Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sweet African Unicorn

I found information about this darling creature on, quite entertaining I must say. It's for children, exactly what we are supposed to be going for.

"The Okapi (or "forest giraffe") is a solitary, giraffe-like mammal found in rainforests of the upper Congo River Basin in central Africa. This nocturnal (most active at night) animal was only discovered by scientists in the early 1900's. Okapi have a life span of 15 to 20 years in captivity.
Anatomy: The Okapi's coat is deep reddish-brown; it has zebra-like stripes on its hindquarters and upper legs. The neck is shorter than that of a giraffe, and the okapi is much smaller than the giraffe. It is about 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulders and weighs about 450 to 550 pounds (200-250 kg). The Okapi has a long, sticky tongue which it uses to get leaves and for grooming - its can even lick its eyes with its tongue.
Diet: The Okapi is an herbivore (a plant-eater). It eats leaves, shoots, fruit, and berries, spending most of its time eating. Okapi are ruminants; they swallow their food without chewing it. After a while, they regurgitate a partly-digested "cud" which they chew and then swallow for the last time.
Classification: Class Mammalia, Order Artiodactyla (even-toed hooves), Family Giraffidae (giraffes and okapi), Genus Okapia, species johnstoni ."

Come, come, into the forest of unicorns

The elements of fairy tale:
• Stories are passed down from generation to generation.
• Special beginning words-  “Once upon a time”
• Good Character
• Evil Character
• There is royalty and/or castle
• Problem that the good character faces
• Solution to the problem.
•Moral or lesson; good always triumphs over evil.
• Special ending words- “They lived happily ever after.”
•* MAGIC *
 from Elizabeth Bellus' teaching portfolio
Points from Niklas Bengtsson's Sex and Violence in Fairy Tales for Children:
Maria "Tatar contends that, according to the Grimms, sex is unsuitable but violence is acceptable in children's stories."
"avoiding taboos has sometimes resulted in very appealing and influential literature."
Structural description: hero gaining a task.

Additionally: Costume designer, Trish Summerville, works together with the fashion house, H&M to create them a collection based on her designs for the anti-heroine of the film Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Notes on the Okapi

Let us collect some information about this fascinating animal:

Was considered as the "African Unicorn".
Appearance on Ancient Egyptian artwork
Logo of the International Society of Cryptozoology
Very good hearing
Ancient giraffine species, safely hidden in heart of Africa
Solitary creatures, a new-born will stay with its mother for 8 months after which it will leave to look for its own territory. Dr Terese Hart

Monday, 24 October 2011

Interesting finds

Just some interesting finds I wish to share:

  • Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publisher Out of Deal. I read about this on Anne Rice's facebook page. This would mean that amazon would now be able to publish books, which I find quite exciting for some reason, but sad at the same time.
  • We Are The Fallen: Bury Me Alive. The first thing you hear and see are, "what type of evanescence copy is this?", but it is not too bad. Also the Evanescence style is due to the former band members being in that very band. The reason I would like to post it here is for the aesthetics of the video itself: the clothes, and the slow opening of eyes by the white-laced lady at the end of the clip. Not the musical style, too light and mainstream, thank you. (no offence intended)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Animal Antics- project brief

