More Joy & Color

{screenshot of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk}

A sweet friend of mine posted a clip of this Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joy TED Talk on my FB page and I just had to share it. I mean, a talk on joy and color, what could be better?!

Ingrid is a designer, writer, and the founder of The Aesthetics of Joy website and community. As an expert in design and joy she took the stage to talk about our fundamental need and desire for, you guessed it, joy.

“On the most basic level the drive toward joy is the drive toward life.” 

In her research on joy she found that even though “the feeling of joy is mysterious and elusive, we can access it through tangible physical attributes, or what designers call aesthetics.” She began referring to these moments of joy in the world as the “aesthetics of joy.” Boy does that speak to my creative heart!

The aesthetics of color, patterns, multiplicity, and the shapes of objects in our world are definitely a few things that get me excited, I may even jump up and down. It’s true joy is mysterious, but wherever we find it we need to surround ourselves with it. As Ingrid notes, “each moment of joy is small, but over time they add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

I believe she is right, to live a joy-filled life we need focus our hearts and minds on the things that bring us that jump-up-and-down feeling. To pursue joy rather than happiness helps us find the richness and abundance in life we inherently crave.

Hopefully this talk and her website can inspire and encourage you to take the time to notice the aesthetics of joy around you and focus the things and moments in your life that lift you up. Maybe your joy will be contagious and inspire others to pursue more joy. You may even find a way to infuse joy into your sphere of influence through your skills, talents, and giftings. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Here’s to a joy-filled day!

kdg

Follow The Aesthetics of Joy on Instagram and Facebook

Once a designer, always a designer

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Seriously, you cannot turn it off! Whatever your passion, occupation, or education, you approach the world through that filter. You simply can’t help yourself! I walk into a space and move the furniture around in mind to make the flow better. In daily life I see potential photographs framed and composed. And don’t even get me started on how I see color and how happy it makes me when a group of people unwittingly coordinate.

You may already know that, although I’m a photographer and graphic artist, I went to school for interior design and worked at a commercial architecture firm, STUDIOS architecture, for 6 years before we became an expat family. Those were 6 amazing years for me. I learned and grew so much. I was blessed with fantastic mentors and work colleagues, as well as design experiences that inspired and changed me forever. There are days I’m nostalgic for the old days (and nights), my design buddies, the thrill of the creative process, and working in the city. That said, there is a season for everything, right?

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Five years later, it seems that this season will include interior design again. Thanks to my Mindfulness  buddy, Ms. Stacy, I have been tapped for my knowledge and experience in interior design..a lot. Being the exhorter that she is, she has shared the work we have done together on her house and her fabulous classroom. Thanks to her recommendations, I have space planned a few residential interiors, as well as the office of our Head of School, and consulted on ways to update the Elementary School office.

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Now I’m honored to teach and guide a group of High Schoolers that manage our campus Genius Bar as they design their newly renovated space. (Think student-run help desk a la Apple Store.) So far, we have had three workshops or, as we say in design, charrettes, with their teacher advisor as well as my buddy Brian, the Director of Technology (my guru who taught me the “faux app” trick). The students have been really receptive to learning about the process and it is so fun for me to share my knowledge and experience with them! I will recap our design adventure in the coming months, so stay tuned!

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I don’t know where all this design work will lead me to next, but I’m enjoying the journey and the memories.

On a side note: If you are in a place where you have a set of skills or knowledge that you don’t know what to do with, I say share them. Let me encourage you to volunteer those skills, talents, and knowledge. You never know what could come of it. We believe “stay-at-home” parents, particularly, are an untapped resource. Not only were we all something else before we had little people, those little people have made us better with perspective and, believe it or not, wisdom. Talk about the old days with your friends, your school, your kids, and just maybe it will put you on a path to your new purpose. Be encouraged, we are cheering for you!

with love,

kdg

The Colour Purple

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Back in February I took you through the colour wheel in the post, Exploring Colour. You would have learned there that purple is a secondary colour combining red and blue. It’s complimentary colour is yellow. Thus, when you mix yellow and purple together in equal parts, you get the neutral colour, brown.

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To clarify, purple is not the same as violet. Violet is slightly closer to blue on the colour wheel, but more importantly, violet is a pure spectrum colour. This means that violet has its own wavelength in the visible spectrum of light, the same violet you find when the sun comes out revealing the rainbow after the rain.

To learn more about visible colour spectrums, click here.

