Llamas' Valley http://llamasvalley.com perfect places | imperfect people Tue, 24 May 2016 04:35:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.11 Drawing the world with Ana Aragão http://llamasvalley.com/drawing-the-world-with-ana-aragao/ http://llamasvalley.com/drawing-the-world-with-ana-aragao/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 04:35:54 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5239 Meet Ana Aragão – a Portuguese  illustrator whose works will take you to the unseen world and cities created by hand. Her artistic language is characterized by details, urban views and spatial questions while her work represents a different and unique view of the world. We talked with the artist about the technique that she uses to create her art and the concept of her works, which is more complex than we imagine.

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Do you recall the time when you realized you were interested in art and illustrations? How long is it since you’re an artist?

I always appreciated art and drawings, since people around me always considered I was good at drawing. I turned my drawings into my professional activity the moment I realized it was my true vocation and the fact that only this activity would fulfill me completely. That coincided with the time when people started commissioning me illustration works and when I had my first public features in magazines and online publications.

Could you describe the technique used for your works? Are they first drawn by hand or do you combine it with the digital work?

I am very basic: I grab a pencil and a piece of paper and I draw. Or I choose some acrylic paints or watercolors and some cardboard, or canvas, or paper, and I paint. But mostly I draw with thin black ink pens over paper. I do everything by hand, since I have little skills for the digital world. Although I admit that the computer may be a fantastic tool, for me it tends to be more confusing and to slow down my work. It has no scale and you can “undo” everything you did before. I am really an analogical artist: I like to deal with the possibility of the mistake, of having to choose the scale and materiality of the work in front of you, to get carried away by the direct connection between the brain and the hand.

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Little magical cities that you show have become a significant element in your works. Why and how was this concept developed?

I studied architecture in Porto, where I graduated, so I spent 6 years immersed in the field of architecture and urbanism. Even after that I continued my studies in architecture, having even started to do my PhD in the field of representation of cities through drawing. So I guess the quantity of information in those specific areas should have marked my subconscious in a profound way. It was only after this long path that I “found” my artistic language, marked by detail, urban views and spatial questions. So the concept of exploring my obsessive city-scapes derives from my studies in architecture, even if that was not premeditated.

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In some works, we can notice your hometown Porto, full of life and movement…

My hometown is always present in my work, I guess. Even when I am not trying to portrait Porto at all, the viewer of my work can feel a lot of Porto in almost all my drawings. If on one hand my work process is very scientific-like (I am very tense and concentrated while drawing), on the otherhand I like to be surprised by the lines that come out of the pen without really thinking much about it, aspiring to use an automatism method. So I guess Porto, my hometown and the city I lived almost all my life, runs in my veins and that permeates to all my artistic work.

What intrigues you the most in the illustration world? How do you keep being motivated and devoted for what you do?

I honestly feel I am only in the beginning of my artistic investigation. What drives me to continue to explore drawing is the constant realization I am not there yet. I have both a personal and a conceptual drive. While I draw, I discover so much about myself and that is particularly important for constantly testing my own limits. In terms of themes, I have this utopic idea of being able to do an infinite drawing, a universal picture that can capture our whole world, our entire existence. As José Saramago puts it, I want to write all the names, or to use a metaphor of José Luís Borges, I want to write a circular and infinite book. I would like to translate the big questions in pictures: the relation between the piece and the whole, the local and the global, the individual and the humanity. And as I know this is outrageously ambitious or even utopian, I guess my drive to do whatever I do will continue forever.

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 Are there any themes, messages that you like to use in your work so that it would reach the audience?

The general themes are the cities and atmospheres we all live in. I believe the spaces and dwellings we inhabit have real influence on our behavior, wellbeing and even mental health. The spaces of our current cities are too often alienating, cold and impersonal. In most cities, we just have to look at the outskirts of the center, where most population lives. The importance of human settings for emotional living is a very important issue that our consumerist society tends to forget. Instead of only planning spaces for the delight of the eyes, we should think of all other human senses, and specially our imagination. The city should also be a place for imagination and dream, and that is what I try to say with many of my work.

One of your projects called “ Cartografia (Des)encontrada” was done in collaboration with DamnWorks. And the work reflects the cartographical mood of Espinho –a city in northern Portugal. Could You tell us more about this project?

As you put it, I tried to represent the cartographical mood of the city and not the positivist site plan of it. That is the main idea of the piece. I was challenged to represent the city through my own point of view, so the first thing was to visit the site, talk with the inhabitants, experience the cultural and popular life it had to offer. I came to the conclusion that I could divide the city in 6 different experiences: beach and summer activities, city establishments, culture and society, official shopping and street market, fishing neighborhood and fishing tradition. Based on this division, I drew my own experiences of the place. I loved to do that work! It is really detailed and the street market part was specially fun to do.

In the series “Utopian fragments” we can notice the elements of the city, urban life, which are carefully drawn and each character has its own story. Does the symbol of the “city life” have a deeper meaning in Your works?

