large bow. The tunic will then be divided into two parts at the back of the lower part of his legs and will continue in a billowing manner down each side of the pedestal to the first step of the monument. The statue is about 3 metres tall, with an additional 2 metres for the pedestal.

The selection of the text will be from the most important passages from the poem, and in particular those that are part of the school curriculum. The emphasis is especially on the connection of two vital speeches between Črtomir and Bogomila, the main protagonists of the poem. The purpose of the selection, and the execution of the whole design, is to conceptually connect the iconic status of the public monument to the work produced by the poet himself and the private voices of the speakers in the poem.

The text, executed in an experimental typographical manner, will run with the male voice on one side and the female voice on the other side of the poet’s sculptural body. The text begins at the same height as the book that the poet is holding, and this gives the impression of the letters falling from the pages. The overall design and experimental letter forms give a strong sense of the text travelling, coming closer and further away, and in this way attract the attention of readers, inviting them to read the poem.

Technique and material

The principal technique for transferring the text on the cloth is stenciling. The visual impact of the experimental typography is enhanced by the combination in the use of traditional techniques, such as sewing and stitching, knitting and crocheting, and patchwork letters made from textiles.

For more photos see on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/39890289@N05/sets/72157623978334159/

Photos of the tunic installed on the monument still to come.

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