Andreja Brulc's Blog

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! 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. Also, 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.

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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 adopted as my own. It seems to be far too close to what I 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 the 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 the 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, even though 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 massive 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 the political left-right spectrum. I don’t think so! It would be worse than REMAIN! EXCLAMATION MARK.

It is also 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 the UK to ‘milk the system’, yet failing to reflect – if one believes academics, which I usually 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 a 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 of which politicians and media often use 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, whether we stay or leave! The 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 about our customer services, for instance. How many times did I curse ‘that person’ on the other side of the line from abroad as I was not able to work out what they were saying. When I was dying to sort out my credit card abuse. When I was being disconnected from the BT telephone line and internet for 10 days. Or when I was trying to fix the delivery for the 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 were 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, while 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 as to whether “to vote, or not to vote: that is the question.” I initially thought that the matter on the future of the UK was down to the natives. But, as 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. 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 being able to see similarities with propaganda images – or, more accurately, as pointed out, a parallel to the photos of the Nazi’s Final Solution, as shown in the 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 the 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 – are happy to bomb! 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 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 rise to a position in which he is given the power to manipulate the masses through images and speech in such a short 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 to dig the Loibl Pass, a 1570 m long tunnel under the Alps between Slovenia and Austria that was ordered by the command of Austrian SS Friedrich Rainer 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 to the labour shortage throughout Europe during WWII for war infrastructure is not rocket Grandfather_Apprenticeshipscience! He was born on 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 the building industry (Dec 1929).

My grandfather managed to escape and joined the resistance to fight the war against the Nazis! I knew about his involvement with partisans while he was still alive. But he never really liked to talk about what had really happened in the war when I asked him questions for my homework – he preferred to reply by singing the Yugoslav version of the Internationale, as he loved singing 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.

I had no idea of his reality of ‘the digging job’ at the Loibl Pass until Thursday morning! I was told 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 practised 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 the 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 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 91st birthday accompanied by his brother.

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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 being able to disguise his disappointment exceptionally well as he would always smile, I knew then that he felt very sad from the inside as he was unable 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 desire towards the 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 an excellent 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 the hope that peace you fought for is preserved for posterity. For love rather than hate!

Twiddle Muff: Knitting for Dementia

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

Have you ever heard of twiddle muffs? 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 twiddle muff 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.

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What are Twiddle Muffs?

Twiddle muffs, known by some as twiddle mitts, were first created by Margaret Light [The Guardian]. Margaret developed them for her grandmother, Lily, who, as she grew older and her eyesight began to deteriorate, could no longer be as creative and productive with her hands as she had been all her life. “The Twiddle Muff satisfied her need to keep her hands warm and busy,” Margaret says. “She enjoyed it so much that it was on her lap constantly.” [Best Alzheimer’s Products]

According to Bradford Teaching Hospital (the link has the pattern & instructions), twiddle muffs 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 say that people with dementia “often have restless hands and like to have something to keep their hands occupied.” The twiddle muff “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’.”

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Dedication of my Twiddlemuff

To me, it is impossible to imagine all the harrowing emotions charged, both, from the perspective of the diagnosed patient seeing one’s own inner decay as the illness progresses and from the perspective of his or her family. I have recently watched Julianne Moore’s outstanding performance in Still Alice, playing the role of a linguistics 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 affected by his father’s Alzheimer’s, who was given full care at home with all LTC from the onset of the diagnosis to his recent death. I, therefore, thought I would dedicate my twiddle muff in the memory of my friend’s father. I only wished I had known about these twiddle muffs earlier!

twiddlemuffe_before decorationThe Story in the Making of my Twiddle Muff

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 twiddle muff needed to express all 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 the 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 twiddle muff 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! 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 twiddle muff! Of course, I shall omit my friend’s dad’s story. R.I.P.