Yes, for me living in a city means to live it with all the body, all of the senses and imagination. Books and descriptions are very important to arouse our curiosity, but there is nothing like the experience of being in a place and feeling it.  I like to get lost in a city, get caught by its ambience and moods. We are compelled in our daily life to substitute the real experience by apps, gps, google searches and virtual experiences which makes us poorer in terms of life experience. City life experience should be eclectic, mixed, diversified, beautiful, overwhelming, inspiring and also its contrary, preferably.

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Your works contain not only a 2D view, but also have a spectacular 3D dimensional feeling, which takes the viewer in a magical world that you have created. Is there a certain emotion that you always try to transmit with your works?

I would like people to be able to travel trough my works, as I travel doing them. But it is very difficult, or even impossible, to preview the reactions of the spectator. And that is healthy. I hope to surprise.

What is the most interesting thing about being an artist?

The most amazing and frightening thing about my métier is that there is no rules’ book, no formula, no recipe. Every time I start something new, I deal with uncertainty. Nothing I did before can guarantee the success of what I will do next. Absolutely nothing. I have to deal constantly with my own mistakes. The defeats are harder, because I put my entire energy and heart in every single work, but the victories are also inexplicably enriching. That is beautiful, and fragile. The most important thing in every world/work, in the artistic field or not, is to stay humble.

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What can the art community expect next from you?

I have some surprises. I am trying new techniques, and larger scales. I will present a project with the theme of Utopia which will result in bigger pieces. To keep the suspense, I can say that I am currently doing experiences in supports so different as glass, ceramic, and fabric.

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Animate your world with Carolina Buzio http://llamasvalley.com/animate-your-world-with-carolina-buzio/ http://llamasvalley.com/animate-your-world-with-carolina-buzio/#comments Mon, 23 May 2016 04:56:11 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5044 Today in “The world of Art” we want to introduce you another creative soul from Portugal. Illustrator and animator Carolina Buzio definitely has a story behind her artistic path. Her roots can be found in the heart of Portugal, Porto. Later on, she took her steps in Berlin and got amazed by the life in Budapest. All these places have developed her professional side and also influenced her as a designer. It’s impossible not to fall under her charm – the enthusiasm and optimism of they way she tells her story is very touching. We talked with Carolina about how she got interested in animation and what she experienced in the magical Budapest.

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Your life moments seem to be like scenes from a movie. Born in Portugal, studied communication design, fell in love with animation and moved to Budapest. After then, you decided to take a chance in Berlin and it was a lucky one. Why did you feel the need to study abroad and what experience has it given to you?

I decided to study communication design because it seemed a viable way of getting a job using my creative skills, and studying that really opened my eyes to all the possibilities out there! However, in my second year of studies I realized that I loved illustration and animation more than design itself, so I took the opportunity to do ERASMUS in Budapest, in a school that had a degree focused on animation. Being there made me realize that I had the talent and the patience to be an animator.

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Animation sphere is not widely common these days, it is quite hard to find a place which could offer such studies. What encouraged you to step into this mystical and unique industry?

The feeling I got when I  saw my drawings come to life for the first time was so amazing that I got hooked:  I knew it was something I’d love to do more of in the future. I didn’t know if I wanted to do that on a professional level, all I knew is that I wanted to continue experimenting with it.

One of the projects which is called “CHECK-IN ENERGIEEFFIZIENZ”  shows the environmental issue – climate protection and gives some good suggestions on how to save the energy. Could you share more details about this work? What was the most challenging thing in this project?

It’s always great when you get a project from a client and you identify yourself with the message they want to say, so I was happy to work on it. The main challenge with this sort of work is knowing when to stop: with animation you can always keep on refining it, take it further. Being a perfectionist sometimes leads me to working over the budgeted hours just so that I make it extra nice.

The work “Obrigado” catches the attention by unique and cute illustrations that represent the wild life due to the usage of clean products. The nature theme appears in more of your works. Is it one of your favorite subjects or maybe there are more of them?

I guess I can say I’m lucky to get many environment related projects since it’s a message I definitely stand-by. Nature is an inspiring theme for many artists, so yes, it is one of the subjects I enjoy exploring but I’d say I’m mostly character driven: I enjoy observing and drawing animals and people, studying their interactions and personalities. (Carolina’s note: It’s important to say that I did not animate this video, but did all the illustrations and prepared them for animation)

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Could you describe the creative process of your work (technique, research)?

The process depends on the project (if it is a personal illustration I’m doing or something for a client), but it always involves doing research on what has already been done about the subject. This means looking at others artists’ works, getting inspired, seeing what obstacles I might face and what can still be explored about the theme to make sure I add a different voice to the “conversation” around it. Most of the times I need to do other types of research as well, such as reading about the subject and doing observational drawing. For example, I’ve been doing the visuals for a conference with a “Jungle” theme, so I spent one day at the botanical garden drawing tropical plants! After the research stage I draw a lot of small thumbnail sketches exploring composition, then scan them and redraw or refine the sketches in Photoshop. The coloring phase is mostly done digitally with occasional scans of textures made with black ink and brushes to make it look less digital.

