My Heroes: Leena

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VP_LeenanLeimat

One of my creative heroes is Leena, my partner’s cousin. Not only is she one of the kindest persons I know, she has her own style of everything pink and cute (or kawaii, as they say in Japanese). It makes finding presents for her rather easy and fun! One Christmas we got her this über cute, pink bling-bling ornament for the tree. Sadly I can’t remember what kind of a figure it was but it was pink with lots of sparkle. To keep things in balance and to prevent her pink Christmas tree (surprised, you shouldn’t be) from becoming overly pink, we gave her partner a glass squirrel. A very cute too but brown. But don’t be fooled by all her pinky, fluffy stuff. She’ll kick your butt in action games on Wii.

Leena makes these awesome, creative and happy cards for every occasion she can think of. It’s so much fun to wait for her card to arrive when it gets close to my or my partner’s birthday to see what she has come up with this time. Her cards always bright up my day! Thanks Leena!

But what I admire in her even more is her courage to be true to herself and her style. It’s a rare thing in this world.

I did the page last summer on the Saturday of our traditional summer family reunion at her dad’s place at the seaside. Lots of sun every years and lots of loitering on the beach. The others were playing a board game called Carcassonne but I had had my fair share of the game for that day. A great game, don’t get me wrong, but I decided to go through Leena’s amazing stash of arts and crafts stuff. There I found these stamps. I really liked the ones with cartoon-style Japanese motifs – especially the lanterns – so I printed some images on the right-hand page. On the left I freehanded one stamp of a series of birds that were really pretty and poetic. The spread felt a little empty or too still so I added the ‘stains’ to spark it up. Really enjoyed doing this and leafing through Leena’s stamps. There were so many beautiful ones I would have liked to include!

Creative Heroes: Tommy Kane & 23thorns

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VP_aardvark

I happen to think that aardvark is possibly the funniest word of the English language. Yeah, yeah, strictly speaking it is not English but borrowed from Afrikaans ‘erdwark’. In Finnish it was know as maasika, ‘earth pig’ which happens to be a direct translation from Afrikaans, until the Committee for Mammal Names decided that it was misleading since the animal is not related to pigs at all. In stead, they suggested, it should be called termiitiikaivaja, the termite digger, which certainly does make sense except that aren’t there other animals, absolutely unrelated to aardvarks, that dig for termites too? I don’t know what Spock would say about this, but it doesn’t sound only logical to me.

I drew the aardvark after a picture in 23thorns’s amazingly funny and informative blog about life in South Africa. Now, of course, I can’t find the exact post about the critter, but he shared some really interesting information on the matter. You would guess right from looks of the critter that aardvarks are not runners but did you know that they can dig like no other? Even 2 feet in 15 seconds! Thanks to you, 23thorns, I have learned a lot about South African (wild) life that I previously had absolutely no knowledge about! I need to buy you that beer some day.

The other creative hero inspiring my drawings in this style is Tommy Kane, an artist (yes, you are!) from New York. I love his free flowing, quirky drawings. And the little stories he tells! Hihii! I also like the fact that Tommy is not afraid to take stand but posts drawings with political and other opinions. Check out his Vimeo account too. I like especially this one about his trip to Vietnam. So thank you, Tommy, for helping to loosen up my expression. Seeing your stuff always lightens up my day. 🙂 Would by you a beer too but you don’t seem to have a button for it on your blog.

The Coolest Thing to See in The Kon-Tiki Museum Is…

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VP_Kon-tiki

… this scull with a picture of a fish carved into its forehead. It’s from the Easter Islands and they suspect that it probably is the scull of a shaman or a tribal leader. Why else would you carve a fish into it? Of course it must be some how special but maybe it was made special by carving the fish into it and not the other way round. But who knows. This is the handicap of archeology: there are seldom eyewitnesses around to tell us what the heck it is that we just unearthed.

