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! :)

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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. :)

Codex Seraphinianus

 

First published in 1981, Codex Seraphinianus is an illustrated encyclopaedia of an imaginary world, created by Italian artist Luigi Serafini.

915z6VMvHTL“Organized in eminently logical fashion, it describes a system of knowledge that—at least in its structure—mirrors our own: here are botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, engineering, anatomy, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and urban studies, each describing its object with a peculiarly recognizable exactitude.
Discover for yourself, reader, such wonders as the purple-caged citrus, the spider-web flower, the parfait protea, and the ladder weed. This is a world inhabited by weird half-sentient flora such as the tadpole tree and the meteor-fruit, by the lacy flying-saucer fish, the wheeled caterpillar-rumped horse, and the metamorphic bicranial rhino.
The planet’s sentient species are here as well—races like the Garbage-Dwellers, the Road-Traffic and the Yarn People, and the exotic Rodent-Skin Weaers… Nor can we forget to mention the Homo-Saurians, whose unusual sexual life-cycle is graphically described.
Merely to name these creatures is to confront the limits of our language.”

This is a short cover-jacket description of the journey about to be undertaken by the viewer* lucky enough to have obtained a copy of the Codex, which is rarely reprinted.

*Why viewer and not reader? The Codex, as scientific as it may look, is written in a systematised asemic language which Serafini invented. As the book is in essence an encyclopaedia , it only makes sense for it to be written in the language of the place it explores and thoroughly describes (even if that place is the product of one man’s fantastic imagination). Even though Serafini has stated himself that the text doesn’t mean anything, there have been many attempts to crack the code, the language of the book, but none have really been successful. However, the number system used has been deciphered (independently) by Allan C. Wechsler and Ivan Derzhanski (Bulgarian linguist, find his notes here), among others.

codex-seraphinianus-1When going through it we can tell that the Codex is divided into several parts beginning with a botanical chapter describing the world’s flora. From microorganisms and particles to larger increasingly-bizarre plants, trees and their processes and place within the environment. We begin to familiarise ourselves with the setting.

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The second part covers the fauna – surreal and oddly combined elements – animals and objects which create mind-twisting fusions and most of the time one ends up wondering how would this even work and what are the physical laws that allow for it…?

Imagination is pushing the edges of logical thinking and it’s pushing with the force of limitless potential. The sane mind has no chance against this book, a certain amount of madness is needed to appreciate such an astonishing piece of work.

 

The complexity increases with the third chapter where we explore the kingdom of unfamiliar bipedal creatures – they are a bit like what we would call centaurs but with the difference that these beings have humanoid legs and the upper body is… potentially anything you could think of.

The most captivating and mind-twisting part of the book is perhaps the fourth chapter – the one which covers what we can only imagine to be the scientific laws and physics which govern the world. Its almost abstract imagery brings science to the level of magic (all magic is just science we don’t understand yet) and truly makes you appreciate the complexity of this imaginary world. Imaginary worlds are governed by imaginary laws, but they are laws nonetheless.

Science leads to inventions so naturally, that is what the next chapter is all about. All the most bizarre machines, gadgets and technology.

The sixth chapter is devoted to the humanities. From biology to reproduction and sexuality, the diversity of peoples and studies of limbs or other body parts morphed into tools and objects…What you see below is one of the most famous and widely-recognised illustrations from the Codex. It’s pretty much self-explanatory.

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The book continues with a chapter on the history of the world and its people – the early days, the developments of societies, political and religious systems and scenes, as well as different customs.

There is also a whole chapter describing the Codex’s writing system… in that same writing system – an inception of sorts. It is followed by a chapter on food, dining, clothing and fashion. Next come the games and sports activities, and the last chapter solely explores architecture.

I will finish with one of the pages I found most intriguing – the man with a pen for a hand, sitting in front of notepad on an easel. What I find so interesting about it is that it mirrors something which happens in our won world and that is scribbles – they mean nothing. Here we have spilled ink on the floor, and an arrangement of what initially would seem to be random scribbles but are in fact actual letters and words in French. Unfortunately I don;t know the language (yet) but it says something about an orgiastic girl emerging and guessing or wondering, and then something about the first days of the Blaba dam… (guessing at foreign languages is so much fun!)

humans

There is so much more to the Codex but I will leave that for those curious enough to go through the whole thing themselves. It is indeed an astonishing (and frighteningly consistent) piece of work.

Below is a video interview with Serafini himself (yes, he is still alive) about how the codex came to be and what it’s all about.

Bristol Show / concepts

Even though most people in the upcoming show in Bristol have decided to exhibit work they’ve been doing on their final uni projects, I decided to do something different, which I’ve been looking an excuse to do for quite a while now.

After having an almost overwhelming number of mad vivid dreams, I thought it would be really interesting to see how they look on paper. What you see below are development images, which I won’t be displaying but which I still find quite captivating.

