vortex / cover & illustrations

Before the academic year was over I was working on an important side-project. The second book by author Vera Petrova called Vortex, about to come out.

After the success of her first book 6 years ago she wished to collaborate once more to create a second boutique publication, this time with illustrated chapters rather than just a cover. Saying I was excited would be an understatement.

What happened was quite interesting – Vera had had a look through all of my work online and liked several pieces which she thought would fit the esthetic she imagined for her book. I suggested making new work in accordance but she was set on several sketchbook pieces from the beginning days of my final year project ‘Cosmic Genesis’. As they were no longer of any importance to the outcome of the project, I felt they would fit well for the occasion. Thus they became chapter illustrations.

The cover artwork was chosen in a similar manner. Vera wanted her second book to carry on the layout of her first book (‘Instead of a Book’) – a short but wide image which flows from the back cover to the front cover as one long piece. A very fitting image I had done was, again from ‘Cosmic Genesis’, the 3.3m-long animation concept. She felt it was illustrative of her entire idea behind ‘Vortex’ so she had me send it over to her visual editor (Rumen Dimitranov), who shortened it wonderfully so it can fit the format without losing meaning.

You can see the finished cover below, as well as some of the illustrations inside.

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Cosmic genesis / artist statement

Everything about our lives and our very existence depends on the milestones of the Cosmic Genesis – the points in the history of the universe since the beginning of time which made life on this planet possible. Each one of those points, the formation of the Earth, the shaping of the Solar System, the origin of the Milky Way, has been crucial and yet has happened due to an ever-continuing ripple (or butterfly) effect. As if reflected in our own scale of being, each thought, decision, action, no matter how seemingly insignificant has the potential to cause unimaginable changes in this world we think is set in stone. On the contrary, it is alive, breathing, growing, evolving, moulded by the forces which influence it, whether that refers to meteorites, the shifting of tectonic plates, natural phenomena or the negligent behaviour of a single one of the Earth’s myriad of species.

Rooted in mythology and stemming from scientific discovery, this project’s aim is to bring the viewer’s attention to a higher perspective and a process of self-reflection, both figurative and literal. Through the observation of this chain of creation, the viewer’s mind is stripped of superficial concerns which are replaced by a sense of understanding and elevated perception. Ultimately I wish to evoke empathy towards our home planet and an awareness of the choices we make, which could sustain or exhaust it.

final pieces

After some hard thinking and work I finally finished them. These are the pieces I’ve chosen to put in the exhibition.

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Due to unforseen technical difficulties I’ve lost some of the scans and these are the only ones I managed to recover.

All of them are painted with acrylic onto MDF covered in black acrylic. It felt amazing to be able to finally paint, rather than plan and do technical things like scanning, editing and blogging.

These will be suspended so they hang at eye-level, arranged so they form the backwards narrative of the creation of our universe.

Finally painting

finally finally finally!!!

I started painting my final pieces, after a wait that just felt like a small eternity. Annoyingly enough, I had to first prime the boards, so I can paint them without damaging the wood – that was resolved by a quick solution of watered down PVA from a massive tube in the studio. Next up was the black base – now that was tricky because I was running very low on black acrylic and I didn’t have money for supplies at the time. I had to turn to my friend in Fine Art, Arthur Jarvis, whose work pretty much focuses on dark and sticky substances and for it he uses a lot of black paint. Fortunately he had some left, which I thought would run out quite quickly but miraculously covered all the boards and there was even some left to spare.

After having experimented with wet on wet painting I started thinking of how to do it well with acrylic. The process of making the Space piece and the Cosmic Tree piece was the most satisfying experience – watching mesmerised as the paint flows through the watery layer, plays, settles, moves, swirls and makes unexpected shapes and mixtures. Such things cannot be achieved by the human hand but only induced by it and I liked having that idea add to my work.

final idea / development

After Amelia’s comment on the second opening night of WITHIN / WITHOUT, I decided I had to make some changes.

Instead of a single long piece, I chose to go for the easier option and go with separate images for the separate pages. I’d been doing concept drawings in my sketchbook and it only made sense for each one to just be on a separate piece of paper, but still, adamant that they should be suspended on strings, rather than just hung on a wall.

Quite a few things changed throughout the course of this project. From illustrating different Creation myths in order to point out similarities to making an animation uniting all their main elements, to a long continuous piece hinting at a multiverse… I have finally come to a final decision.

My plan is to create an installation of the timeline of our universe but backwards. First we observe what is now, the Earth suspended in space, and then we start going further and further backwards until we reach the point of the Big Bang, the point of primal genesis, the point beyond which we can’t tell what was. Then I will employ the multiverse bubble theory and we will move out of the bubble our universe’s timeline is contained within, to the space where all the numerous bubbles float about, each one containing the possibility of a universe within it… they hang freely until they lead to another freely hanging piece, the last bit of the installation, a mirror. Next to it a short poem tying everything together and inspiring the awareness, self-consciousness and empathy we al must feel towards our world, our planet, our home, and all the beings inhabiting it alongside us.

It is our world, our choices and our responsibility.

 

pieces from within / without

And here are the final pieces from the Bristol show.

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UNVEIL‘ is about entering the state of dreaming, becoming your astral self, unveiling the door to that realm of infinite possibility of which the moon is a guardian.

EXPLORE‘ is a scene from one of my vivd dreams where the sun was rising over the seaside (the exact moment when the dark of night and the daylight fight for dominion over the dome of the sky) its light gently washing over the massive planet and the mirror-like sea. Even though there were no waves, the surf board moved on its own with my intention, much like everything else happens in dreams.

