The River: A History

The River – A History

DSC_8960When I was planning my diploma project for the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 1999, I thought I would use some of my existing pictures –all drawn using long colored pencils sharpened on sandpaper – to tell the fantasy story I had created. However, due to my job at the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies and my young children, I didn’t have enough suitable pictures, and so I began work on the pictures needed to complete the story.
Highly motivated, I began to work and soon found that the themes and technique of my earlier drawings inspired me. From 1999 until 2005, for about six years, I worked on the pictures that would complete the story told by a series of 17 colored pencil drawings. It is the story of a woman, and begins with her childhood.
She was born in a light blue bubble, surrounded by her small family. But the bubble bursts, and the family are separated. The little girl finds shelter in a deserted house (“Winter Landscape”), where she stays until adulthood (“The Fire”). The young woman leaves the house yearning for company and searching for love (“The Secret Garden”). But she is disappointed and becomes even more isolated (“The Bodiless Head”). Time passes; life opens new doors for her (“The City”) and gives her a new family (“The Narrow Room”).
During this period, I sometimes felt very inspired; sometimes not very inspired – at times I drew with great energy, but for long periods, I didn’t even look at the pictures. Some pictures, like “Reposing People” were the result of a struggle between the colors and the paper, while others, such as “Peace” and “The Secret Garden” were almost spontaneous, and involved almost no effort whatsoever.
After I had finished “Shining Bubbles” the end of 2004, I spread out all 17 pictures on the floor, one by one, the old with the new. But the result was not entirely satisfactory – I had the feeling that something was missing. Several days passed before I discovered what it was. It appeared to me that the pictures needed the written word in order to address and enlighten the audience. And so I withdrew to a cloister for a week and, inspired by the isolation of the place, began to write. The words flowed onto paper, and the 17 texts were written very quickly. It was then that I knew that my work was finished, and I felt extremely relieved. Soon thereafter, inspired by Heraclitus, I gave my story the title “The River.”
P.S. Shortly after I received my diploma in 2005, I began work on new pictures, which I felt were more suited to the story, and used them in place of the older ones. I am still working on new pictures, and am planning to continue the story with new drawings: The river flows to the sea.