Poland sketches #9 Jewish Quarter

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“The visit to the New Jewish Cemetery, deep in the heart of the Kazimierz district had, ironically, wiped away the specter of death. A peaceful chaos of tombstones blended with nature. For many minutes, we were alone in the dead quiet alleyways, until the arrival of a small horde of Israeli orthodox jews, teenagers, clumsy, euphoric with their trip down history lane.”

cemetery, Krakow, Poland

They were actually looking for the tombstone I had chosen as a foreground to my sketch. As a gentile, I feared a theological clash, so I wandered away as the horde of teens, lead by an older rabbi, bombarded the sights and several tombstones with flashes from digital cameras and smartphones. Once upon their objective, it was prayer and picture galore! Not since visiting Jim Morrison’s grave had I seen such a devotion and touristic enthusiasm for a tombstone. Later I found the grave belonged to a certain Rabbi Akiva Kornitzer, born in the Netherlands in the 19th century, who was Chief Rabbi of Krakow at some point.

synagogue, Krakow, Poland, Remuh

Kazimierz, which contained the Jewish Ghetto during the Nazi occupation, is peppered with quite ancient synagogues. Remuh Synagogue is perhaps one of the least interesting ones, but it’s one of two which are still active in Krakow. The thing I appreciated most was the devotion to the written word that Judaism exudes, in that even a tiny synagogue like Remuh has a proportional library of books available to its community.

Poland sketches #1 Train to Warszawa

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Compartment carriages are the best!

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“It was pretty early that, in my mind, the act of travelling was coupled with that of sketching, at least since I had the habit of reading and re-reading my father’s decades-old copies of Corto Maltese graphic novels. When they started publishing them again a few years ago, they included a few dazzling watercolors of the romantic soldier of fortune, set in exotic atmospheres and locations. It further spurred my will to travel and sketch, to record in line and color that which I see, taste, smell, hear and feel, the people that I meet, or that I don’t meet, but for one reason or another, compelled the pen to scratch the paper of yet another page of a sketchbook.

Travelling and sketching are two of my favorite activities. The first, fed by the mystery of the unknown and the curiosity that the other awakens, drives me to walk the globe, finding similarities and oddities, the different aspects of the human experience, that help me build a mosaic, an idea of what in the world are we doing here.

The second takes care of recording what I feel about all the things I come across while travelling. Sketching is an interface with the outside world and that which results from distilling the I and the other together. Maybe the second is the answer to the big question of the first: to find our own way of merging with the world.

A few days trip to Poland doesn’t seem to fit next to the esoteric and romantic wanderings of the sailor, and it’s certainly not the key to the secrets of the human experience, but I think that even in the shortest trips or the least exotic locations, sketching serves the purpose of interpreting and assembling tiny bits of wisdom and knowledge to the pool of oddities and patterns that makes us unique.

Further on, for more prosaic matters: sketching while travelling is a fine way of filling 3 hours of railroad travelling. It’s a better ice-breaker than wódka. It’s an excellent long exposure camera, capturing all the things that are happening around the sketcher, with more clarity and verve than a camera (or a cell phone for that matter).”

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Cheap beer and wódka welcomes travellers to Warsawa late night. Pijalnia is a franchise of polish wódka bars that doesn’t feel like a franchise.

 

Diários de Viagem 2 – Travel Journals 2

A year ago, I was invited, along with many other sketchers, illustrators and artists, to contribute with ten sketches from a trip I had made, for a collective book – the second of its kind – edited by Eduardo Salavisa and published by Quimera in Portugal. Last november, that project finally came to life in a book launch I unfortunately couldn’t attend. During the holidays, I finally got my hands on one of the two copies that were sent by the publisher and I must say it’s a true honour to have my work included among such superb artists like Siza Vieira, Lapin, João Catarino, António Jorge Gonçalves and so many others!

book, diários de viagem 2, travel, sketching, traveller, sketcher, Poland

The book is yet another step in showing the world what it is that we sketchers do and why do we do it. The following is a free translation of a promotional text about the book by Eduardo Salavisa:

“We know that when we travel, we’re more available and focused to see everything that surrounds us. If we take a sketchbook, a doodler tool and a few watercolours, we’re able to sketch or write down whatever is happening to ourselves, sometimes under difficult circumstances. Some sketches are done in a hurry while others are more elaborate. But all of them are fruit of a period of observation that dents our memory in a permanent way.

The authors, both portuguese and spanish (two of them french but living in Spain), that contributed to this book have good examples of this type of record. Each author tells us the tale of a journey through drawings in their sketchbooks – the Travel Journal – and a short text. It’s 30 journeys told by sketchers-travellers.”

book, diários de viagem 2, travel, travelling, sketching, sketcher, traveller, Poland

Over the next few months, I’ll post here the full sketchbook of the trip to Poland, including the sketches and texts published in the book Diários de Viagem 2.

A big thank you to Patrícia Canastreiro for all the photos and patience!

Anna Tizianna

 

Anna Tizianna book launch

Anna is almost turning eight. She suddenly and unexpectedly becomes rich, and she knows exactly what to do with the money. This is the premise for Emma Fäldt‘s new children’s book – Anna Tizianna – with illustrations from Josephine Nicander. The book launch was in a quaint little greenhouse in Lund’s Stadsparken. There were autographs from the author and a short reading from the author’s mother.

I got one! If I manage to finish it, I’ll be proud of my swedish-speaking abilities.

Books, birthdays and booze

Diana's birthday

In our first and second days in Lisboa, we ended up being invited to birthday parties that we didn’t know were going to happen in the first place. We just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Diana had her birthday celebration at home with a few friends. Simple and delicious salmon pasta went around, garnished by guacamole. Books were passed around and shared and taken note of. Germany won its match against Algeria

Márcia's birthday

The next day found us snacking snails, bifanas and beers, then crashing another birthday dinner party and following after the small crowd to a house for drinks. I for one was delighted that the Márcia, the birthday girl (plus a few of the guests) was from Portimão – the town right next to my home town. This way I got to hear that heavy accent they have over there and enjoy regional booze from Monchique: the notorious medronho and the less known (unknown even to me) melosa. The former is strawberry tree moonshine, bitter and warm, which Márcia explained that it is expensive to acquire, but almost every household has a bottle and that it is customary to be offered a drink of it as a guest in the standard Algarve home. The latter is liquor, sweet and mellow, distilled out of honey.