srijeda, 7. prosinca 2016.

Fay Wheldon and Johannes Mario Simmel (book recommendation and review/ preporuke knjige i ogled)

 I’m back with a new book review – NO, WAIT make that TWO)! Today I want to recommend two novels to you, one is written by an Austrian guy and the other by a British lady. Ladies first, alright? This is my second novel by Fay Whelton, the first one was Big Girls Don’t Cry and I thought that one was incredibly insightful and intelligent. If you want to read it, my original review is here. Now, my conclusion about this second novel by Fay is:  just copy past everything I said about how brilliant this author is. I mean this woman goes beyond being witty and intelligent, her novels are not just satire, they are also wonderfully and beautifully written. Besides being so darn smart, Fay also makes for an amazingly insightful social and political commentator. This is social satire at its best- because it is not targeting anyone- or rather it is targeting everyone. There is a generous amount of humour in this novel and it balances nicely with the portrayal of characters and the plot itself. I did really feel for the characters in this one (more about that in a minute), so fingers up for their development.

  So, her first novel ( the first I read- Big Girls Don’t  Cry) really impressed me, but I must say that I like this novel even better. Why? Because of the narrative. Whelton uses framed narrative very much to her advantage. The story is told by a seventy-two-old grandmother who has had a wild past and who is now an extremely perceptive observer of everything going on. What is going on exactly? Well, her granddaughter Hattie (to whom our narrator has been a good grandmother despite being a rather horrible mother to her own daughter who was raised by her grandmother- something that seems to run in the family) has decided to hire an au pair so she can get back to her work since living on one salary is taking its toll on her relationship/partnership. I say partnership because Martyn and Hattie aren’t married. They are partnered. As a matter of principle. They love one another but feel they love doesn’t need a confirmation. A piece of paper means nothing to them. Or so they claim. Through eyes of our narrator we will learn a great deal about this couple- spiced with many reflections on modern relationships as well as. I would absolutely recommend this novel to everyone.

Who is the Austrian guy? Apparently, Johannes is a well-known written who sold millions of copies and had several movies adapted for the screen but somehow, I haven’t heard of him before. Moreover, this was my first novel by him. I wasn’t sure should I write my review in English because this book (or so it seems) hasn't been translated to English. I looked it up and there is no trace of any English translation anywhere. I didn’t read it in original (that would be German), because I can’t read in German. I’m always surprised that so much of European literature hasn’t been translated to English but then again perhaps the English market is overbooked? I suppose there is a lot of people who read in English and aren’t English themselves but on the other hand they probably prefer to read a book in their own mother tongue. I don’t know, but I do know that I always have an easier time finding Croatian translations than English ones.

What kind of book is it? It is a very short novel that is easy to follow and can be read fairy quickly but the story itself is far from trivial. Despite what it might seem like, it is not some cheesy love story. The idea of the novel is very interesting and the story felt quite original to me. It is well written. The ending will probably catch you by surprise. I really liked it. I felt it tied everything together nicely. Johannes is slightly ironic at times, but his bitterness is always dozed with sweetness so that the taste this story leaves in one mouth is quite pleasant. The writer doesn’t really go into depth of things, but honestly, I didn’t mind that. My interpretation of this book is that it leaves a lot to interpretation. I quite liked that ambiguity because it reminded me of Henry James and oddly enough I also caught myself thinking about Camus and his novel The Stranger- there is this vibe of isolation that I caught towards the very end.

I feel like there is a way to read this story in which the married couples are really in love but the opposite could also be the case. I guess we will never know. We’re all sometimes so relentless in the way we read others that there is no point in trying to prove us wrong. Perhaps this is even more case with those we love, we’re so certain we know them well that we become possessive over their identity. He is like that or she is like that- every wife (girlfriend) and husband (boyfriend) are so sure they can describe their spouse (partner) but what do we really know of each other? What is love after all? Passion or loyalty? Is true love more common between friends or between mere strangers? Can we be truly ourselves with those we know well? Removal of inhibitions can be a powerful feeling, but isn’t love always about intimacy? However, what is intimacy? Johannes doesn’t exactly ask these questions, but he makes you want to ask them and I think that is what makes a good writer. 

The narrator of the book intrigued me from the start. He is a writer of 'popular books' that sell in million copies. He gave up on writing books of any artistic value because art doesn’t sell well. He now writes book he despises but that are earning him a fortune. He seems to be one of those ‘live and let life’ characters that avoid becoming shallow by remaining genuinely open-minded. Thus, he seems to be a decent person, despite making a living writing cheesy novels. At the same time, he also works as a ‘saviour’ of films gone wrong. Apparently, he can rewrite them in matter of days because of his immense talent as a screenwriter. He doesn’t want anyone to know about his screenwriter work and projects, because he is worried that his ‘trashy’ readers might be put off if they found out he was a part of artistic films. Interesting, right?