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Illustration: Birthday Party Invite

Posted in Illustrations, Projects by andrejabrulc on 17/10/2014

The illustration below was made for an invite to the 50th Birthday party. The concept for the design was inspired by the party’s venue – The Russet – and its surroundings. The venue – in turn, inspired by the apple orchard planted by the Three Musketeers on Hackney Downs, London – also uses an Egremont Russet, the classic British apple, as its logo. Furthermore, its entrance is made in the shape of an arch resembling the railway arch that leads one through the park to the venue. In the illustration, there are dancing figures under the arch, with the celebrant being thrown into the air while singing along to the tunes of musical notes! The celebrant’s daughter helped me to draw the local map placed into the silhouette of a big Egremont Russet, while a little maggot is shouting a big RSVP.

It’s a masterpiece. I am thrilled beyond words.
– Zosia

Zosia_Artworkx

 

MEXICO Project: World Turtle Day & La Ventanilla on the Oaxaca Coast

Posted in MEXICO by andrejabrulc on 24/05/2014

Today is World Turtle Day (23 May). The purpose of this fun day, sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, is, on the one hand, to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises worldwide, while, on the other hand, to encourage human action to help them survive and thrive in the natural habitat. The international event brought back my fond memories of the sea turtles in La Ventanilla on the Oaxaca Coast in Mexico – one of the two breeding grounds of a species of this article, Olive Ridley turtle (la tortuga golfina). So I thought I would share some photographs, while taking the opportunity to recommend a visit if travelling nearby, as the experience of the place is unforgettable. If you have seen the animated film A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures (2010) – an enchanting story of a sea turtle called Sammy who, hatched on the Oaxaca Coast, falls for his childhood sweetheart called Shelly – then you know what I am talking about: you unconditionally fall in love with them! This article is dedicated to the community of La Ventanilla for its passion in preserving the sea turtles in their natural eco-system and to my niece and nephew (‘my turtle’ on my hand was released with their names in the photo below) with whom I saw the animated film in a cinema and we absolutely loved it!

Hand

La Playa Ventanilla

La Ventanilla [‘little window’ named after a high rocky peak with a small opening] is a small village, located on the unspoiled and laid-back Costa Chica in the State of Oaxaca, some 2.5km west of Mazunte or 12.5km west of Puerto Ángel. The village consists of a long, unbroken stretch of undeveloped white sand beach and a lagoon (the estuary of the Tonameca River) wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre del Sur. Up until the mid 1990s, the area was a mere coconut plantation with three Zapotec families living there – the electricity arrived only in 1999, when, after the Hurricane Pauline in Oct 1997, more families began to move into the area to build a small close-knit community. Now, the whole protected biosphere area covers around 230 000 sq meters.

La Ventanilla

Past & Present: The story of Olive Ridley turtle

Like Mazunte, which was the centre of sea turtle hunting (with a slaughterhouse) in Mexico by the 1970s and is now the country’s premier turtle research centre (Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga), La Ventanilla had to shift its focus on the environment, reforestation and ecotourism due to a loss of main source of income after an absolute ban on turtle meat and eggs had been enforced in 1990 as the number of sea turtle nests had drastically dropped since 1970s. With the new perception of the turtles seen as the species to be protected, the community was encouraged to create a mini-ecological reserve and tourist attraction. The village is, therefore, best known for a successful conservation, particularly of the Olive Ridley turtle, and for an ecotourism co-operative – Servicios Ecoturísticos La Ventanilla – run by about 25 Zapotec families, who are extremely dedicated to preserving the ecology of both the beach and the lagoon. Unfortunately, when I visited the village in Nov 2012, the area was in a fairly bad state due to another devastating hurricane in June 2012, Hurricane Carlotta, but the community, who owns the land and runs the eco-preservation program, was, according to my biologist guide, in a good spirit as the inhabitants were convinced that their village, with its wild-life surroundings, can soon thrive just like it did before the hurricane.

Releasing an Olive Ridley turtle: The story of ‘my turtle’

The village is most popular for canoe trips on a mangrove-fringed lagoon, where one can admire diverse flora and fauna: among others two varieties of mangroves (red and white), many species of birds and most notably endangered river crocodiles (around 1000 in the area).

