Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Kaja Szechowsko: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Kaja Szechowsko
Kaja Szechowsko is a Polish illustrator and jewellery designer who was inspired by her range of necklaces to create a surreal double page for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring Siamese twins. She tells us about the woodland of Lodz, aleatory concepts that have inspired a book she is making, and the idea of travelling through life as a hitch-hiker.

Kaja Szechowsko
Why did you decide to study sculpture and how has that informed the way that you design and create art today?
I attended a preparatory course for drawing at my university, and I was rather thinking about choosing graphic arts later. One day I lost a doll that I had pinned to my bag. It was a plush miniature of me that I had sewn and I called it my Voodoo Doll. I was upset and when I went in to my course the next day, I told my friend about the loss. And to my surprise he said: “Really? I saw it sitting on a pedestal in the hall. I thought you had an exhibition.” And there I found her, and so I found my place. I feel that the biggest thing I learned while studing sculpture was a way of thinking, of analysing my work, and making myself question it as if I was somebody else. All the rest is some kind of sensibilty that remains the same, regardless of medium.

Kaja Szechowsko
Where do you go for an injection of inspiration in the city of Lodz?
It’s difficult to say now, it’s somehow the city of my past, and everything reminds me about something that I don’t need anymore. As for today my favourite place is the forest on the outskirts, near my parents hause. It’s neutral enough and meaningless to feel comfortable.

Kaja Szechowsko
You run a jewellery brand called OMG! Jewels – how did you learn how to make jewellery, what features in your current range and how are the pieces made?
My jewels are just miniature sculptures. I didn’t take any special courses. It all started with a necklace portrait of my flatmate’s dog that I made for her birthday. It turned out so cool that I decided to make some more. The first collection is made up of necklaces featuring different kinds of creatures such as unicorns, holy sheep, slugs, meat-eating plants and animal skulls. Some of them are a little creepy, others are just lovely, however all of them are at least a little kitsch. I can reveal that the new collection will be even more freaky and will use an illustration medium.

Kaja Szechowsko double spread
Who or what inspired your colouring page artwork?
One of the necklaces I have made for OMG! Jewels features my favourite Siamese doll, who is also the protagonist of my colouring pages.

Kaja Szechowsko
You’ve moved around a lot in the past few years – what has taken you across Europe and what have you done to keep your creativity alive on the go?
Generally, I have terrible feelings that I’ll suffocate if I stay in one place too long. Usually there is some small indication that I follow. Once I found a little Eiffel Tower below my feet. Another time, I read about a place in one of Roberto Bolaño‘s books. And so on. It seems like a childish play, or maybe it’s just a selective subconscience, but I find it magical. I try to work in the conditions in which I find myself; it’s a little hard and I’d like to improve that point of the story. I was working in an artistic recidency and I have had some other temporary studios, but I feel now I need another quality of working calmness.

Kaja Szechowsko
What is your preferred process to create an illustration?
I work mainly with traditional techniques using paints and crayons. I like this process, I find it relieving. I use the computer only to put things together. Generally I wouldn’t really mind a life without a computer. I feel it destroys all the magic, both in life and art.

Kaja Szechowsko
Who is your new illustrated book Bad Herbs aimed at and what kind of ideas will it feature?
It’s definitely aimed at adults. It’s based on an aleatory concept that I invented. The drawings are only a pretext. It’s more or less about randomness and choice. But I cannot reveal more, because then, there won’t be a surprise anymore :).

Kaja Szechowsko
Where are you based now and what are your plans for the future?
Currently I’m not based anywhere at all. I’m just passing my mental SPA holidays in my parents hause, stroking my beloved cat Alisek and planning the brightest ever future. I’ve just left Barcelona with a deep conviction that I’ll never go back again, although I left all my stuff there. It’s irrational, but typical for me. I have a lot of plans for the future! When I finish the book it will surely satisfy my illustration hunger, and I’d like to go back to creating my mechanical toys, which I have abandoned for some time. And then travel, travel and look for the new adventures, and somewhere in the middle build a place where I can rest and work in peace.

Kaja Szechowsko
What was the most inspiring part of your travels?
It was surely the aspect of the unknown and the whole range of possibilities open to me, the uncertainty about what will happen and the complete certainty that something (whatever) will happen. I love the idea of life as a kind of hitchhicking experience. Another thing is that I like a change of scenery (or at least a scenography), at that point when I’m catching myself looking, but no longer seeing. When I getting used to something, it’s like the first sign I am getting languid.