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You have studied communication design in Portugal. Would you agree that the environment has changed your attitude as a designer?

I guess that everywhere you’ve been to ends up shaping the way you see the world…  I notice similarities with other Portuguese artists, mainly in the use of bright bold colors, shapes (as opposed to lines), a reduced colors’  scheme and a very playful approach that is not so much towards realism.

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What is the biggest challenge in the animation process, starting or on the contrary – seeing the final result?

Definitely the start, but that happens to me in every project: I tend to procrastinate before I start something big due to my fear of failure or of finding out I might not yet be good enough to do it.

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How would you describe your work and can you say that you have already developed a recognizable style?

I’d say my work is bright, character based, with a tendency towards vivid colors and a certain playfulness with shapes. I cannot tell you if I have a recognizable style: I think what someone perceives as style is just a reflection of the artist’s influences, personality, life experiences and tastes. If you check my portfolio again in 10 years it might look quite different, but if you look at all those years in between you’ll see the evolution.

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You have mentioned in your website that you have already published a book. This is a great achievement for a designer and it has a huge impact on the professional career. How was the book actually created?

(Smiles) I should update my website! I’ve illustrated two more books that were published last year (for YoYo books) and I’ll be making 5 more this year! That first one you mention was for a publisher in Budapest. I was one of the 5 winners of a contest in Hungary and so my rendering of the “Puss in the Boots” got published.

You have already participated in a feature film The Congress by Ari Folman, which sounds really impressive. What were the tasks that you had to accomplish? 

I came to Berlin for an internship 4 years ago with an animation studio (Bitteschoen.tv), and that was the project they had going on at the time. I was an animation assistant but got to animate a few scenes as well. It was tough but also a really great learning experience and my animation and drawing skills are ten times better for it! However, it also made me realize that what I really enjoy is animating my own characters and so from that point on I made an active effort to be a freelancer doing animation and illustration and finding ways of combining the two fields.

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What are your suggestions for people who are thinking of learning animation?

Do as much as you can! Animation is not for everyone (as I mentioned, patience is a key point), but if you enjoy it then try to learn by doing. If you are not doing an animation degree, then I’m the living proof you can do it by practicing from books (like “The animators survival kit” by Richard Williams), by studying movement and watching amazing animations. Another key element is studying the human form, so join some model-drawing sessions in your city or try some online tools like this one.

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Entering the world of painting with Joana Rego http://llamasvalley.com/entering-the-world-of-painting-with-joana-rego/ http://llamasvalley.com/entering-the-world-of-painting-with-joana-rego/#comments Sun, 22 May 2016 09:09:15 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5041 For interview series “The World of Art”, we visited the studio of a Portuguese painter Joana Rego. The moment we entered the space, ears noticed the beautiful sound of birds singing, sunlight playing through the brushes, acrylic paint and canvas. Suddenly it seemed as if all the urbanistic sounds had disappeared, we escaped the city life and entered the world which has no boundaries and where we can search for inspiration without any interruptions.

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With hot coffee and the sounds of the ocean in the background of our meeting, we talked with Joana about her passion for painting, which has accompanied her from her early age. Having studied in Porto and later in San Francisco, artist gained the experience which  is her companion in the path of the art world up until today. I notice how Joana smiles when it comes to talking about her career and her works – she has never regretted the choice of becoming a painter. We want to introduce you a creative and charming soul from Portugal who has a unique story to tell.

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Joana, how did you get interested in art? When you were thinking of choosing a career of an artist, did you think about the possibility of teaching?

I always knew that I wanted to be a painter, even since a very young age. It is really hard to survive  just being a painter, so teaching is a solution to maintain the activity of painting without having to go through economic constraints, which are always terrible for someone who wants to keep flowing creative availability. Actually, a lot of painters that I know have other activities and most of them also teach. Teaching for me is a great experience because it allows me to be constantly updated. Another reason is that painting is a very lonely activity (I usually spend too many hours alone in the studio), so it is always great to spend some hours per week dealing with creative people, exchanging experiences, learning from students.

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How long have you been a painter?

I guess I can call myself a painter for a long time, but I admit that I can call myself a “professional painter” after I returned from the United States. I achieved a sense of responsibility and maturity there, which was crucial to start feeling as a professional artist.

Can you tell us about the start, for example what was the concept of an artist while you were studying and has it changed over the years?