Animal Antics

You are asked to devise a story centred around an animal – an elephant, a clouded leopard, an okapi - which will be told through dance, puppetry  and movement, suitable for an audience of both children and adults at a storytelling festival.  You will be divided into three groups and assigned one of these animals. As a group you will than devise a story around this creature; you can be as playful with the story as you like, but it must involve at least 4 human characters. Ultimately some of  these characters will be the manipulators of the large-scale puppet of the creature that you will make. Once you have devised a story, you should then go on to plan how to make a large stylised animal puppet, making maquettes or models that will help you visualise how this will work. Kim Bergsagel of puppet company VISION MECHANICS will assist you with your ideas. She has lots of practical experience of making large scale moving figures; but you will have to keep things light and easy to manipulate. You are also asked to design for the other characters in your story. These should be achieved by strong expressive silhouettes: think about the posture of their bodies, their age and how that affects posture, think about status and how that affects the way they carry themselves. Posture and stance can tell you much that clothes don't express. Think also about using life drawing observation to help you when sketching ideas. The figures should not be clothed but will wear complete body suits that will be padded to give an expressive shape: think about accentuating the tummy, the hips, etc. to give an expressive silhouette. The head, hands and feet too should be padded to give a larger, simplified shape.  Think about who the characters are and try to simplify , expressing character through shape alone.  There are a couple of key images we would like you to reference: The Cheshire cat from the Royal Ballet’s recent production of Alice in Wonderland (which was operated by a team of dancers) and the work of Melissa Ichiuji - look at the distinctive simplified, exaggerated and stylised body shapes in some of her work . In addition to this, each costume grouping will meet with a parallel grouping from Printed Textiles. You will discuss with them your ideas for the narrative and the creature you plan to design for. They will use these ideas when devising a free-printed 5 metre length of stretch fabric (one for each story group). They will have a ‘vocabulary’ of ready made screens to use and they can use these to build colour and pattern into the fabric, but not in a literal or repetitive way. This fabric will be used to cover the padded body shapes worn by your puppet manipulators. The ‘feel’ of this patterning should connect visually with your large scale puppet and the character narrative.
When presenting work, each performance costume student should illustrate the animal puppet in their own illustration style, even though they have arrived at its design communally. But each student is free to develop the design of and to illustrate the additional characters in their story in their own style.
Thus when working there will be elements of collaboration and also elements of individual design. The basic narrative will need to be arrived at through group collaboration. The large scale puppets will have to be designed and made through group collaboration. The textile for the padded body suits of the manipulators will be the result of collaboration between textile students and performance costume students. However, each costume student will be able to bring some individual style to the illustration of their story’s characters and their representation of the animal puppet. These large-scale puppets, once constructed, should be painted to give character, graphic texture and vitality to their surfaces. The puppets should be designed so that they are made in sections, which can be operated independently and which will rely on the choreographed movements of the operators to give them life-like movement and co-ordination. Making them in sections should mean that storage and transport will also be easier.
In addition to the advice of puppeteer Kim Bergsagel, choreographer Jane Howie will visit to talk with you about movement generally and the performative aspects of operating the puppets; this will be early in the project so that you can use this information when designing your puppets and character paddings. In Semester 2 each group will go on to build its large-scale puppet as a collaborative effort, but within each group, students will each develop a padded body suit (to their own design) in pattern-cutting workshops with Wendy Housam. To cover the suits, they will use the printed stretch fabric made in collaboration with printed textile students.
Work required:
Devised narrative, outlining the story of the animal you have been assigned. Maquettes and models illustrating how the puppet will work. Technical drawing of how the puppet will work. Illustrations of at least  four characters (some or all of whom will operate the puppet ).

learning outcomes:

DESI08001 : Design Studio 2
1. EVALUATE: evaluate and respond to project briefs, and formulate appropriate approaches
2. DEVELOP: apply fundamental material and conceptual development through a transparent iterative process
3. REALISE: realise project solutions through structured and transparent methodologies
DESI08002 : Design Research 2
1. INVESTIGATE: use a variety of practical and theoretical methods to demonstrate an investigation of research themes
2. CONSIDER: demonstrate the consideration of a range of issues influencing the research
3. SELECT: demonstrate the ability to select research themes and directions appropriate to specific projects and lines of enquiry
DESI08003 : Professional Design Practice 2
1. RECOGNISE: demonstrate a recognition of the creative context for the discipline
2. REFLECT: demonstrate the ability to reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses within the context of the discipline
3. COMMUNICATE: communicate proposals, concepts and responses orally, visually and in writing

project justification:

The project has been set at this point in the course to develop an imaginative and creative response to a challenging text, to strengthen research strategies and project management. Students will develop aspects of their design in practical sessions at the end of semester 1 and in semester 2.
Project aims: To develop research, design development skills. To develop skill in using costume and clothing to reinforce character portrayal. To develop awareness of demands on costume from performance and from performers. To develop an awareness and integration between actor and puppets within a performance. To develop costume making skills. To develop puppet making skills.
• Reason for having the project and at this point in the Course is: To provide a balance with other projects over the year, exploring different performance media. To build on character study to enable character portrayal for the stage. To develop costume making skills. To encourage an awareness of puppets and develop puppet making skills. To encourage individuality when interpreting a brief. To develop an ability to research and design within a limited time frame.