I mentioned the Kon-Tiki Museum in the previous post but it’s such a special museum that it deserves to get a post of its own. Kon-Tiki is the name of the balsa raft the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his crew used to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1947 just to prove that the South American cultures could have sailed all the way to the west across the ocean. Heyerdahl did a similar trip a cross the Atlantic on the Ra II made out of papyrus reeds to prove that you could do that with ancient Egyptian technology. The first Ra didn’t make it. The second proved the point. Heyerdahl had other adventures too but these are the famous ones. Not only did he prove that you could manage such journeys using ancient technology but his crew collected a lot of data about the state of the oceans during their travels. The dark, stone-looking lumps of oil on display in the museum are –. Well, let’s just say that they do make you think. Anyhow, the rafts are pretty awesome too and the exhibitions are breath taking.

But I have to admit, sculls and skeletons and any human remains in museums make me wonder if they really should be there. After all, they once used to be living persons. This scull, though, might be a slightly different thing since it used to be some kind of a ritual object so you could argue that it didn’t come from a burial. I don’t think its exactly okay to put on display human remains without the exact permission from the deceased or her/his relatives. But what about the mummies and other burials of ancient, long gone cultures? Burials are often the only thing or at least the most informative thing left of their lives.

The drawing is from my notes for my dissertation on museum exhibition architecture. You can’t always draw spaces and display structures. You gotta have your occasional scull there too.

Time Warping on the Fram

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VP_FramA

The last day of the Aesthetics conference in Oslo was a full working day followed by the conference dinner later in the evening so I saw an opportunity to stay in Oslo for an extra day. There may be no late, late night flights from Oslo to Helsinki but that’s besides the point. Who would want to drag their well nourished mind and body over to the airport in the middle of the night? So I had the Sunday to see what I had not yet seen in the Norwegian capital.

I had intended to revisit the Kon-tiki Museum – and it is a Great Place for Drawing you should go – but the last minute I decided against it and turned left to the Fram Museum. All I knew about the place was that it was a maritime museum that had won some big prize for its exhibition design. That’s it. The name sounded vaguely familiar but that was it. It doesn’t look like much from the outside (see the link, it really doesn’t) but I already had dragged myself to the Bygdøy peninsula (all the maritime museums of Oslo are there) so I went in. Was I in for a surprise!

The museum is practically built around the polar exploration ship Fram, launched in 1892 and the first ship built especially for polar explorations and to withstand getting stuck into the pack ice without getting crushed. It’s not a big ship, its one of the points of building an ship that can can withstand the contact with polar ice, but it is formidable. It is massive. Its hull bulks out in a different curvature than any other ship I have seen so far. It smells of wood tar like a proper ship ought to, and you can board it. You can walk on the deck, go bellow, all the way down to the engine room where it still reeks of diesel and oil and tar. The explorers – Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup – planned out their three year expedition very, very carefully. So carefully, in fact, that the crew actually gained much weight during the voyage, not something that usually happens when its freezing outside and you’re drifting with the pack ice across the arctic sea. Somehow it felt like all that planning and care and the voyages themselves had got imprinted into ship itself. As if you could feel the enthusiasm and excitement of the crew, the arctic weather, the force of the ice when you’re below deck, the swell of the ocean under the ship when you are on the deck. Literally, I felt really weird when I first boarded the Fram and it took me some time to realise that my body thought that the ship was moving.

They have a pretty cool multimedia show running in the exhibition hall with enticing sounds and changing lights, but I don’t know. The ship felt like alive somehow. As if it had got stuck into two timelines: still partly out there in the polar seas, partly here and now in the museum.

You should go there, really. My only warning is that you might want to go early in the day especially if you want to draw. It’s a fairly tightly packed museum and one of the regular tour sites, so when the tour buses arrive it can get congested. But if you are ever in Oslo, go. I mean it.

Oh, BTW, while Photoshopping the scan I pressed the wrong buttons at one point and accidentally turned the picture into a negative. Look’s fun and interesting, or what?

VP_FramB

Evan Thompson

Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia

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