At the end of year 1 we received a project on which to work on during our summer break, named BIOGRAPHIES. Each one of us was assigned a different name chosen from a range of historical figures whom everyone knew of, such as Marie Antoinette, Alexander the Great and Al Capone, and some, like Tandeusz Kantor and Mikhail Bulgakov, whom few or none of us had heard of before. The tutors chose each assignment on the idea that we have something in common with that specific person, either in our artwork, our names, background or personalities.
I was assigned Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov, famous for writing the novel Master and Margarita. We had that book in our summer reading list last year and I showed up to an illustrator trip to Abergavenny reading it, which caught Anna Bushan’s eye, and then Amelia Johnstone’s as well and soon they were all talking about me reading Master and Margarita.
While I was back home I mostly did research. It’s what I started off with and soon ended up realising it was going to be really hard to find any good books about him. After a long search and lots of hours online, looking at biographical information, I finally found a biography in the form of a book from the 80’s in a used/antique book store in one of the shadier parts of town. My mom had to use some help from booksellers she’s worked with who found several of Bulgakov’s books which are no longer being sold anywhere, even used/antique bookshops.
In the end reading those books was quite interesting and pleasant. His style struck me as fluent, sarcastic in places, tragi-comedic in others, strangely contemporary and in the end that all blends into a series of absolute page-turners.
The final outcome for this project was supposed to be a handmade, hand-bound book of 24 to 32 pages. The book was to be a visual biography. We simply had to let the images speak for themselves. In order to do it properly I started developing a sketchbook.