 Occasionally, you come upon a novel where the narrator is as interesting as the protagonists themselves. Sometimes that narrator seems be reflecting the writer himself (I’m thinking The Human Stain and Philip Roth).  This narrator does have many similarities with the writer himself (if Wikipedia is to be trusted). I suppose the reason why I like this kind of story framing is because it gives me an opportunity to look at the writer- or at least it provides me with an illusion of observing a writer. You can almost see his writing process. I just find it fascinating. I know that some people aren’t fans of framed narratives, but I seem to love them, even those that are almost hopelessly overdone as Wuthering Heights. I suppose that in some stories it can be too much, but there it is simply perfect. I can say the same thing about She May Not Go. The narrator in this novel was simply perfect.

Anyhow, our writer is travelling in train when he meets a woman who is glowing with happiness. She is her fifties and apparently, he can make this observation only because she hadn’t her hands done, otherwise she looks younger and as I said she had that special glow that enamoured women have. As you can see, there is a lot of intertextuality here. Basically, our narrator is playing the cliché game a bit, but he does it very subtly and at first you hardly notice it.  It is not that this is a novel about writing, but if you look closely, you’ll find references about writing process. Anyway, this lady confides in him. Why? Is it because he told her that he is a writer or is it as she claims- she felt instantly that he is the person (the one) to hear her story? She tells him and she is travelling to see the only man she has only truly loved- a painter. At this point, it is her story that we’re following and it is a very touching story …what happens from there? You’ll have to read to find out.

There are some interesting questions about the nature of painting that this novel opened and they made me think a bit. I think they’re meant to be make us think about the art itself. The narrator himself, who is a person of considerable artistic talent (if his screenwriting miracles are any judge), fails to interpret the almond painting correctly, or does he? Read the novel and let me know what you think about the painter and his talent. Basically, we have three narrators in this novel, our writer and two women. Are the women truly reliable narrators? Is the writer himself? When the writer sees the almond blossoms for the first time, he is moved by them. Was that a trick? Or was it not? They say there is an element of truth in every lie. Perhaps in some lies there is more truth than in some truths. Perhaps it wasn’t all a trick. Perhaps it was. Yes, I would have to repeat once again- this novel is ambiguous to the core. I have at least five interpretations of the ending, if you do read this one, send me a message so we can discuss them. Not since my last Kazuo Ishiguro novel have I been thinking over things as much!

Apart from the theme of love, there is obviously another important theme and that would be the theme of art. It is not only by mentioning painting that art becomes the important theme, if you look closely you will see that this novel explores the writing a bit as well. There is humour and irony in it and a sense of playfulness but all said and done, this story makes you think. It doesn’t feel very ambitious at first, but you might be surprised. In English, this novel could be titled The Man Who Painted Almond trees. If you want to ponder a bit about love, art and the harsh realities of the world, this book is not a bad choice. It is a very potent mix of romantic and bitter, trivial and magical, so if you don’t mind bittersweet writing, give it a go.  The novel doesn’t have many twists and turn, except for the one towards the end. I’m still under the impression of this unexpected ending that I found to be quite fresh and convincing.

There is one thing that bugs me about this novel. I’m not entirely sure am I reading too much into it. It is either a work of a very restrained writer who managed to deliver something extraordinary without making it too obvious or it is a work of a talented writer who didn’t try too hard but somehow ended up writing something profound without even intending it? I’m not sure. I can’t put my finger onto something and say- this is what makes this novel a masterpiece but that doesn’t have to mean anything. All things considered, who cares? Maybe it is a trick, but these almond blossoms impressed me. On some level, even tricks are real. Real in the sense of the feeling they grant us- for illusions are a part of reality too. Bottom line is that this novel lingers in my head. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, but I’m having a blast analyzing it in my head. So, there you go guys. Two reviews and one post...and tomorrow expect something a tad different.

utorak, 6. prosinca 2016.

My fashion illustration of the day / Moja modna ilustracija dana ( Le Diable au corps) 6.12.2016

This morning I read an amazing novel. Le Diable au corps (translated as The Devil In the Flesh) is a novel by Raymond Radiquet. Believe it or not, this was by first book by this French writer. I don't think I even heard of him before, which is odd, but well, it happens. In his time, Raymond was quite a celebrity and he is still considered as one of the important French writers of that period. Did I like this novel? Quite frankly, I loved it. I just couldn't put this novel down. I must have read it an hour or so. I got up a bit more earlier this morning so I actually had time to read it with my morning coffee (it is not a very long novel but still it is amazing how easy it was to find one's self glued to those pages). Perhaps I should make it a habit, getting up more early so I can read more. 

Jutros sam pročitala divan roman. Đavo u tijelu  (naslov izvornika Le Diable au corps) je roman Raymonda Radiqueta. Vjerovali ili ne, ovo je moj prvi roman ovoga pisca. Mislim da nikad prije nisam čula za njega, što je neobično, ali događa se. U svoje vrijeme Raymond je bio zvijezda, a i danas se smatra jednim od važnih francuskih pisaca toga vremena. Je li mi se svidio ovaj roman? Veoma. Jednostavno ga nisam mogla odložiti. Sigurno sam ga pročitala u sat ili tako nešto. Jutros sam ustala malo ranije tako da sam ga mogla pročitati uz jutarnju kavu ( to nije dugačak roman, ali opet nevjerovatno je koliko se je lako jednostavno zalijepiti se za stranice). Možda bi mi to trebala biti nova navika, ustajati rano da mogu više čitati. 