It’s always hard to explain verbally the concept of being an artist. I like to quote this phrase from Caspar David Friedrich, who reveals to me the essence of being a painter and this phrase may also be applied to any other artistic area: “The painter should not paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees itself in there. But if he does not see anything in itself he has to stop painting what he sees before him.” Of course this is the poetic side of being an artist. Talking about reality, due to all the marketing aspects that professional artists have to go through, of course my notion of the artist changed completely as soon as I became one. This phrase makes me  remember why I became an artist.

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You have graduated from Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts and along with that you have received Master’s degree in painting from the San Francisco Art institute. How did both of these places affect your concept of the art world?

These two important experiences and now my PhD studies have been part of my learning, training and life experience. Without having lived these fantastic experiences, I would not be who I am today and would have more difficulties in the art world.

Painting is one of the types of fine arts that you practice. What does it mean to you?

I have always loved painting. My mother had studied painting as well at the Academy of Fine Arts in Porto, and she was always telling me stories about her experience, so I became fascinated with it. I love painting materials, colors, textures, composition and I feel that I still have so much to learn so I continue exploring techniques and all possibilities regarding painting.

Where are you mentally when you are painting?

(Smiles) Well, when I am creating, I like to think about a lot of things. I think about my travels, about the places that I have seen and visited, about my life, problems, about everything what is surrounding me.

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 What subjects do you like to represent in your work? Is there a particular theme that you use for your projects?

Every subject can be one of my subjects… I like challenges and too often get out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I can start a project based on a book that I read, or it can start from a concept that I have investigated –  the conceptual part of my projects can start from so many things, but there is a constant presence in my work: text, words. I have been interested in exploring the relationship between the words and image in painting. That is actually the theme of my doctoral research.

How does a day in your studio look like?

I always like to start my day early. Usually it is 9 a.m. While I am drinking my cup of coffee I am also drawing some sketches for the works. After that I put on the music on and I start working. When I need to take a break, I take lunch next to the ocean. Sometimes I work until 2 a.m. and forget about the existence of time. I just focus on my project and the process.

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Can you share some details with our readers about the project that you are working now at the moment?

At this precise moment, I am dealing with a project that is part of my PhD thesis. The painting that I will present with the thesis  is based on the idea of text as image and image as text. I started this project from the concept of Ekphrasis –  the use of Ekphrasis transforms listeners or readers into viewers as it describes details of the paintings, images, photographs, etc. It aims to provide the discourse of visual qualities that are inherent to painting.

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Has the style that you had in your works in the start changed over the years?

Of course my work has evolved but I always try to maintain the quality, get better and learn from my mistakes. I have kept a constant subject in my work which is the use of words and I am always exploring the relationship between words and image in painting. I am interested in the content and meaning of the text, its ability to affect the painted picture by the plasticity of its application and in possible interpretations by the observer, because it is a double challenge to the visual perception. I am interested in the artistic work focused on semiotic practices and intricate contemporary relationship with the language.

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Which is  the most challenging piece of work that you have completed?

I can’t refer exactly to a single piece, but a series of works called “A to Z. Between words and images” (an exhibition that I presented in 2009) is a really important project for me for several reasons, but the main reason is the fact that this project coincided with the period when I began my theoretical research on the relation between words and image on painting and it helped me to pursue the project with more consistency.

What technique do you use in your works?

I like to use acrylics and sometimes I use silkscreen. Acrylic paint allows me to work the way I love to, which is working with several paint layers without having to wait too much time for the paint to dry. Silkscreen allows me to incorporate in my paintings some appropriated images – this process lets me transfer onto canvas images from my own drawings, photographs. The silkscreen process opened new possibilities for the content of my work and it allows me as well to make sufficiently rich surfaces regarding form and concept to be scrutinized by both the eye and the mind.

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What is the most difficult thing in the art world?

The most difficult part for me is dealing with the commercial part of the art world, art market, clients, work release and all those subjects that are so important.. The advice that I would give to a person that wants to follow this path is to try not to allow these issues to interfere with the creative process and work genuineness.

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How do you stay focused and committed to what you do?

I am never “not working” –  no matter what I do, I can feel it can be a part of my creative process. I am always trying to feed my creativity through my readings, travels, seeing the work of others. My work is conceptual and I always start a project with a clear notion of what I am working with and about. A painter works with the soul, the inner sensibility. I make innumerable formal and iconographic decisions in the process of working, during the preparation of a new project. When the work is in progress, it  may be a pure expression of my inner world – my intelligence, keen and observing eye, emotionality, sensuality, romantic nature and theatrical bent. It reflects my passions, sometimes my political beliefs. My art also tries to reach out beyond the self to embrace the viewer’s intellect, memory and eye. I can use the cliché, which says that “An artist does not give answers, but he is always asking questions”.