Kaja Szechowsko 02
Where else do you look for inspiration?
In the dreams. I’m really good at remembering my dreams. Currently I’m trying to learn some techniques of lucid dreaming, to have still more fun. However as for now, the result has been completely the opposite and I just fall asleep immediately or don’t remember anything at all.

Preorder your copy of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion to arrive in January and don’t miss out on the opportunity to colour unique artwork created by 44 artists from all over the world. Just click here.

Categories ,#ameliasccc, ,Alisek, ,Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, ,Bad Herbs, ,Colouring Book, ,etsy, ,interview, ,jewellery, ,Kaja Szechowsko, ,Lodz, ,poland, ,Polish, ,Roberto Bolaño, ,Voodoo Doll

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with James Morgan, director of the video for Cucurucu by Nick Mulvey

Nick Mulvey by Kaja Szechowsko

NIck Mulvey by Kaja Szechowsko.

Nick Mulvey, former founding member of Portico Quartet, releases new single Cucurucu accompanied by a stunning video shot on Nihiwatu beach in Indonesia by National Geographic director James Morgan, filmed in March 2013. Nick says: “I felt this song needed a video with wide expanses. Space to wonder. I didn’t have to look too far for the right film maker – James is a friend of mine, and I’ve loved his work for National Geographic. I knew he’d understand what I was after and have something special in his vaults…” So we caught up with James Morgan to find out more, and see further examples of his beautiful photography.

Can you tell us a little about the locations in this video – how did you come across them and is there any interesting history behind any of the locations?
All the footage for this video was shot on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. I was there in March last year shooting a documentary about the practice of ritualised violence and local esoteric beliefs. You can see more about that here. The opening shot is actually of a shaman gathering sea worms at dawn from the ocean, the colour of the sea worms serves as an augur of the coming harvest. For Cucurucu we decided to focus just on the story of these two boys riding their horses at the beach. 

Sumba-Pasola-by James Morgan

Two young boys and their horses play in the ocean in Nihiwatu, Sumba.

Can you tell us a bit about the boys and their horses?
The two boys are called Laiya Kula and Honga Dedu, we met them in a village in eastern Sumba. I’ve worked in Indonesia on and off for a few years so have a reasonable grasp of the language, I was also working with a producer and frequent collaborator, Johnny Langenheim, who is based in Bali and speaks Indonesian fluently. The horses are what makes Sumba unique in Indonesia, as I understand it they’re a result of Sumba’s place on the old sandalwood trade routes to China and Arabia. Now they’re very much a part of the culture. On another day we were invited to the funeral of a wealthy local landowner where a huge number of pigs and buffalo were slaughtered and, in testament to the man’s status, a horse was also killed quite violently. It was hacked to death with machetes and ran around for a good few minutes, it’s entrails splashing out onto the crowd, before it finally died. I find things like that hard to watch but in a lot of ways its less haunting than getting our horses vacuum packed and passed off as beef lasagne. 

Sumba-Pasola-man chewing betel by James Morgan

Ratu Dangu Duka chewing betel before the Pasola in Sumba, Indonesia.

How did working with Nick come about and how did you come to work on this ‘Cucurucu’ track?
I’ve known Nick for a few years and always been a big fan of his music so I was very excited when an opportunity came up to collaborate. 

Sumba-Pasola-man in hut by James Morgan

Tradition dictates that Almarhum Keledepiku must throw the first spear in the Pasola, a responsibility that he has inherited from his ancestors.

Is this the first music video you’ve been a part of, and if so how did you find melding the images with the music?
Yes, this is the first music video I’ve done. The past few years I’ve been focused on long term investigative photojournalism stories looking at underreported environmental and human rights stories. But even with that work, I’ve always been trying to push the boundaries of multimedia, combining sound and visuals to create a more atmospheric form of journalism. Music videos are definitely something I’m keen to work more on. I’m planning this year to keep up the journalism but also to explore more experimental areas that allow me to create more richly textured and layered films. 

To see more photography and film by James Morgan visit: Cucurucu is released on 3rd March 2014 through Fiction Records.

Categories ,Almarhum Keledepiku, ,Cucurucu, ,director, ,Fiction Records, ,Honga Dedu, ,Indonesia, ,interview, ,James Morgan, ,Johnny Langenheim, ,Kaja Szechowsko, ,Laiya Kula, ,National Geographic, ,Nick Mulvey, ,Nihiwatu, ,Pasola, ,photographer, ,portico quartet, ,Ratu Dangu Duka, ,Sumba

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