Raymond was born in 1903 and died in 1923, when he was only 20 years old. I suppose that his premature departure might have had something to do with the high sales of this novel, but if this book is anything to go by, he really was an amazingly talented writer.  This novel tells a story about a sixteen year old that falls in love and has an affair with a married woman (who is nineteen herself so in a way she is still a girl too). The story is set in the time of the first world war and it was published shortly after it. It caused a scandal when it was published, which makes me think of this book (which was also considered shocking at its time). However, I doubt that this novel would raise any eyebrows today.  There are no explicit or graphic scenes in the novel  but it does talk about adultery quite openly.  Is it a bit reminiscent of Anna Karenina? I would say yes, the female protagonist does make me think of Anna for more reasons than one. Anyhow, I do recommend this novel. 

Raymond je rođen 1903. a umro je 1923. godine. kada je imao samo 20 godina. Pretpostavljam da  je njegov prerani odlazak potpomogao prodaju romana, ali sudeći po ovoj knjizi, doista je bio nevjerovatno talentiran pisac. Ovaj roman priča priču šestaestogodišnjega mladića koji se zaljubljuje i ima vezu s udanom ženom (mada se i nju može nazvati djevojkom jer joj je tek devetnaest godina).  Priča je smještena u vrijeme prvoga svjetskoga rata, a  izdana je nedugo nakon rata, izazivajući skandal po objavljivanju (što me podsjeća na ovaj roman). No, mislim da danas ovaj roman i ne bi izazvao čuđenje. Nema nikakvih eksplicitnih ili napadnih scena u njemu. Istina, priča o preljubu na otvoren način. Podsjeća li na Anu Kareninu? Rekla bi da, ženski glavi lik me na više načina podsjeća na nju. U svakom slučaju, preporučila bi ovaj roman. 

YouTube video (of the painting process/ video slikanja)

What does this novel have to do with my painting of the day? Well, nothing really. I just wanted to share this recommendation. I might write a longer review soon. My illustration is actually inspired by an outfit that I wore many Summers ago. Is it a case of Summer Nostalgia? I don't think so. I'm happy that it is Autumn. I even don't mind the cold weather we're been having. Perhaps it will even help us get rid of all those nasty viruses that have been going around. That's me. Always an optimist. At least when it comes to short term plans.I also made a video, just in case anyone is interested in seeing the painting process. I wasn't very active on my YouTube channel so far, but you never know- that might change soon. At any rate, I plan to make a few more of these videos.

Kakve veze roman ima s mojom ilustracijom dana? Pa zapravo nikakve. Samo sam htjela podijeliti ovu preporuku. Možda napišem i duži ogled uskoro. Moja ilustracija je zapravo nadahnuta odjevnom kombinacijom koju sam nosila prije dosta ljeta. Je li u pitanju nostalgija za ljetom? Mislim da nije. Drago mi je što je jesen. Čak mi ne smeta ni hladnije vrijeme. Možda nam pomogne da se riješimo svih tih ružnih virusa koji se vrte uokolo. To sam ja. Vječni optimist. Barem što se tiče kratkoročnih planova. Napravila sam i video, ukoliko nekoga zanima proces slikanja. Nisam bila vrlo aktivna na svome YouTube kanalu u zadnje vrijeme, ali nikada ne znate- to se ubrzo može promijeniti. Svakako ću napraviti barem još nekoliko ovakvih videa. 

Medium: watercolours on paper / Medij: vodene boje na papiru

ponedjeljak, 5. prosinca 2016.

My fashion illustration of the day/ Moja modna ilustracija dana (blue jacket and purple skirt/ plava jakna i ljubičasta suknja) 5.12.2016

Modern princess. This is what this painting makes me think of. Lately, I've noticed that women are starting to wear dresses and skirts more often. This makes me very happy not only because it is a style I personally favour, but because more versatility is always good. I mean there is nothing wrong with jeans, but they have (sort of) became a uniform, haven't they? Sometimes I feel that jeans have ventured too much into a comfort zone (for most of us anyway). It is like this magical denim item makes things (too?) easy for us and thus we experiment less. Not that I'm an an anti-jeans advocate. I'm wearing a pair of flares as I'm typing this. It just that I love to see  women wearing skirts and dresses more often. What I like even more is that skirts and dresses come in such a variety of styles and lengths today: pencil, A-cut, midi, mini, bodycon, bohemian, princess name it, you can find it in shops, virtual or material ones.  

Moderna princeza. Na to me ova slika podsjeća. U zadnje vrijeme, primijetila sam da žene češće nose haljine i suknje. Ovo me čini sretnom ne samo zato jer je to stil koji osobno volim, nego i zato jer je više raznolikosti dobro. Mislim nije da su traperice po nečemu loše, ali su nekako postale uniforma, zar ne? Nekad mi se čini da su previše otišle u tu zonu ugode (barem za većinu nas). Čini mi se da ovaj čarobni komad trapera čini stvari (previše?) lakima za nas i tako manje eksperimentiramo. Ne da imam nešto protiv traperica. Upravo sada dok tipkam ovo nosim par traperica zvonastoga kroja. Radi se samo o tome da mi se sviđa vidjeti kako žene nose suknje i haljine češće. Ono što mi se sviđa još više je to da sada haljine i suknje dolaze u puno raznih stilova i dužina: olovka ili široki kroj, dužina iznad,  do ili ispod koljena, a tu su i jako uske haljine (takozvane bodycon) i one u bohemskom ili princeza stilu...što god vam padne na pamet, možete to pronaću u dućanu, virtualnom ili stvarnom.