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Interview series: 3 Portuguese artists http://llamasvalley.com/interview-series-3-portuguese-artists/ http://llamasvalley.com/interview-series-3-portuguese-artists/#comments Sat, 21 May 2016 08:19:43 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5143 We are all familiar with the definition of the word artist. It’s a person who creates art and who has certain skills in drawing, painting, or others. It’s a skilled performer creating works of art that receive compliments or criticism. To most of us, art seems to be an abstract medium, allowing us to express our emotions, feelings, and opinion on various political or personal issues. But actually it’s more than that. Countries constantly develop individual forms of art along with particular styles. One of these countries is Portugal, which has its own character, recognizable in fine arts, graphical, design works.

In this chapter The world of Art we travel and talk to artists from particular countries, introducing the style that they have developed, and what differences and similarities we can notice by watching their work and listening to their ideas. Portugal is one of the countries that is well known for the unique, expressive and modern style observable in its art industry. Painters, illustrators, graphic designers and other creative people have created works, which express not only their individual opinion, but also mark a big step in the art world.

This time we decided to meet such artists as the painter Joana Rego, Ana Aragão, illustrator and animator Carolina Buzio. All of them have strong influence on others and all of them are individual artists, expressing their ideas through the visual content recognizable in Portugal. But also all of them are from different areas of art. These women shared their experience, thoughts with Llamas’ Valley readers and showed us their works, which make Portugal stand out in the world of art.

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Ana Aragão, photo by Bruno Barbosa

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Carolina Buzio, photo by Jules Villbrandt

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Joana Rego, photo by Bruno Barbosa

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Colorful Liz West’s reflections http://llamasvalley.com/colorful-liz-wests-reflections/ http://llamasvalley.com/colorful-liz-wests-reflections/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 22:18:56 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5170
When presenting her new ambitious work “Our Colour Reflection”, British artist Liz West describes it as a playful, elegant, engaging and probably the most thoughtful and quiet work of hers. “Our Colour Reflection” is an installation of more than 700 colorful mirrors in the former St John’s Church building which is now in 20-21 Visual Centre gallery in Scunthorpe, England. The installation transforms the Gothic interior of the building as colorful mirrors reflect the gallery’s lighting on the roof. Altogether, there are 15 different shades of colored mirrors which are set at various heights in order to reflect the roof space of the old nave, revealing parts of the architecture that would otherwise be invisible, and project color up into the historic interior. The visitors will be able to see themselves in the reflecting surfaces while exploring the space. It works like a dialogue between viewer, architecture, and artwork.4. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux

9. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux
It took Liz months of logistical planning, including a number of site visits in a period of two years, as well as researching the best place where to source colored mirrors in the widest palette, organizing shipments of materials from abroad, and trying to figure out the best way to get the site she wanted – specifically the grand architecture of the former church building, whilst trying to convince people that what she had in her head was going to work. “I took a lot of time to research and consider the history of the building and the weight of connotations it holds as a former place of worship. I  thought about stained glass and the importance of light within the space. This has allowed me to make sure the work is grounded within its site but also holds its own voice within the grandeur and information that space brings to the conversation,” said the author.14. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux 10. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux 5. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux

“Viewers will each have their own perspectives and their own experiences tempered by movement through space and through time. By going unplugged here, I am trying to emphasize that while artificial light can be manipulated it can only, at best, replicate the dynamism, shifting mood and changes in quality embodied in natural light,” she continued. One of the exhibition visitors even observed that it felt like the stained glass had fallen out of the windows onto the floor, shimmering in the sunlight. However, the work constantly changes, depending on the time of the day. When it is light, a sunlight comes through the windows and hits the mirrors. During the sunset, the gallery spotlights reflect off the colored mirrors and send vibrant color dots up into the interior of the former St John’s church, illuminating the neo-gothic architecture.

17. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux 11. Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016. Image Credit - Hannah Devereux

Liz West creates installations, which use colors and light to transform spaces and the ways people experience them. She studied Fine Art Sculpture & Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art. Previous large-scale works include “Your Colour Perception”, at the Manchester’s Federation House, and An Additive Mix her renowned installation at the National Media Museum.

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Anna Rose’s visual provocations http://llamasvalley.com/anna-roses-visual-provocations/ http://llamasvalley.com/anna-roses-visual-provocations/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 10:54:09 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5151 Anna Rose is a visual artist whose works require certain scrutiny in order to understand what’s behind the image – they are extraordinary, unusual, provoking. A graduate of Fine Arts in San Francisco Art Institute, she’s now living in Italy and finds herself working with almost every type of art one can imagine: video, costume, installation and photography. The first thing which attracts the eye is the usage of hair which could be considered as her trademark – she’s not afraid to admit she’s obsessed by this motif. As she puts in her own words, she’s interested in a relationship between the body and environment. In addition to that, her goal is to make the conversation between these two alive and place it in a certain context, enrich it with historical, psychological, cultural mythology. Anna’s unusual taste has won her a big number of exhibitions both in the USA and Europe.

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photo by Monica Galletto

You work with different mediums of art: photography, video, costume, installations. Which one was the first you tried? Which one do you like the most?