Some resources:
Puppet Lab in Edinburgh

Friday, 21 October 2011

In memorandum: The Lady of Wonderland

I was looking for Greek movies to watch on Google (I am still living through my Greek craze) when I spotted the tiny Google icon.
I thought, "now that looks a lot like something of Mary Blair's", so I clicked on it, and indeed it is her 100th birthday today! Blair was an amazing artist who had great contributions to Disney's magical world, such as Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and the adorable ride "Small World". I was lucky enough to have seen an exhibition of her inspirational work at Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art.

And I must share this about the enhanced Small World

Monday, 17 October 2011

The setting

Old Greek island by *merl1ncz

How aesthetically pleasing should it be... earlier I found this image on that really caught my attention.

I want to use these images, to create the feel of ruins, and decay. The city would be a well-looked after one but all around are the reminders of a catastrophe that keeps the people in fear for their future:
Locals walking through bombed ruins of city of St Lo.

A World War II picture of the bombed Hull, UK.

Mount Olympus in The Clash of the Titans (2010).

The forest on Mount Cithairon (from





Saturday, 15 October 2011

Acient Greece in contemporary movies

Clash of the Titans!

What I found interesting was how aesthetically pleasing everything was in the movie


A Greek movie from 1983 by Costas Ferris about the singer Marika Ninou from the pre- and post-World War II era.

Friday, 14 October 2011


"No more growing trees without a ground..."
Kidneythieves: Placebo

        As I was falling asleep yesterday, knowing that a calm night without an early hour -at which to wake- was ahead of me, I was flooded by the usual sea of imagery that comes at an early meditative state.
I was surrounded by silver and blue, like elven nights with starry skies.
I was listening to Within Temptation's Silent Force, as I haven't listened to it since I was 17.
I din't know if it was then or earlier that I realised, but I started wondering about setting the lay in a dystopic society. I had been truly troubled by the fact that I would not go see the play unless it had a message to put through, or something to dwell upon after leaving the theatre... well, what is one thing that I have always found fascinating: Dystopic literature and movies. Just last weekend I watched two examples of dystopia: 9, and V for Vendetta. This is what must have reminded me of my love for it.

9, Shane Acker's -Tim burton produced- animated feature, it is reminiscent of a shattered land after the World War II bombings.

Elements of Dystopia:

  • A tyrant, a dictator- a police state- control over society, pessimistic view of "iron fisted" ruler/government
  • -> repression/oppression- Fear- Silence- secretive dwellings, disappearnces
  • progression of technology contrasted with spirituality 
  • backstory, how it all started- happening after a certain catastrophe, for example set in an era of a post-nuclear explosion, maybe rapid technological changes, modifications of the human body; overpopulation,  revolution, disasters, wars- shift in systems of control, change in social norms
  • no hope of improvement, overshadowed dreams- punishment of wrong behaviour
  • -> secretive "resistance", a group or the protagonist who questions the society- escape or the over-turning of control and social order
  • -> ultimately may fail to change anything
  • conformity- equality- forgotten individuality
  • commonly urban (urbanised artificial landscapes)- isolated from nature (perhaps conditioned to fear it)
  • state-contolled economy, perhaps with black markets for "dangerous goods"
  • privatisation, corporations taken over/replaced government- they make decisions or set policies
  • degeneration of society- caste systems, low classes in worse state then low classe of contemporary society
James McTeigue's 2006 thriller based on Alan Moore's and David Lloyd's comic book by the same name, set in a near-future London.

Other dystopic stories I can think of at the moment are: George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Darren Lynn Bousmans' 2008 Repo! The Genetic Opera, Luc Besson's 1997 The Fifth Element, Michael Bay's 2005 The Island.

Only the royal family entitled to wear certain colours (here I am thinking of gold -although literally it is not a colour- because the Greeks are so often associated with it)
Going out to Nature is a taboo, that is why it is so bad to go out to Mount Cithairon...

Ancient Greek Embroidery

Here is a little embroidery fun I was having, I took this feathery floral detail from the picture of an “Embroidered Fragment from Kertch” (Greek Dress by E.B. Abrahams) the pattern of which I tried to complete on my sketchbook and explored it through different embroidery techniques, some that I knew, and some that were new to me.

These floral designs are said to be the regular type of decoration.