One of the things I love seeing is when dresses and skirts get worn in a casual way. I see many of my blogging buddies doing this and I always love it when they rock those kind of outfits (you know who you are!). Styling feminine items in casual way is not that difficult.  All you need is to layered them with a leather jacket (or some other cool casual item) and wear comfortable shoes (sneakers, flats) as opposed to more dressed up options (heels, stilettos).  I must say that I always feel more feminine when I'm wearing a skirt or a dress. Not that I think these items should be reserved for us ladies (yet in West they often are). I actually think that it is cute when man are bold enough to wear either of the two. 
Jedna od stvari koju stvarno volim vidjeti je kada se suknje i haljine nose na ležeran način. Vidim dosta blogerica koje to rade i kada nose takve odjevne kombinacije baš mi ih je gušt vidjeti (znate o kome se radi:). Zapravo se ti neki ženstveni odjevni komadi daju lako pretvoriti u ležerne kombinaciji. Sve što trebate je obući kožnu jaknu (ili neki slični ležerni komad) preko i nositi udobne cipele (tenisice i ravne cipele), za razliku od onih sređenih cipela (visokih peta i štikli). Ja moram reći da se uvijek osjećam nekako ženstvenije kada nosim haljinu ili suknju. Ne da mislim da bi ovi odjevni komadi trebali biti rezervirani samo za nas dame (iako na zapadu nekako i jesu). Mislim da je slatko kada se muškarci odvaže pa nose nešto takvo. 

She Walks in Beauty

Related Poem Content Details

She walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 
And all that’s best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 
Thus mellowed to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
Had half impaired the nameless grace 
Which waves in every raven tress, 
Or softly lightens o’er her face; 
Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!


*no special reason for citing his poem, I just love Byron so much and that love sometimes needs an outlet. I do imagine Byron's beautiful cousin (the one that inspired this poem, forgot her name) wearing a blue dress (or maybe I read it somewhere and it is actually true that she was wearing a blue dress when he saw her) so in some sense it is connected with the theme of this post. You could even go so far and say that is where a part of inspiration came from.

What about you ladies (and possibly also gentlemen)? What is your favourite way of wearing dresses and/or skirts? Do you wear them often? Do you find them practical? What is your preferred length when it comes to skirts and dresses? I think that in the more recent past, we started to associate skirt and dresses with formal looks (or business attire) or reserved them for special occasions. Fortunately this is changed and now we're all daring to wear these items more often and finding ways to style them on daily basis. This is not hard to do actually. I truly believe that every women can find a dress or skirt that would make her feel comfortable. It is just a matter of finding what material, length and cut works best for you. Try a bunch of them on and see how you feel. Winter months should put you off. I mean tights and leggings are as warm as jeans and often (depending on how thick they are) they can actually be a lot warmer.

Što vi dame ( a možda i gospoda) kažete? Koji je vaš najdraži način nošenja haljina i suknji? Nosite li ih često? Jesu li vam praktične? Koja je vaša najdraža duljina kada su one u pitanju? Mislim da smo u nedavnoj prošlosti nekako počeli suknje i haljine povezivati s formalnom osjećom (ili onom za posao) ili bi ih čuvali za posebne prigode. Srećom to se sve promijenilo i sada se usuđujemo nositi ove predmete češće pa pronalazimo načine kako bi ih uklopili u svakodnevno odijevanje.  To i nije tako tešlp. Stvarno vjerujem da svaka žena može pronaći haljinu ili suknju u kojoj će se osjećati ugodno. Samo je u pitanju izbor materijala, dužine i kroja koji vam najbolje odgovara. Probajte ih dosta i vidite kako se osjećate. Zima vas tu ne bi trebala omesti jer najlonke, tajice i gege su jednako tople kao i traperice, a ovisno o njihovoj debljini mogu biti deblje od traperice i zato i toplije.

This illustration (from a strict technical point of view it is actually a painting because the medium is aquarelle) was created on a paper. I drawn the sketch in pencil and then I used watercolours to fill it in. I added some finishing touches with a brown marker (such as eyebrows, hands and chin) because I forgot to bought a really thin brush ( I need to do that). I will probably be uploading a YouTube video of this illustration soon enough.  I don't want to sound immodest but I really love this painting. Both the outfit I illustrated and the girl seem somehow right. My fashion illustrations are never really just sketches for clothes. I hardly ever make clothes myself. It is more that I'm trying to convey what clothes feel like- and put it on paper. Yes, that's what I'm trying to do. I think this time  I actually came close, so good for me.