Originally I studied painting, and over time the paintings became increasingly sculptural until the canvas and paint disappeared and fabric, paper, and other materials took their place. After working with those tactile materials—yarn, string, fibers—the jump to wearing them was instinctive. Photography and video entered into my practice in an almost accidental way. I quickly realized that the choices I was making about how to photograph or document these installations and wearable sculptures was vital to the work itself. I can’t say that I prefer one medium over the other, it really depends on the piece.

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Video still from “The Mediterranean Diet”

You seem to be obsessed with hair – it is the main detail in most of your photography projects (Caryatids, Hair Does, Hair Suite). Why do you like it so much? Is it some kind of metaphor?

It’s true, I am obsessed with hair. Hair is such a rich topic. It’s something that we all react to. It’s the historical, cultural and psychological weight which makes it an inexhaustible source of investigation. It serves as a container for so much of the mythology (both historical and contemporary) that guides our thinking about the body. I also find that it makes the work accessible, in many cases it offers a very visceral point of contact for the viewer. We all have experience with hair, we all know what hair feels like, the intimacy of touching someone’s hair, how we feel when we find it in our food.

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You’re also interested in the topic of female body. What does it mean for you? Do you agree that woman’s body is not treated the way it should be in modern society?

We all have bodies, whether they be female, male or otherwise, so again I think the topic allows an access point to the work. The relationship that we have with ourselves and others passes in someway through our physical body, it serves as the channel for much of the information that we transmit and absorb about ourselves and our location in time and space. The question of the body, its ownership, its perceived role, and its regulation is of course highly charged, and being a woman certainly factors into my work. As I mentioned above I’m fascinated by the historical and contemporary mythology surrounding the female body (which often leads to fear, misunderstanding and mistreatment of the body, even by women themselves). I would argue that woman’s bodies are part of the vast population of mistreated bodies in modern society.

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What message do you want to send with your art?

I’m not sure that it’s the artist’s job to send a message. I think what we should be doing is opening up conversations, opening up space for discussion for approaching something from a different perspective.

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Video still from “Pony”

Is it difficult to come up with the concepts for your videos and installations?

Yes and no. It’s difficult in the sense that I have to wait for the ideas to form. That can seem to take ages, and I often find myself doubting that they ever will! I might spend a year with part of a certain idea in my head before I actually know how to realize the work, or I might hold on to video footage for months before knowing how exactly how I want to edit it. There is always a moment though when I can say to myself that the work is done, and I trust that that will come as long as I’m patient enough to wait for it. Done can also mean that it’s going in the trash. Not all work is good work.

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Video still from “Bow”

Do you agree that the main role of art is to cause particular emotions?

Like I said before, I think the role of art is create a space for thinking, for conversation. Emotion is of course a critical part of that space.

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Video still from “Braided”

Many artists seek to represent the magic of landscape with their art, and you also explore this theme (for example, videos of Iceland). What do you think is special about your representations?

I look for landscapes or locations that I think can enter into conversation with the figures that I put into them, so that the landscape serves not just as a backdrop but as a player in a sort of tableau vivant. To be honest in the case of the work I did in Iceland, I really struggled to find a way to make work in and about the landscape. The sheer expansiveness of it, the overwhelming size and beauty of it, it really paralyzed me initially. I felt like anything I did was completely dwarfed by the natural landscape, both by its physical and psychological scale. Ultimately I did a series of videos related to this feeling of smallness and the inability to orient myself in the hugeness of the landscape stitching together videos of the same stretch of the horizon. The movement of the camera in each of the clips causes the horizon line to shift up and down, never quite matching up in a continuous line.

What ambitions do you have for the future?

My main ambition is to make more work. I don’t mean that to be funny, it is actually a crucial concern for many of the artists I know. I find I’m constantly asking myself how my art practice can sustain itself, how I can continue working with the necessary focus while managing the other professional aspects of my career, my home life, and other responsibilities. It would be nice to say that it all just happens naturally, but it really takes a lot of work to find a balance.

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What are the projects you are occupied with at the moment?

Right now I’m working on an ongoing series of videos related to vanity. I’m fascinated by it, by the vanity of others, by my own vanity. Much of my research traces the origins of the perception, treatment and representation of vanity, and looks at how contemporary attitudes seem to be shifting towards viewing vanity as a virtue rather than a vice.

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Colorful mountains in the desert http://llamasvalley.com/colorful-mountains-in-the-desert/ http://llamasvalley.com/colorful-mountains-in-the-desert/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 11:05:31 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5079 The least expected thing to see in the middle of the desert would probably be a work of art. And yet, Art Production Fund in New York in collaboration with Nevada Museum of Art in Reno decided to produce a specific site for a large scale project, entitled as “Seven Magic Mountains” – seven immense constructions of colorful stones created by a Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. These sculptures, which are situated in the south of Las Vegas,  take the art of balancing to new heights – fluorescent block towers are between 30 and 35 feet tall and evoke the fragility of balance. Immense stones look as if they’re going to fall any second. This project can also be seen as tentative to portray collaboration between humans and nature – whether it’s artificial or natural, an idea also emphasized by Ugo. An interesting fact: Seven Magic Mountains is one of the largest installations in the United States completed in over 40 years.

