Leon Bakst: painter & costume designer

This is an artist I discovered as an offshoot of my research into Czech illustrators. Leon Bakst (1866-1924) was a Russian painter and set and costume designer.

“Beginning in 1909 Bakst worked mostly as a stage-designer, designing sets for Greek tragedies, and in 1908 made a name as a scene-painter for Diaghilev with the Ballets Russes (Cleopatra (1909), Scheherazade (1910), Carnaval (1910), Narcisse (1911), Le Spectre de la rose (1911), Daphnis et Chloé (1912)).”


(  http://www.artinthepicture.com/paintings/Leon_Bakst/Narcisse-Cover/ )

( http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leon_Bakst_002.jpg )

( http://tars.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/bakst.jpg )

( http://www.art-deco-in-art.org/Sketch-for-the-ballet-‘La-Peri’,–1911-large.html )


Spotlight: Czech illustrators

This is part two of the spotlight series focusing on Czech artists and designers, part of my current project at university, the Extended Major Project (EMP). I am looking into Czech art and design to get a feel of the visual styles and trends used. A bit of a reconnecting with my roots if you like. So here is a collection of various illustrators I have come across. Some already familiar to me and dearly remembered from childhood, while others I’m seeing for the first time. I’ve come across a lot of brilliant work this way and not all of it is relevant to my project, but that’s why I’m putting it all up here, so that nothing is lost.

“Udel Nadani” – Czech Documentary Opportunity (Continues 4)

Just returned to Bournemouth today, here’s a recap of the rest of the events on my trip….

On March 23rd (Tuesday) I travelled to Zlin which took about 3-4 hours each way, there and back. Soon after noon I reached Zlin and met the documentary maker for the interview. The interview lasted a surprising four hours and took place in her home. I came prepared with my laptop to show my work and a collection of photos I had taken from photo albums on Sunday and Monday (my preparation days). Right from the start she was very friendly and tried to make me comfortable around her despite and her tape recorder, and set a very informal mood. I think that my success or failure in this interview greatly depended on her. I had prepared to either pitch a little intro about myself, or to potentially let her lead the conversation, depending on what the situation required. Something that can transfer quite well to the type of meetings you can get in the industry. Or more immediately, what may happen in my MA interviews! So this is like a warm-up round to those but in a different language, which makes it twice as challenging for me. I think that if I can accomplish this, it will put my mind to rest a bit about handling MA interviews in London.

She took charge and off the bat outlined how she would like the interview to proceed. She reiterated a few key points again about what he documentary was and basically set out the main theme: that I should image I am directing it, how would I do it, what would I film? This was the general guideline we returned back to time and time again after following tangents or just letting the conversation develop – impromptu questions and so on.

I think that we truly had an understanding and that her vision for her documentary gelled very well with what I brought to the table. By the end we were simply chatting like friends, the fact that it was an interview was almost forgotten. The interview ended the way I had predicted. She could not give me a yes or no answer right away because there were still other interviews she needed to conduct first in order to bring the auditions to a close.

Nonetheless on the trip back I felt an immense sense of accomplishment. I thought that no matter what happened from here on out, I had really had a personal breakthrough. This had been my first ever professional-ish interview in Czech!!! I also believe that I had completely outshone my expectation of myself. I felt I had truly put in 110%, defying the odds and obstacles, and simply giving my best. Wednesday was simply a recuperation and packing day and then on Thursday I was travelling again, this time back to Bournemouth.

“Udel Nadani” – Czech Documentary Opportunity (Continues 3)

On Wednesday I emailed my tutors to update them on the whole “Udel Nadani” documentary opportunity (see ECP&E folder work for more). Unfortunately my original illness was added to by a few more complications which left me in bed for the entire week, even missing the formative assessment. I made an attempt mid-week to go in for the book-binding session but right before it started I simply had to admit defeat and go back home again. I truly wasn’t feeling well enough. In the email I also informed my tutors of my upcoming trip to Prague, that it couldn’t wait and yes I would inevitably be missing more time, but hoped for their understanding. If the documentary actually happened it would be good promotion for the course because they would want to film here for a day or two. By the time I would get back from Prague it will basically be Easter. This really isn’t an ideal arrangement but there is no way around it. I think I would regret it for a long time if I turned this opportunity down.