Ova ilustracija (strogo tehnički gledano radi se o slici jer je u pitanju akvarel) je stvorena na papiru. Nacrtala sam skicu olovkom i onda sam koristila vodene boje da bi je popunila. Dodala sam neke završne poteze smeđim markerom (obrve, ruke i bradu) jer sam zaboravila kupiti onaj jako tanki kist koji mi treba za to (moram se sjetiti toga sutra kada budem u galeriji). Vjerovatno ću uskoro i na YouTube kanalu prenijeti ovu ilustraciju. Ne želim zvučati neskromno ali baš mi se sviđa ova slika. Nekako mi se i odjevna kombinacija i djevojka čine kako treba. Moje modne ilustracije nikada nisu samo skice za odjeću. Jako rijetko sama šivam zapravo. Više se radi o tome da pokušavam izraziti kakav nam osjećaj daje odjeća- i to staviti na papir. To pokušavam napravim. Mislim da sam ovaj put došla blizu, tako da dobro za mene.

                                                 LET'S CONNECT:




nedjelja, 4. prosinca 2016.

Inspired by / Nadahnuta s.....

Hi darlings! How are you? I'm feeling better, I think I might be getting over the darn virus. Today is a time for another Inspired by post, which reminds me...You know very soon it will be time for an  annual round up of my fashion illustrations inspired by bloggers. I'm really looking forward to that recap. I'm not sure how many bloggers I have illustrated this year, I usually do at least one illustration per month, so it will interesting to count them all. Would you be interested in seeing me do a video post about them?

Anyhow, today's illustration is watercolour and pencils on papers. It is inspired by a Portuguese blogger,  Miguel Gouvera from Pieces of me blog (check it out here). This illustration was inspired by outfit of his. This styling is pretty much everything I love the most about casual Autumn outfits: leather jackets, layering (shirt+ sweater) and jeans. That's all for today folks! See you tomorrow.

Zdravo dragi moji! Kako ste? Ja se osjećam bolje, izgleda da ludi virus ipak prolazi. Danas je vrijeme ja još jednu Nadahnuta s objavu, što me podsjeća na to da će uskoro biti vrijeme za godišnji pregled svih mojih modnih ilustracija nadahnutih blogerima i baš se tome veselim. Nisam sigurna koliko sam blogera ilustrirala ove godine, obično napravim barem jednu ilustraciju mjesečno, pa biti će ih zanimljivo prebrojiti. Biste li voljeli da o tome napravim video objavu? 

Kakogod, današnja ilustracija je akvarel i olovka na papiru. Nadahnuta je portugalskim blogerom Miguelom Gouverom s bloga Pieces of me (možete ga posjetiti ovdje). Ova ilustracija je nadahnuta jednom njegovom odjevnom kombinacijom. Ovaj stil je upravo ono što mi se najviše sviđa kod ležernih jesenskih kombinacija: kožne jakne, slojevito odijevanje (košulja + džemper) i traperice. To je sve za danas! Vidimo se sutra.

subota, 3. prosinca 2016.

Illustration of the day (Nature and us) / Ilustracija dana (Priroda i mi)

Good evening everyone! How are you? I'm sharing this illustration even though I haven't quite finished it. What I found most helpful in terms of productivity as a hobby artist is being consistent. I like everyone else obviously don't have entire days to devote only to painting. So what I do is that  when I don't have the time or the energy to do a proper painting, I try to set apart some time to do a sketch or a doodle. Because really you never know when a doodle or a sketch can be turned into a painting. In anything you do in life, if you invest time constantly, even if it is five minutes a day, you're likely to do some results. For example, if you're working on some creative project. Even if you set only a small portion of your time to spent on it, you might end up figuring it all out and finishing it earlier than you thought it was possible. How? Even if all you have to give is five minutes of work, those five minutes might make the subject linger in your mind and make you think about it. Once you're thinking about it, you might come up with more ideas. So, that's my tip of the day as far as creative hobby activities go. A little bit goes a long way. One minute a day doing what you like can sometimes make a difference. I suppose it can be applied to other areas as well. Anyhow, I've been working on loads of illustrations today. I managed to finish some of them, but now all. Some of them you might see tomorrow (if I manage to find the time to post them). 

Today I broke out of my routine a bit. I spent some time watching TV today, which is something I rarely do. Not because I think that TV is bad, it is just that ever since I started blogging, I had to cut down on at least some time-consuming habits and I guess TV was the first thing to go. The two of us (both sick his fever is way higher) ended up watching one program about animal friendship. It was quite nice, watching TV for a change. Anyhow, there was this farm cat that had her kittens the same day as some ducklings hatched. The owners of the farm were afraid that the cat ate them but they discovered that the cat has in fact adopted them and was keeping them warm. The ducklings were nestled in cat’s lap together with her kittens (there was no mom duck in the picture because the farmers just bought the eggs).  It was so funny once the ducklings got bigger and more active and the cat was all super protective so she kept returning them to the box. She would grab them by the neck and carry them back to the box where she was nursing her kittens and she couldn’t understand why the ducklings won’t stay still. Naturally, the ducklings were only following their instincts to go about and search for food because they are born ready to find food for themselves.  Anyhow, the ducklings eventually became grown ducks but they are still very attached to their surrogate mother. It is one happy farm. 