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Unique furniture from concrete http://llamasvalley.com/unique-furniture-from-concrete/ http://llamasvalley.com/unique-furniture-from-concrete/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 06:37:08 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5071 Designer Fernando Mastrangelo, who works and lives in Brooklyn, New York (USA) created an exceptional series of modern furniture and accessories, entitled as “Drift”. It was presented this year during the design week of New York. This series, which consists of a sofa, bench, little table, mirror decorated with concrete and pouffe, is unique not only because of its design but also due to extraordinary materials which were used, such as concrete. The sofa is one of the most extraordinary examples of this collection. It’s an interesting combination of luxurious, soft velour in sea-blue tones and heavy concrete. Designer creates a special mixture from hand-painted sand, glass powder and cement which he later uses as foundation for furniture. Every piece is hand-created and fabricated limitedly. According to Fernando, this series is inspired by rocks of the Grand Canyon.

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Feeding inner fashion animal http://llamasvalley.com/feeding-inner-fashion-animal/ http://llamasvalley.com/feeding-inner-fashion-animal/#comments Tue, 17 May 2016 06:30:07 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5086 It seems as if moving into the new apartment for Kriste Stan, an author of fashion blog Feed Your Fashion Animal and her boyfriend Vincas Cygas wasn’t such a difficult task after all. They both decided to come back and live here in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. “Vogue”, “Elle”, “Harper’s Bazaar”, “W magazine” are only some of the magazines which have noticed light, minimalistic and elegant style of Kriste, which is perfectly evident in her clothes as well as in her white as a fairytale home.

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Kriste, you studied and lived in London for the past three years. Why have you come back and who was the happiest about this decision?

I’m not sure about that… I think I felt that London wasn’t my city. There are many possibilities, new things, new people and useful experience out there… And yet we made a decision to come back. Vincas had plans to start studying in Lithuania and we thought that we could try to install ourselves here. When he finishes his studies, maybe we’ll travel somewhere else. My parents and even grandparents had always wanted me to finish my studies in a foreign country, maybe even to stay there, so people who were the happiest about this decision were actually my friends and myself. I was really happy about coming back to Lithuania.

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You searched for a new apartment. What is the story of this house?

This house is like a memory of my childhood. My grandparents lived here and I used to spend time in this house for about twelve years. Just when I came back, I told my grand-dad that this house is very close to me and that I would like to interpret it in my own way, redecorate it a little bit and start living. We made the changes all by ourselves, so we’re very thankful for our families for helping us: we would gather together and take away the wallpapers, clean the walls, take to pieces the wardrobes. Previously this apartment was in soviet style, so now Vincas and I are happy for having it re-done according to our taste and wishes. We haven’t invited grandparents yet but we hope they won’t be shocked! (laughs).

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You’re working in fashion communication right now. How does your work day look like? I guess you have less time for Feed Your Fashion Animal blog…

Each day is very different. When I come to the office, I usually drink a cup of tea, check my e-mail, arrange my schedule. In this kind of work, I get to communicate with many interesting people, stylists, photographers and I’m very grateful for new encounters, experiences. We’re also working with a children’s fashion shop, so sometimes I have to work as a stylist and organize the photoshoots. I do have enough time for my blog. Right now, I would like to change its conception a little bit: unite a website dedicated for my illustrations and publish more artistic material. I’d love to show more of my art works than combinations of clothes. I’m in deep reflections right now concerning these changes, thinking how to connect everything and create something new and beautiful.

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What was the most memorable moment during your career of a fashion blogger?

It was probably London Fashion Week, when my outfit was published in “Vogue” magazine. I recall that moment very well: I started jumping from joy. It was my very first London Fashion Week, September 14th and I had come to study in London just two days before. I came up with that outfit very quickly, put in on and went out with one of my friends, who was already studying in London… It was a real fashion oasis for me! Many photographers rushed to take photos and I didn’t even know what magazines they were working for. After some weeks, I saw a photo of myself in “Vogue Italia” and was completely amazed. And after that, I saw myself in other magazines as well… This summer, while I was in Barcelona, I met a photographer Adam from “W magazine”. He collaborated with “Vogue” and other publishers. We discussed briefly the fashion industry, the most famous models and other people who are working in it, and I was absolutely fascinated by how simple and easy-going that man was. He had started his career while working in a cafe and spent much time taking photographs. Getting to know him encouraged me to try more and push myself towards my goals.

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What do you think is the most important rule for someone who wants to be a successful fashion blogger?