But the most memorable experience, in my opinion, is the releasing of the sea turtle hatchlings into the Ocean at sunset, as portrayed through the photos in this post. According to the guide, one can also take part in night patrols, led by the community’s volunteer workers, in order to see adult female turtles laying their eggs in nests [i.e. the mass nesting phenomenon that occurs only with this species known as arribadas] and helping them to collect the eggs. The nesting season usually begins in May and lasts for several months – during the peak of this activity, thousands of sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs along here. They come in large numbers during the nighttime for 2–3 evenings after a full moon. They scoop out holes in the sand circa 1.2 m deep, deposit their eggs and cover them up. The volunteers protect these turtles from natural predators as well as human poachers. After the eggs are laid and mother turtles return to sea, the volunteers gather the eggs in order to rebury them in a safe nest (a gated-off strip of sand), which is closely monitored with the date and guarded until the turtles are hatched. After 45 days, the nests are dug up and hatchling turtles pop out, which are then collected in a bucket. Visitors who happen to be around on a hatching day, like I was, bring the baby turtles, weighing barely between 12 and 23.3 g, to the high tide line and release them onto the sand, so that the baby turtles slowly find their way back into the strong and tough wave of the Ocean. The whole village is involved in this project – the adults’ passion for preservation of the Olive Ridley turtle is passed on to their children, who also join in the fun. Considering that, according to the guide, only 1%–3% of all hatchlings will reach reproductive age (around 15 years of age), the great dedication and empowerment displayed by the community to protect the eggs is a fabulous way to remember La Ventanilla on the World Turtle Day.

Turtle_1Turtle_2Turtle_3Turtle_4Turtle_5Turtle_6Turtle_7

La Playa Escobilla

The second and main breeding ground (3–4 km long) for the Olive Ridley turtle in Mexico is La Playa Escobilla, located very close to La Ventanilla. In order to protect the turtles, the beach is guarded by the national army carrying M-16’s, scientists and enthusiastic volunteers during the nesting season to prevent looters and poachers from stealing eggs and is off-limits to tourists. However, during this season (July to September) visitors can join overnight trips to observe the turtles while they heave themselves onshore to lay their eggs. The trips also help the local community and must be arranged through the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga in Mazunte.

Historically, there were several arribadas in Mexico, but only the two mentioned above now remain, as the species is constantly decreasing – according to Beaubien’s article, the species is considered ‘endangered’ by the US National Marine Fisheries Service, while Mexican sources say that the turtles’ population has rebounded significantly. Turtle poaching by humans (not locals) is still going on despite the government’s total ban. While back in Oaxaca after the trip, much to my horror I was offered 6 turtle eggs for the price of $40 Mexican pesos (circa £2 sterlling). The eggs are not only valued for food, but many Mexicans still believe that the eggs are a powerful aphrodisiac.

To get an idea of the breeding ground on La Playa Escobilla, see the video below.

Sources

Beaubien, Jason. 2009. “Endangered Sea Turtles Return To Mexico’s Beaches.” NPR. 16 Oct. Article [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Editorial. “Turtles in Mazunte.” Exploring Oaxaca. Article [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Map of the Oaxaca Beaches and how to get to La Ventanilla, see ‘Playa Ventanilla’. Link [Accessed 20 May 2014].

NOAA. 2013. “Olive Ridley Turtle.” NOAA. Article [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Quintero, Melinda. 2007. “Puerto Escondido’s Experiment in Sustainable Tourism.” Frommer’s. Article [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Turtles of the Oaxaca Coast, see ‘Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga’ in Mazunte. Link. [Accessed 20 May 2014].

The largest sanctuary of Olive Ridley turtles is Playa La Escobilla, very close to La Ventanilla, see Wikipedia and Oaxaca Mio [Accessed 20 May 2014].