ENCOUNTER‘ is about the person I kept meeting in different scenarios in a number of the dreams (if not all) which inspired this collection of artworks. The geometric forest is a concept I came up with many years ago in a painting i was never pleased with, and now seemed like a good time to revisit it and give it new life.

SEE‘ is the attempt to visualise a bit of a dream where that person’s eyes were there, real, on his face, but they also somehow had the scale and gravity of immense planets, and at the same time they had the spiral pull of galaxies, it felt like I was being pulled in and I could float about and observe them from a distance one could fully observe a planet or a galaxy, while I was fully aware that I was looking into a pair of eyes right in front of me. A very surreal and overwhelming part of the dream but completely enthralling and mesmerising.

TOUCH‘ refers to the idea that in order to lucid dream, the first challenge (or the first gate of dreaming) is to be able to look at your hands during a dream. It also refers to the strange sensation of touching and experiencing the texture and weight, pull or push, of objects in dreams – enhanced and very real but at the same time… not.

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Originally ‘See’ and ‘Touch’ were quarter the size of the rest but because of a misunderstanding at the printer’s I had prints of all of them in both sizes.

That being said, if you like what you see, get in touch and you just might get one of the original prints! :)

within / without

I’ve been going on and on about the show and now it’s gone and passed, and I haven’t said a word about it.

As you probably already know, it was in two parts – from the 31st of March to the 6th of April and from the 7th to the 13th of April. We tried to make sure the people whose work would be up at the same time related with one another in some way and we found out that a lot of our works do that anyway. As almost everyone was exhibiting work that was part of their final year project (for the degree show in May) it was an amazing opportunity to experience the curatorial side of the whole ‘Encounter’ challenge. We found more connections between our work than we previously thought and also received amazing feedback on and after both opening nights.

My own work had nothing to do with my final project, which was probably not the best of ideas, but I wanted to focus on something fresh in my mind – at the time I still wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do an animation for my final piece or a very long scroll-type painting on a large scale. Neither would have worked well in the gallery space at Paper Arts, so in the end I chose the subject which had ceaselessly been on my mind since the Christmas holidays – DREAMS.

I’d been having a series of very vivid and realistic dreams with massive amounts of detail stored in my memories. I wouldn’t say that they influenced my waking life but I’ve always thought that if someone is in your dream, you have to tell them. A number of people were in my dreams, one person in particular, who also appears in the final images, more so than the others – when I shared my dreams with him, it became a common conversation topic, and a really exciting one at that, which brought us closer and solidified our friendship, something I was immensely happy about. So, in a sense, they actually did influence my waking life.

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left to right: Jakeem Lee, Sara Christova (me), Jack Coles, Sophie Holbeche, Patrick Howells, Ayu Baker and Rhiannon Parnis. Unfortunately Heather Kirk couldn’t make it that evening. (photo by Emma Harry, additional edit by me)

Anyway, I shouldn’t go off on a tangent. The opening night for the second week was a lovely event which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got very positive feedback from our year tutor, Amelia, who believed I should go on with this for my final piece. That completely threw me off and I found myself wide-eyed and panicking, telling her it actually has nothing to do with my final piece (even though I’d already been trying to find a way to relate dreams with myths). Her suggestion was that I should find a way to do something similar… ‘because it really does work very well, good job!’

IMG_1191Even though I didn’t sell any of the prints I had on display (I was gutted when I realised I’d forgotten mount board and cellophane pockets) I am really happy to have had the chance to have my work seen by so many people. Hopefully it will have inspired some of them to truly explore and experience their dreams. :)

Concept drawings

I’d been doing a lot of concept pieces before and after the exhibition in Bristol and when I came to a final decision about the degree show and what I wanted my project to be, I redrew them all to what I imagined they could look like as finished pieces. In a sense, final concepts.

I was using watercolour, as I wanted a certain density as well as a transparency to the outcome. Knowing that the final images would have to be painted on MDF was a bit worrying because I knew they weren’t going to come out looking the same. I could visualise the changes to an extent but I still couldn’t fully anticipate the outcome.

 

 

Initial concepts 

 At first I wanted to represent the idea that the bubbleverse was in fact all the particles of the body of the primordial creator god. I ended up drawing this guy thinking, I shouldn’t limit myself to a strictly human body shape, even if it’s massively simplified. if it’s an entity of unfathomable dimensions then I can just let my mind go crazy and see what comes out.

I was especially pleased with the watercolours I was using at the time because I was getting bright and vivid colours, even when diluted. I had the thought to add the heart as a transparency to the great emotion which drives this being, out on display like an emblem but also a core part of the being itself.

Unfortunately I drew this being for no reason – I had already decided to discard the rainbow creator and replace it with the mirror creator. The whole idea that god created us in his image, that we are god and god is us… and most importantly- the self-reflection in the context of the universal genesis.

Further on, if I decide to continue my work on the project, I will definitely find a use for this concept drawing. Not just yet though.

studies

A few days ago I was playing around with neon markers and ended up making these two images…

frequencies has a lot to do with the dream-themed images I’ve been doing for the exhibition in Bristol (Within/Without). I like to think that when we dream all our frequencies are in tune so this is about them coming together slowly and all at once.

distortion comes from the same headspace but that has more to do with my final project for the degree show at the end of the year. In trying to figure out how to represent the god/consciousness that created our world I thought to experiment with the ‘blank TV screen’ visuals – that black and white distortion which is in constant motion that I once heard was in fact frequencies emitted from the Big Bang.

I’m planning to turn those into prints to have at the show, so if you like what you see, you know where to look :)