Well, I’ve always said that the main rule is being unique. It’s essential to stop trying look like others. Maybe getting ideas from different people, especially in the start when you’re beginning to form your style and taste is quite common, but you have to stay faithful to yourself. Of course, “pop” style is more accessible to mass culture and popularity comes much easier that way, but if you do what’s honestly important for you and you do it according to your very own vision, success comes along with it.

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Who makes all those OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) photos?

Actually, I had a lot of photographers. The very first one of them was my sister, who was only nine years old then! (laughs). We would go together outside, I would tell her where to stand and how to take photos. Later on it was my boyfriend Vincas, who’s still taking photos of me sometimes. While I was in London, I met a girl from South Korea during the fashion week. She had finished photography studies in London Fashion College. I’m very thankful for her to have photographed my outfits. Now, when I’m back here, I work mostly with my friend and my colleague Viktorija Paskelyte.

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Your “Instagram” photos are not any less beautiful. Would you have any advice how to create such aesthetically attractive feed?

There’s probably no secret because I capture things just the way I see them. I try to look at things from the other angle. Probably it’s not evident from the shot, but I spend much time composing how everything is going to look like in the photo. When I do a still life, I try to avoid intensity so that objects, people and clothes would occupy the most important role in that photo. It’s not white walls that count, but the environment – it should be neutral so that things which we want to emphasize could be seen.

What do you think are the perks of being a fashion blogger (invitations to fashion events, gifts, recognition or others)?

I value getting to know other people very much. Sometimes when I meet somebody, I think that probably I won’t see him for a second time, but I try to maintain the conversation and friendly relations. This has a positive echo in the future: various collaborations happen, or I find nice friends. I also like participating in events and having a chance to share my impressions with others. And when I hear that this inspires other people as well, I try not to miss a single possiblity to do this.

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What are the things about you which would surprise people?

One time somebody asked me what would I do if I weren’t a fashion blogger and I answered that I’d probably go to Africa or Australia to work with animals. People are really surprised when they hear that. Fashion, animals… these things probably don’t match for them.

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What is the first thing you notice in other people’s style?

It’s probably the accessories. A lot of people would say shoes, but I tend to notice bags more. I change my predilections every year, so I’ve seen lots of bags which attract the eye – then I want them and ask the owner where it’s from and sometimes get sad when they say it’s a model from an old collection.

Is there a fashion rule you’d never break?

I like experimenting very much. I never create rules for myself and I never use them, so I don’t get to break them.

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How would you describe fashion of Vilnius, in comparison with London or other fashion capitals?

Previously, it was more difficult to comment on this, because all people were similar and dressed in a similar way, but now when I’ve spent some years abroad, I notice that a lot of things have changed here. There are more experimenting people, who are not afraid to go out dressed up in a way which is beautiful for them, so I’m very happy about that. I also feel better this way – I used to feel a little uncomfortable because people would look and comment on my “strange looks”. But this encourages me to stay faithful to myself and dress up the way I like, in spite of what other people think. This is how my blog started – I wanted to prove other girls that you can dress up how you like and this is how it should always be done, it’s not important what others think. So now I’m really pleased with the situation in Vilnius because there are more people who think this way and are not afraid to try something new. You can wear whatever you like in London and nobody will ever say anything. Lithuanian people are becoming braver, but the huge difference remains. The fact that high fashion is more affordable for British people is probably also important, they can invest more in their style.

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Who was your first fashion icon?

I think the very first one was my mom. When I was little, she used to teach me how to match colors, choose what to wear. One morning I got up and told her: “It’s over, I’ll choose myself”. It was winter and I chose thin pantyhose, a shirt without sleeves, but I was very happy that mom let me do that. She always gave her advice but never pushed to necessarily use it.

If you could change wardrobes with one person, who would it be and why?

I’d change wardrobes with a fashion blogger and journalist Leandra Medine from “Man Repeller”. Right now she’s my fashion icon. I got a chance to talk to her in London and I’m very glad about that. Judging from her blog, Leandra is a very interesting and inspiring personality. I never miss her outfits. I think we have something in common and we try to match things which don’t match.

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Design studio creates leaning furniture http://llamasvalley.com/design-studio-creates-leaning-furniture/ http://llamasvalley.com/design-studio-creates-leaning-furniture/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 09:18:11 +0000 http://llamasvalley.com/?p=5046 There are many challenges which designers have to face while creating furniture and everyday objects, and very often these challenges can serve as inspiration for particular decisions. Studio XYZ integrated architecture decided to concentrate on gravity, which they identify as “one of the major challenges design faces”.  This is how the 60 series was born. In this collection, the furniture (chairs, a console) are leaned towards to horizontal surface by 60 degrees. Everything in this series is perfectly traditional – techniques, material, colors, but the concept looks a little bit disturbing at the first glance. Furniture seems to be one step away from falling. This project represents a new way to approach design and breaks conventional rules of creating furniture. Design studio equally emphasizes that this series was created for people, who “love challenges and adrenaline rushes”.

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