Trying to portray the magical side of the very action of dreaming was a bit of a mind twisting endeavour so I decided to step away from the dreamer and focus on the dream itself. The sketch below was inspired by the ending bits of a dream I had, where after a mad party everyone went down to the beach, some of us surfing while those who couldn’t were just swimming about and splashing each other. I remember the sea crystal clear, almost mirroring the sky, the sunrise on one side, and the massive planet on the other. I couldn’t tell if it was light or dark because the moment in my mind was in the exact middle between night and day.

developments

I wanted to do some more definitive studies and finalised images…

There’s a small dictionary of marks I made after I did the drawings, not for any particular reason.

I’m really pleased with these, and I think I’ll try some other geometric arrangements, go on a bigger scale – use A2 and A1 sheets of paper to illustrate all of them together… Then quickly move over to incorporating those concepts in the contexts of different myths.

 

chaos / nothingness

 

darkness / infinity

 

infinite spiral study

After finishing the Ogdoad study, I thought that the ‘infinity’ couple looked a bit odd. So I decided to sit down and actually consider how to incorporate the symbol for infinity into a feminine and a masculine shape.

I really liked the idea of the infinity  symbol incorporated into a spiral (below, right) so it became a single line infinitely spiralling outward. I tried filling the male and female with it but I didn’t think it was representative enough (below, left) and went on doing the spiral, and when I twisted the top, it looked like a head, so I went on with a few more little versions of it (small sketches, right).

I found my shapes.

lyric sketchbook / new

 

And here are the new pieces I did for the Lyric Sketchbook. I’ve been swallowed by a wave of black and white recently. “My work is becoming darker and more sensual”, I said one time as a joke but now when I think about it, it does make sense.

I haven’t done work like this before and it was so exciting to do. Even though I was forcing myself to do one more, and one more and another one just to make a habit out of it, at one point I’d zone in and just do it for four hours straight until my housemate asks me if I’ve had food at which point I look up at him with a look of confusion because I have no idea what he’s on about.

It’s great to be working on a project like this because it consists of a series of mini-themes that don’t require research or development – just an idea.

lyric 001
‘you can’t survive on ice cream’ Cheap and Cheerful by The Kills

 

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‘and when she needs to shelter from reality she takes a dip in my daydreams…’ Arabella by Arctic Monkeys

 

lyric 004
‘hard to control when it begins’ Young Blood by The Naked And Famous

 

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‘dark paradise’ by Lana Del Rey

 

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‘locked away in permanent slumber’ This Is Gospel by Panic! At The Disco

 

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‘supermassive black hole’ by Muse

 

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‘divisible invisible’ Splitting The Atom by Massive Attack ft. Horace Andy

 

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‘I’m taking it slow, feeding my flame’ Eyes On Fire by Blue Foundation

 

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‘to see her smile and her eyes unending’ Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by The Subways

 

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‘you’re crying lightning’ Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys

lyric sketchbook / updates

I went back to the Lyric sketchbook I made at the start of second year (I might be mistaken, it was in 2013) sometime round mid September. I’ve been doing periodical updates, but I recently did a few big ones to pieces I’d already been updating and ones that I’ve finished before this summer.

A note on the Lyric Book – I wrote a lyric on each double page spread from random songs that I thought particularly interesting at the time. I thought it would be a good idea to try and illustrate bits of songs without being influenced by the song itself. It’s an curious process with surprising outcomes most of the time.

lyric 002
‘I thought of angels, choking on their halos, get them drunk on rose water’ Just One Yesterday by Fall Out Boy

 

lyric 006
‘up in the air, out of my head’ Up In The Air by 30 Seconds To Mars

 

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‘assembling their philosophies from pieces of broken memories’ This Is Gospel by Panic! At The Disco

 

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‘our blood is gold, nothing to fear’ Splitting The Atom by Massive Attack ft. Horace Andy

 

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‘uncover our heads and reveal our souls’ Keep The Streets Empty For Me by Fever Ray

 

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ARCTIC MONKEYS

 

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‘your pastimes consisted of the strange, and twisted, and deranged ‘ Crying Lightning by Arctic Monkeys

beach sketching

Some fascinations from the Bulgarian seaside during my last visit back home. I thought I might practice life drawing with things I found on the beach. I wanted to relate these sketches to my sea-inspired drawings from earlier in the summer – shells, feathers, seashells, etc. After drawing each one, I’d stick the object in question next to the drawing and write a little journal entry on the other side.

I’ve always been in love with the feeling of standing right at the edge of the beach, where the waves wash over your feet and then recede back with a woosh and a curvy trail of watery sand. That inspired the time-passing-type drawing underneath.

summer 001
‘wave after wave’
summer 002
‘shell’
summer 003
‘feather’
summer 004
‘rapana’

framed

Once I finished this piece, I went out on the look for frames. I knew I didn’t want this drawing to be forgotten away somewhere in a sketchbook or an album, and I wanted to give it an honourable place in my room.