Was it all instinct? I don’t think so. I think that animals are capable of genuine friendship and affection. Alright, perhaps not all of them. I don’t think that spiders can have complex emotions, but all higher animals are capable of it. If you look at the behaviour of apes, you’ll be amazed at how similar they can be to us. Not just apes. In this show (forgot its name but it was aired today on Viasat nature if you want to look it up), there was also this example of a cappuccino monkey that adopted an orphan baby monkey of another specie and spent the rest of her life caring for it. Her baby was adopted into the cappuccino community and there is actual footage of it taking the food of a cappuccino male monkey and he is allowing it get away with it- not something that is common at all. How to explain it? These cappuccino monkeys have no benefit of feeding and caring for this little creature. They know it is not a member of their specie, but still they protect it and feed it. One could be a cynic and say that it is because this other species is smaller than them so they don’t feel threatened but that doesn’t really explain it. 

markers on paper/ markeri na papiru
I will never remember watching another documentary about a young boy who got lost in the woods.  I don’t remember whether it was in SAD or Canada, but it was one of those two countries. Anyhow, he was all alone in the forest when a herd of reindeer gathered around him. He kept shouting and throwing stones at them but they just kept their distance and stayed near him. Eventually the child grew tired and slept on the dirt. In the morning when the rescue team found him, there was no snow around him even though it was snowing heavily all the night. The reason why there was no snow around him is because once he was asleep the herd protected him from the snow with their bodies. The entire herd kept him warm and slept in a circle around him. Had they not done that, the child would die of hypothermia. The point of all this? I believe in miracles. In love. I believe we all (not just humans but animals as well) are more than a sum of our instincts. We’re more than that, we can be more than that and we should be more than that. We should never be too old to believe in miracles because they happen. All we need to see them is to open our eyes. 

petak, 2. prosinca 2016.

November : Summary/ Studeni: Sažetak

I'm a bit late, but better late than never, right? So here it is, a quick November summary, just in case you missed out on something. In terms of my illustrations, it has been a very productive month indeed. We also had a few books reviews and even one documentary review (here). Bye, bye November and welcome December! This December I'll probably be posting even more illustrations, so if that is what you like stay posted. Generally speaking, I'm quite happy with this blog. It really feels like a little virtual place of my own.

Malo kasnim, ali bolje kasno, nego nikad, zar ne? Tako da danas dijelim s vama brzi pogled studenoga, u slučaju da ste nešto propustili. Što se tiče ilustracija, mjesec je bio vrlo produktivan. Imali smo i nekoliko ogleda knjiga, a čak i jednu recenziju dokumentarca (ovdje). Doviđenja studenome i dobrodošao prosincu! Ovoga prosinca planiram objavljivati još više ilustracija, pa ako vam se to sviđa, navratite. U globalu, zadovoljna sam ovim blogom. Baš imam osjećaj da je moje posebno virtualno mjesto.

                                                 LET'S CONNECT:



Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis (book recommendation)

This is a story about a woman who escaped slavery in year 2000. Yes, you read that right. In this century. It was co-written by journalist Damien Lewis who basically wrote down what Mende told him so it's still a narration of her life (just a co-written one). The story itself is written in the first person and it feels like an autobiography. Mende, a girl from Nabu tribe in Sudan, was sold into slavery to a rich Arab family in year 1992, when she was only 12 years old. Hers is a true story, not fiction. Sadly but her case is not solitary. At this very moment several Arabic countries are known to keep black African slaves (more than 140, 000 people in Mauritania according to official records, but some estimate this number to be as high as half a million or even more). Slavery became criminalized in Mauritania only in 2007, but there has been only one conviction so far. In 2002 Mauritania was chosen as the preceding nation by UN Human Rights Council. Yes, five years BEFORE it criminalized slavery it was chosen as its (UN HRC) vice president. Why am I writing all of these facts down? Because this is not just some book, it is also a true story and a warning. What happened to Mende is happening to many African woman and man. As amazed I'm by the spirit and the strength of this woman and her survival, as much as I would like to talk about her personally and about what her story/book meant to me, I think we owe it to her to listen to other stories as well- and do our own research. That is what she wants us to do. That is why she has been an activist ever since she regained her freedom. That is why Mende Nazer has continued to risk her life- not only to tell her story but to speak for other victims of slavery as well. To find out the truth that nobody wants to talk about. The truth that there are slaves around us right now, they might even live next to you and you wouldn't even know it.