Illustration: The Nonexistent Knight / Book Cover / Italo Calvino

Posted in Books, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 30/03/2014

IC_neobstojeci vitez_jacketThis paper cut-out illustration was made for the book cover of the Slovene translation of The Nonexistent Knight (Il cavaliere inesistente), written by the Italian author Italo Calvino (1959) and published by Beletrina (2014). The novel – together with The Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato) (1952) and The Baron in the Trees (Il barone rampante) (1957) – forms a ‘heraldic trilogy’ titled as Our Ancestors (I nostri antenati) (1960). The Nonexistent Knight is an allegorical fantasy novel – the theme explores the questions of identity, integration with society, and virtues through the adventures of a medieval knight called Agilulf.

The source for the plot

The plot of the narrative is strengthened by the material drawn from the medieval literary cycle known as the Matter of France. The cycle developed from the Old French chansons de geste [‘songs of heroic deeds’] – a medieval narrative, a type of epic poetry that flourished between the 11th and 15th centuries and that celebrated the legendary heroic deeds, such as The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland). The Song of Roland is the oldest surviving major work of French literature (Oxford manuscript, mid 12 century), which, together with the Spanish Poem of the Cid (Cantar de Mio Cid) (1195–1207), represents the most outstanding example of the chanson de geste. The cycle, also called the Carolingian cycle, is a body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France during the time of Charlemagne – a Christian King of France (from 768) and the first Holy Roman Emperor (800–814) – and his twelve fictional paladins (12 Peers). The cycle praises their ‘heroic deeds’ accomplished through various military campaigns against the Moorish invasion of the Christian Carolingian Empire from the Muslim Spain (Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus), particularly recalling historical events such as the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778) in the buffer zone of Marca Hispanica. The plot also references the Renaissance epic poem of Ludovico Ariosto‘s Orlando Furioso (1516).

IC_neobstojeci vitez

The theme of the narrative

The story, which relativises different ways of existence in the world through a network of intertextual citations and inimitable wit, is set into the imaginary Middle Ages, but the imaginary world is not far from the reality of modern man. Agilulf is one of the twelve paladins in the military service of Charlemagne out of his ‘goodwill and faith for the holy cause’. As a knight, he exemplifies virtues of chivalry, piety and faithfulness through his heroic deeds – he thus serves as a role model to those (e.g. Rambaldo) who aspire to knighthood and as an object of envy to those paladins unable to surpass his excellence. The narrative represents him as a righteous, perfectionist, faithful and pious knight – his only problem is that he exists as an empty suit of white armour. Inside his empty armour, which is always shiny and immaculate on the outside as seen by the others, is an echoing voice that reverberates through the metal. But the knight cannot exist without his armour (i.e. his identity) – if he removes the armour, he is no longer a paladin, while the other knights can remove their armour, because, in fact, they are not ‘true’ paladins. Towards the end of the story, in order to destroy Agilulfo, the other paladins deny his deeds – unable to fight the forced oblivion, Agilulfo, therefore, vanishes leaving only his armour. After he vanishes, his shiny armour, now appropriated by Ramboldo, turns to be opaque and dirty. His servant Gurdulù, on the other hand, is a complete contrast to his master. He does exist, but he is unaware of his existence – his identity, depicted in most bizarre forms and in chaotic situations, is overgrown with everything that he sees, feels and experiences from the outside world.

The identity of Agilulfo, therefore, exists only as the fulfilment of the rules and protocols of knighthood. It has been argued that such a theme set in an imaginary medieval world is exploited as a metaphor that is strongly connected to modern conditions – according to Margareth Hagen, Agilulf has been described as “the symbol of the ‘robotized’ man, who performs bureaucratic acts with near-absolute unconsciousness” [‘La seduzione del cavaliere inesistente’, in Romansk Forum 2002, 16:875–885]. The romance satirises Agilulf as the ideal man yet nonexistent – as the reader progresses through the story, one realises that most of the story is being made up by Sister Theodora, who, as a nun, is writing the story and drawing the map of the knight’s adventures as her own penance tucked away in a monastery. In the end, she understands that such a perfect knight could only exist in one’s imagination.