According to Abrahams the “designs so commonly used for the decoration of pottery were employed also in textile arts” this “is proved by some of the fragments found at Kertch. Quite considerable remains were found of a piece of woollen material elaborately embroidered with a large floral design [seen left] the main motiveof which is a graceful palmette, ffrom the base of which spring spirals terminating in heart-shaped leaves and flowers. The design is executed in gold and green on a violet ground.”

Thursday, 13 October 2011

For future reference

Armour for the soldier king

Armour for Pentheus and his men.

“Greek Shields
Greek shields used for drama productions appear more realistic when they create the illusion of weight.  To achieve this gravitas, either add metal weights the reverse side or better still add heave metal decoration to the front.
Greek Helmets
This selection of Grecian helmets shows how ornate and how high they were, this had the effect of making the soldiers appear taller and more aggressive.  Horsehair crests made the helmet an impressive sight.  The height of the helmet would also have helped absorb or deflect the sword blade attack. This page is an original 'Greek Battle Dress Costume History' article by Pauline Weston Thomas 2008 ©” from

More armoury

Fashion School of Greece

Addiotionally, a Greek photograper's, Manos Agrikamis, interesting shoot. And fashion designer, Panos Apergis' exciting designs for not your everyday models.

The Perfect pair

Teiresias and Kadmos

Comical old men, each typical, competing over who might be older.
Kadmos acting as if he believes, but still very traditional. I feel he is very much like the tragic character King Lear. What is a good parent?
King Lear on stage

Greek Pattern from

Teiresias dealing in strange affairs, selling charms from the mystic Asia Minor. That is why I want to include a Persian pattern here.

It is actually quite interesting how these are all very geometric patterns, whereas the Greek have more ivy-like fluid spirals. And it is, in fact, Pentheus that I would imagine as a more geometric character.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Greek Costume Designer

I'm starting to go all nuts about everything Greek, I wish I could go and take sketches of people on the streets of this wonderful country... but this will have to do, let's see what they might be interested in, although I know they probably don't read this, but I cannot read in Greek so I had to resort this. It is easy to find Greek-American articles online.

From The Greek Hollywood reporter, my informal solution in a way.
"By Jim Ballas
“Sex and the City: The Movie” ruled at the box office this past weekend, drawing in over $55 million, about $10 million more than the next highest grossing movie, “Indiana Jones.” A prominent feature of the show, and of course the movie, is the extravagant fashion selections the main characters wear. This is all thanks to Greek stylist and fashion designer Patricia Field.
Patricia Field was born to Greek and Armenian parents and raised in New York City. Her professional fashion career took off during the 1960s, when she opened up her first boutique, the House of Field. She became well known on the New York fashion circuit and ventured into television and film design starting in the late 1980s.
Field met Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of “Sex and the City,” on the set of the 1995 film “Miami Rhapsody.” Parker liked Field as the costume designer enough that when “Sex and the City” began, Parker asked for Field to design a few outfits. She later became the show’s costume designer, dressing all of the characters in the newest fashions.
Her work on “Sex and the City” was a great success. In her six years with the show, she was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning one, and six Costume Designers Guild Awards, winning four.
Since her original run on “Sex and the City,” she has designed for television shows “Hope & Faith,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Cashmere Mafia.” Most notably, Field was the costume designer for the trend-setting movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” which earned her an Academy Award Nomination for best costume design. She is currently working on “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” a film starring Isla Fisher, due out in February 2009.
Throughout all her movie and television success, Field still maintains her fashion line, named after her original boutique, “The House of Field.” She sells these and other designs at her New York boutique, appropriately named Patricia Field, located at 302 Bowery.
Field has been designing for many years, and her continuing success has made her a household name in the fashion world. To see more of Patricia Field’s work, check out “Sex and the City: The Movie,” now in theatres or take a look at her boutique at"

As it is everywhere, we are trying to look back to our national traditions, that is why this article about two women selling traditional Greek sweets is cute: Making tradition trendy

John Varvatos

Originally Greek, Varvatos is a men's fashion designer.
Here is my selection from his Spring 2012 collection, which I find quiet fitting for Dionysus.

Addiyionally: Yiorgos Eleftheriades.

More Greek designers...

A selection that I think had characteristically greek designs.

Christos Veloudakis, 2011

Christos Veloudakis, 2008 Fall-Winter

Makis Tselios

Christina & Joe

Aphroditi Hera

Christina Scarpeli, October 2010

Greek designers...