Ovo je priča o ženi koja je pobjegla iz ropstva godine 2000. Dobro ste to pročitali. U ovome stoljeću. Pomogao ju je napisati Damien Lewis koji je u biti zapisao životnu priču Mande onako kako mu je ona ispričala, tako da je priča zapravo napisana u prvom licu. To je zapravo autobiografija, ali imala je pomoć pri pisanju. Mende, djevojku iz Nabu plemena u Sudanu, prodali su bogatoj arapskoj obitelji 1992.godine., kada je imala samo 12 godina. Njezina priča je istinita, nije fikcija. Njen slučaj nažalost nije usamljen. U ovome trenutku zna se da neke arapske države drže crne robove (prema istraživanjima u Mauritaniji ima više od 140, 000 robova, no neki pretpostavljaju da ih ima više od pola milijuna). Robstvo je u Mauritaniji kriminalizirano tek 2007.godine, no dosada je samo jedna osoba osuđena zbog njega. Mauritanija je 2002.godine. izabrana kao predsjedajuća nacija od strane UN i njihovoga koncila za ljudska prava. Da, pet godina prije nego što je kriminalizirala robstvo izabrana je na tu visoku funckiju pri UN. Zašto pišem sve ove činjenice? Zato što ovo nije tek neka knjiga, to je istinita priča i upozorenje. Što se događa Mende događa se brojnim afričkim ženama i muškarcima. Koliko god me zadivljuje njen duh i snaga i koliko bi voljela pričati o njoj osobno i onome što mi je njena knjiga i priča značila, mislim da joj dugujemo da poslušamo i druge priče- i sami istražimo ovu problematiku. To je ono što ona želi da napravimo. Zbog toga je aktivistica otkada je postala slobodna. Zato Mende Nazer nastavlja riskirati svoj život- ne samo da bi nam rekla svoju priču već da pričala o žrtvama ropstva. Da saznamo istinu o kojoj nitko ne želi pričati. Istinu da ima robova oko nas upravo sada, možda žive do vas, a vi to ne znate.

 Slavery is a reality of our times. If you're wondering how it is possible that people used to own slaves and nobody did anything about it, don't wonder because the same thing is happening today. It was in year 2000 in London that Mende was sent to throw away the trash. She was not normally allowed to exit the house where she was held as a house slave, but this domestic chore was an exception. At this point, she was held as a slave for 8 years and suffered unimaginable abuse. Somehow her spirit was not broken.  She found the strength in herself to address a black man she saw on the street, a stranger, somebody she never saw before. It was not a small feat of courage. She said hello to him and it turned out that he was Sudanese too. This  man, with the help of other people, will help her regain her life.  The family that owned her had many connection in the government and Mende barely managed to escape them. She was almost sent back to Sudan to her original slave owning family. In this century. In modern day London. A women who was a slave barely managed to get away from her slave masters, even when the truth got out. Imagine that. You know what the irony of this is? If she had ran off to police, they would have probably just returned her to that family because she couldn't explain it to them- not being able to speak in English and perhaps it wouldn't mattered if she did speak it, because the family that owned her is so influential politically. It was only by luck that she meet a man who was willing not only to fight for her but to have his friends who were journalist and political activist fight for her. Mende only barely made it. Imagine her courage at that moment. The risk was so great and the chances of success so small, but she did it- seized the first opportunity for freedom that life gave her. Imagine her courage for all those years. Imagine her courage now. She is not running away from her traumatic past, she is using her voice to help others.

Robstvo je realnost našega doba. Ako se pitate kako je moguće da su ljudi nekad držali robove i nitko nije ništa poduzimao, nemojte se pitati jer se ista stvar događa i danas. Bilo je to 2000. godine. kada su Mende poslali da baci smeće. Nije inače smjela izlaziti iz kuće, ali ovaj kućanski posao bio je iznimka. Do toga trenutka, već je bila robinja osam godina i podnijela je nezamisljivo zlostavljanje. Nekako njen duh nije bio slomljen. Pronašla je snage da se obrati crncu koji joj je išao u u susret, strancu, nekome koga nikada prije nije vidjela. Nije to bila mala hrabrost. Rekla mu je zdravo i ispalo je da je i on iz Sudana. Taj čovjek će joj uz pomoć drugih ljudi pomoći da povrati svoj život. Obitelj koja ju je podsjedovala imala je puno veza u vladi i Mende se jedva uspjela izvući. Skoro su je poslali u Sudan obitelji koja ju je posjedovala u početku. U ovom stoljeću. U modernom Londonu. Žena koja je bila robinja jedva je uspjela pobjeći robovlasnicima i to čak kada je istina bila poznata. Zamislite to. Znate li koja je ironija toga? Da je pobjegla policiji, vjerovatno bi je vratoli toj obitelji jer ne bi mogla objasniti svoj položaj jer nije znala engleski, a možda ne bi bilo drukčije ni da ga je znala, jer je obitelj koja ju je posjedovala tako politički utjecajna. Samo je sretnim stjecajem okolnosti srela čovjeka koji je bio spreman ne samo boriti se za nju nego je imao i prijatelje koji su bili novinari i politički aktivisti i koji su mogli nešto poduzeti za nju. Mende je jedva uspjela. Zamislite njenu hrabrost u tom trenutku. Rizik je bio tako velik, a šanse za uspjeh tako male, ali ona je riskirala- zgrabila je prvu priliku za slobodu koju joj je život pružio. Zamislite njenu hrabrost svih tih godina. Zamislite njenu hrabrost sada.  Ne bježi od svoje traumatične prošlosti, ona koristi svoj glas da bi pomogla drugima.