Making of the illustration

My illustration concentrates on two elements only: the knight and the imaginary landscape. My main source of inspiration, bearing in mind the adventures of the knight in the landscape, was drawn on the famous Italian medieval wall painting in Sienna – a huge fresco of the equestrian Portrait of Guidoricco da Fogliano, painted by Simone Martini in 1330 in the Sala del Mappamondo of the Palazzo Pubblico, as part of the fresco cycle called ‘Castelli’ commemorating the castles conquered by the Republic of Sienna. While reading Calvino, I could not resist but create an imaginary parallel of his knight to Martini’s condottiere. The fresco of this professional military leader, shown in profile in order to emphasise ‘the ideal image’ of the sitter as was the norm in Italian portraiture at the time, celebrates his conquest of the castles of Montemassi and Sassoforte in 1328 in the service of the commune.

Simone Martini_Guidaricco de Foliagno

The description of Agilulf’s armour – anachronistic to the time of Charlemagne as the white armour, a form of plate armour, was fully developed only by 1420 and was popular among the late Medieval and Renaissance knights – constantly recurs throughout the narrative as soon as the knight comes on the scene. I used an old engraving showing a Renaissance knight on horse, which perfectly fits with the description. Just like the condottiere, Agilulf is a well-composed perfect knight of excellence strolling calmly through the landscape, full of self-confidence and with no obstructions from the outside world. The most outstanding detail of his armour that impressed me most is the plume on top of his helmet described as: ‘the plume made of feathers, from who knows which Oriental rooster, which changes to all colours of the rainbow’! Whether or not one would read this statement as politically incorrect, I took it literally. But rather than making the plume turn into 7 colours of the rainbow, I turned the top of the knight’s lance into the flag of typography – the author and title – using the font Memoriam that flamboyantly emphasises the idea of the flag as if moving in the wind and making some letters change into the 7 colours of the rainbow.

Granada_Book of Navigation_Piri Reis_1521-1525With regard to the imaginary landscape, it seems obvious that the background colour of the landscape, and the shapes of hills and architecture, in my illustration resemble the stylised treatment of the landscape in the Sienese fresco. But my visual thinking developed further from the fresco that shows the landscape from the frontal view. In order to emphasise the map drawing of Sister Theodora, I imagined that the landscape must be seen from the bird’s-eye view – a flat world as depicted in the mappa mundi of the Middle Ages. My inspiration for the landscape topography, therefore, in many ways resembles the detail of Granada, a fragment from the first pre-modern world map of 1513, compiled by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis and published in his Book of Navigation (Kitab-ı Bahriye) (1521–25).

However, at this point of the process, I remembered my old visual diary from the trip to Rajasthan (India) in 2004 and various doodles of the landscape of Jaipur, topped with hill forts and walls marked by battlements (a parapet with crenellation) (photos below). So, instead of placing the knight in a detailed but imaginary landscape of medieval Europe, the concertina with a paper cut-out silhouette of the Jaipur hills became the final source for my illustration showing the bare but imaginary landscape – an ideal setting for the perfect but nonexistent knight. It is, however, likely that Martini’s treatment of landscape subconsciously sprang to mind during my adventures in Rajasthan!

Indian Sketchbook_Jaipur Forts_2004

015_Jaigarh_View of Jaipur hills

013_Amber Fort_Surrounding Hills

020_Jaigarh_View of Jaipur hills

 

Brand identity: Harmonika servis – Peter Galjot

Posted in Identities, Marketing material by andrejabrulc on 01/03/2014

HS_Business cardI created a brand identity – applied to stationery, marketing campaign and display material, as well as to a bilingual website – that helped to redefine the new look for a small business called Harmonka servis, based on the new premises in Mengeš, Slovenia. As the name suggests, the company repairs all types of accordions (piano, chromatic and diatonic) used for popular, folk and classical/jazzy music. It particularly specialises in Pigini and Hohner accordions. The company was founded in 1995 for servicing the world-renowned accordions, known under the Zupan trademark. The service team consists of two great guys: Peter Galjot (the head of the company) and Marjan Koderman (a professional tuner). The company is now independent of the Zupan company, hence their need for my help in sorting out their new image.