A lot of sleep, medicine and rest later I did manage to make my flight to Prague on Saturday. Though I basically collapsed that evening after a long day of travel. I had intentionally allowed myself Sunday and Monday as two full days of preparation and revision. I rummaged through all the photo albums, collecting photos which showed landmarks in my life, artistic development, and travels. And most importantly I tried to immerse myself in the Czech language by watching the news and listening to the radio whenever I could and also staging mock interviews with my relatives. Through many of these I noted down certain words or phrases which often evaded my tongue. They also helped me translate many of my notes, originally in English, which I needed to say in Czech. I should point out, that I can actually speak Czech just fine once I get back into the swing of things. These two days were meant to be an intense crash course of something that would naturally come to me in a week. I rarely get to speak Czech while at uni, which is no surprise. I only have the odd Czech movie or once a week/fortnight phone conversation with my parents to keep the language alive. I want to make the best impression I can during the interview and I think that if anything would let me down, it would be having what I want to say in my head but being unable to say it correctly in Czech, if at all. That’s my worst fear which has been kindly fostered by Czech people who meet me, find out I have grown up abroad, and proceed to talk loudly and slowly at me. A give me little pitying looks that just spell out ‘the poor thing can’t help it’. Though they fail to realize I understand them perfectly…though a few very technical or archaic terms do evade me.

I’ve been re-reading my notes and the written ‘confession’ I originally wrote up every night, I think I am as prepared as I can get within the time I have. Tomorrow’s the big day – Tuesday the 23rd of March.

“Udel Nadani” – Czech Documentary Opportunity (Continues 2)

The next hurdle, once I regained some common sense from dregs of my ill self, was that if I was to pursue this course of action I would need to move very quickly. Easter is around the corner, less then two weeks away, so I was of the view that surely the interview with the documentary maker could wait. Argument ensued of course and my parents won on the point that clearly, from her email, there wasn’t much time. I grudgingly agreed. If I really wanted this to succeed I would need to go as soon as possible – within a week. Similarly to a client not waiting on a designers, I could not let her wait on me otherwise I ran the risk of missing my opportunity. She could easily pass it on to one of the many other candidates who would be more accommodating to her time scale.

Having spent the past few days ill in bed, I did not relish the thought of losing even more time on my project and tutorials. But in the end, the long terms pros of what this opportunity could offer outweighed the cons of the immediate impact on my course work. Furthermore I hoped I could regain a lot of ground during Easter – I remember how beneficial the Easter holidays were for me last year when I decided to stay and work on uni work rather then take a break. So today I emailed the documentary maker and she approved the date of the interview. Right away I booked my tickets last minute – to travel to Prague this coming Saturday. I just hope I can get better by then.

Building a Portfolio site… with the help of Themes

A bunch of lovely WordPress themes I just came across that may end up being a livesaver in my attempts to build a portfolio site in the near future. They are all from ThemeForest
















“Udel Nadani” – Czech Documentary Opportunity (Continues)

Today I received the reply from the lady whose directing the documentary. She’s very pleased with the written piece I did and is sure we can discuss it all more thoroughly in person when I go to meet her in person in Zlin. She finishes on the note that she will be ending the audition/competition soon and that I should let her know when it would be possible for me to make the journey.

At this point I began to baulk at the whole idea of the documentary because it finally sunk in that it was getting quite real. I began to have terrifying visions along the lines of being stalked night and day by a paparazzi type film crew. An over-reaction I know but I couldn’t help it at the time. I’ve never undertaken anything like this. What’s probably to blame for this in part is that around this time I began feeling ill which spread into all of the follow week. Seeing as I was under the weather to begin with, I just wanted to call the whole thing off. I didn’t feel confident enough to even go for the interview much less actually do the documentary itself! Again horrifying visions ensue of me being laughed at for my imperfect use of the Czech language. I think my worry over my language skills was the biggest hurdle because I haven’t completed a Czech education, due to always being abroad.

What really helped me get out of the rut I was in was my parents and my friends. A loyal friend, who knew the whole story of this documentary opportunity, sat me down and gave me a serious talk about how I this turn of events was great for me and my future, and completely in my favour… I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He also kindly reminded me of the fact that my recent fortune cookies from Chinese new year had been freakishly accurate. One actually said “a fool never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity” and the other spoke of something along the lines of a “successful future venture”. So there I had my anchor of moral support from friend and fate. My parents of course were calling almost on a daily basis to encourage me, especially after the success of my first ever solo exhibition in India (2008) and a potential exhibition in Prague this autumn. The calls proved to me that a) yes I can speak Czech  and b) frequent discussion with them would actually prove this to me because my Czech did come back miraculously fast. They also pointed out that this documentary opportunity alongside the exhibition would be a brilliant way of opening doors for the future back in the country of my birth.