As difficult as this book was to read, it was also uplifting because every step of the way I was admiring Mende. Her love for her tribe, her language, her culture is so inspiring. Her strength. Imagine what inner strength she must have possessed to even survive! To be taken to a slave owning family when she was a child herself, to be beaten for wanting to do what every child wants to do- play with other children. To have to watch children play while she had to work, every day, all day. All those years of abuse, severe physical abuse and she doesn't even hate her abusers. She points out her abusers for what they were, but she doesn't seem to hate them. Of the women who held her a slave for years Mende says- she had the most beautiful hair I have ever seen. Mende says this of a  women who almost beat her to death. A women who beat her so severely that Mende almost bled to death and had to be hospitalized for days. When Mende arrived to this family, as a raped and orphaned child of 12, she must have excepted some kind of sympathy from this women. But she couldn't have been more wrong, for it was this women who abused her for years. The husband never really came anywhere near her. This is what I find so hard to understand. That a women who is a mother (and a mother of children almost the same age as Mende) was doing this to her in front of the eyes of her children. Who knows if that women has got herself a new slave? I hope not, but I can't really tell for sure, can I?

Koliko god je ova knjiga bila teška za čitati, bila je također i motivirajuća jer sam se u toj cijeloj priči divila Mende. Njena ljubav prema svome plemenu, svome jeziku, svojoj kulturi je tako nadahnujuća. Njena snaga. Zamislite kolika je njena snaga morala biti! Odvedena u robstvo u robovlasničku obitelj, tukli su je jer je željela napraviti ono što svako dijete želi napraviti- igrati se s drugom djecom. Morala je gledati djecu kako se igraju dok je ona radila svaki dan i cijeli dan. Sve te godine zlostavljanja, a ona čak i ne mrzi svoje zlostavljače. Pokazuje što su bili, ali u njenom govoru nema mržnje. O ženi koja ju je godinama zlostavljala ona kaže da nikad nije vidjela nekoga s ljepšom kosom. Ženi koja ju je toliko tukla da je skoro iskrvarila na smrt i morala je dane provesti u bolnici. Kada je kao silovana djevojčica stigla ovoj ženi sigurno se nadala nekom suosjećanju. No, prevarila se. Ta žena koja je uz to i majka djece skoro istih godina je bila glavni zlostavljač. Njen muž je bio distanciran od Mende, žena je bila ta koja ju je svakodnevno tukla i maltetirala. Žena koja je majka je to činila jednom djetetu pred očima svoje djece. To nikako ne mogu razumijeti. Tko zna ima li ta žena sada neku novu robinju? Nadam se da ne, ali to ne mogu znati zasigurno, zar ne?

This was a hard book to read but I'm glad that I did read it. Reading books like this one makes one take the issue of slavery to heart. Understanding what slavery is emotionally is as important as understanding it  from an intellectual point of view. I never reread this book because even thinking about it makes me cry, but I took its message to heart. I want to thank Mende for being so brave and filled with love. It is people like her that make me believe there is hope and that we must never let despair take over us. Because even after all those years living in such horrible circumstances, being treated as less than a dog, Mende didn't lose her identity, her culture, her intelligence, her wit and the essence of what she was. In those extreme conditions, she continued living and growing. Mende was denied education, but she has grown wise. She was denied love, but she has grown loving. She was denied freedom, but in her heart she was free. She was not treated as human, but she became more than human. More human than any of her abusers will ever be. Mende carries her people, their tradition and their identity in her heart. They  burned her village, raped and enslaved her but they haven't destroyed her spirit and her innocence. When she was a little girl, she wanted to be a doctor so that she could help people. Today she is helping people in her way. Take a look at her smile at the back of the book. She is a doctor, just a different kind of doctor. A doctor for souls. 

Ovu knjigu nije bilo lako za pročitati, ali mi je drago što sam je pročitala. Čitanje ovakvih knjiga nam pomaže da shvatimo sav užas robstva svojim srcem, a ne samo sa gledišta intelekta, što je važno jer trebamo uključiti i srce i mozak u ovu problematiku.  Nikada nisam ponovo pročitala ovu knjigu jer čak i kada razmišljam o njoj, suze same dođu, ali primila sam njenu poruku srcu. Želim se zahvaliti Mende što je tako hrabra i puna ljubavi. Zbog ljudi kao što je ona vjerujem da ima nade i da se nikad ne smijemo prepustiti očaju. Sve te godine Mende je živjela  u tako groznim uvjetima, tretirali su je kao manje od psa, a nekako nije izgubila svoj identitet, svoju inteligenciju, svoju oštroumnost.  U tim ekstremnim okolnostima ona je nastavila živjeti i rasti. Nisu joj dali priliku da se školuje, ali je svejedno postala mudra. Osporavali su joj čovječnost, ali ona je postala više čovjek nego što će ikada biti svi oni zajedno. Mende nosi svoje ljude, svoju  i njihovu tradiciju i  identitet u svome srcu. Spalili su joj selo, silovali je i prodali u ropstvo, ali joj nisu oduzeli njen duh i njenu nevinost. Kada je bila djevojčica, željela je biti doktorica i pomagati ljudima. Danas pomaže ljudima na svoj način. Pogledajte njen osmijeh na poleđini knjige. Danas je ona doktorica, ali drukčija doktorica, ona koja pomaže dušama.