HS_Billboard_1

We decided that the new image for the company should bring together the traditional and modern worlds, in order to appeal to the diversity of clients, both from the existing list of local and international clients while at the same time attracting the new ones – hence a mixture of nostalgic and contemporary approaches.

Below is a small selection of photographs I took of the guys hard at work. The final selection of images for the company’s new website is bound to be different to my selection as the client is always right, but this post is particularly focused on the detail of accordions – as the photos remind me of letters on ‘good old’ typewriters.

PS: The company finally got a new image on the web, too, in spring 2015 – have a look here if you happen to have landed on this page. I believe the image is prominently different to other competitive businesses in this highly specialised field both nationally and internationally.

Harmonika Servis

Beletrina book cover designs / Feb & Dec 2013 & February 2014

Posted in Books by andrejabrulc on 28/02/2014

Typographic Project: Edible Valentine Type: Love & Kisses

Posted in MEXICO, Projects by andrejabrulc on 28/02/2014

This series of typographic cookies was inspired by my research on Mexican pan dulce – the idea is based on a particular variety of pan dulce [‘sweet bread’] called besos [‘kisses’], which are especially popular in Mexico for Valentine’s Day.

Andreja Brulc_besos

The idea was then expanded further into a typographic feast in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Slovene, Italian, German) using the words ‘kisses’ and ‘love’ as the basis for this project (the final result is the last image below). Furthermore, my project of edible type coincided with the Valentine theme set out to celebrate the first anniversary of Type Tasting led by Sarah Hyndman of With Relish – for Type Tasting’s review of my project click here.

Andreja Brulc_kisses

Recipes

4 different kinds of recipes were used for these cookies:

Besos from Tennie CakesBesos are not cookies per se, but pan dulce, a sort of sweet scorn-like breads.

Shortbread from BBCShortbread was shaped into letters by hand. Some letters were further dipped into a melting chocolate to give some colour to the type and sprinkled with icing sugar and chopped up hazelnuts. The recipe for these world’s famous biscuits, which originated in Scotland, is exceptionally good – in my opinion, it is in a high competition with the famous brand, Walkers Shortbread. For European readers – caster sugar, known in the States as ‘superfine’ sugar, is a British term for sugar with small grains that are between granulated and icing sugar. If you cannot find caster sugar, use ordinary white sugar rather than icing sugar. Your food mixer will do the rest!

Andreja Brulc_love_2

Jam-filled butter biscuits from BBC – A classic British recipe for Jammie Dodgers and a perfect one to sandwich ‘red’ jam between the two hearts. Again, my variation of the recipe came out to be more ‘Central European’ in appearance to make the type more diverse when assembled! Traditionally, Jammie Dodgers have a shape (e.g. heart) cut out on the top layer so that the jam is visible through it like in the BBC recipe, but, instead, I decided to make a template of the heart and lettering, placed on the top layer and then sprinkled in icing sugar.

Andreja Brulc_Valentine cookies_4

Andreja Brulc_love_3

Chocolate truffles from BBC – Very simple but incredibly delicious truffles – I had to keep them away from many long fingers before I managed to finish with photographing the project! It is worth using good quality chocolate (70%). For the decoration, the truffles were sprinkled with unsweetened cocoa powder, chopped up hazelnuts and coconut powder.

Andreja Brulc_truffles

The making of edible Valentine type

The cookies were either shaped into type before they were baked, but in most cases they were assembled into type after the baking and then photographed.

Andreja Brulc_poljubAndreja Brulc_ljubezenAndreja Brulc_amorWhen all letters were finally assembled in Photoshop into two words in 5 languages, the final outcome was a very satisfying typographic Valentine feast that fed my family for a few days!

Andreja Brulc_Valentine card

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