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Purple is known to be a colour of royalty. Think Empires, Emperors, and even Bishops from the Roman Catholic Churches. Why was this such a high end colour, you may ask? Well, let’s look at it’s origins for clues. Purple first showed up in prehistoric times in caveman paintings, these paintings were coloured using manganese and hematite minerals. Commercially however, purple dye was first discovered way back around 1570 B.C. by the Phoenicians. Known as Tyrian Purple, it is the colour that is formed when the secretion from predatory sea snails, from the Mediterranean Sea, is exposed to air.

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It was said to be so valuable because they often needed tens of thousands of the little snails and many hours of labour to produce the dye. This dye did not fade with time, but only got better and brighter as it aged. Its impact was so significant that Phoenicia means land of purple.

To learn more about this Tyrian Purple dye, click here.

In nature, purple is the colour of blackberries, cabbage, grapes, eggplants, and flora and fauna galore.

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In psychologically purple represents creativity, fantasy, intuition, selflessness, passion, power, respect, leadership, ambition and confidence to name a few.

I will never forget back in high school the head boy and head girl had to wear purple blazers. I’m not talking deep, royal purple either, I’m talking about bright, magenta-purple. It was an eye sore, to me at least. Purple can be a very beautiful colour that pulls design together, but if you get it wrong, it will draw everyones attention and highlight a bad desicion. Therefore I recommend in design, use purple wisely. In photography, it is a great way to attract attention, but not as aggressively as red.  In addition, it can be both a  masculine and feminine hue.

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Side note: a super fun sorting game to play with the kids is to have a bucket of legos and have them sift out all the block in one chosen colour to display.

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Where do you see and use purple in the world around you, we would love to know. Share your purple world with us and don’t forget to use the #itsapurpleworld and #itsacolourfulworld so we can follow along.

Cheers from me – your fellow friend of purple,

la

 

She {SHARES} Truth

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I have a confession: I judge books by their cover. As a visual person I cannot help but be drawn to books with well-designed covers. I could spend hours in a bookstore being inspired and shocked by the choices of the authors and publishers – yep that’s me browsing and judging all before I read one word inside.

When it came time to choose the next book for our Bible study I was drawn to several books – friends, we are so blessed with so many great Christian authors (and cover designers)! Then I came across this beautiful black, white, and yellow flat lay with a yellow binding and a clean logo on top and I had to know more.  Open Your Bible was simultaneously a simple title and a call to action.

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I sent it to my co-leaders as my choice and, as with all things meant to be, they had both chosen it as well. This six week study changed all of the lives of the ladies sitting around my dining room table. The authors Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams, of She Reads Truth, spoke straight to our hearts; they challenged and encouraged us. The core of the study is that the Bible is for all of us and for now. Through sweet anecdotes, wisely chosen scriptures, and prayers – not to mention beautiful images and clear layout design – they spoke Truth to and over us, as well as taught us how to approach the Bible on a daily basis. {Bless their hearts!} I highly recommend this study, it will meet you wherever you are in your faith walk and grow you.

On the same day as we made the decision to go with their study, my co-leader Kristy sent me this promo video for the She Reads Truth Bible. A Bible for the creative heart and visual learner. A Bible designed {and GOD breathed}…for me.

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We talk a lot about inspiration here on It’s A Colo{u}rful World. We have shared people who inspire us, books we love, places we’ve been, and gushed over the array of colors that surround us. To a creative, inspiration is like water to our parched souls. For this creative heart, divine inspiration is like a frosty glass of ice-cold water in the desert.

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Needless to say, I was inspired, and since my birthday was coming up I made my prayer warrior momma proud and asked for a Bible for my birthday. Let me tell you I LOVE THIS BIBLE!

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It was made for creatives like me who geek out over custom fonts, beautifully lettered graphics, streamlined infographics (maps, charts, and timelines), and lots of white space for notes and sketching. I have never seen a Bible quite like this. The attention to detail and intentional design make my heart so happy and it inspires me to dive deeper into the Word daily.

“Every human word and element  in this book is an intentional invitation for you to both read Scripture and grow in your affection for it. ”                     Raechel Meyers & Amanda Bible Williams

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In addition to all the aesthetic beauty that was added to the most beautiful words ever written, the ladies at She Reads Truth added reading plans and devotions for each book of the Bible. Each book has a section with a key verse that summarizes the book as well as a description of the author, context, message and purpose, genre, and how it fits in the larger picture of the Word.

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In the front section there is an overview on how to read the Bible, including a summary of the topics covered in the Open Your Bible study. Then, following the key features pages, there is an introduction to the Christian Standard Bible translation. You can tell that every element was prayerfully and purposefully executed.

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If you have been searching for more from this life, for a place to go when you don’t know what step to take next, or if you are hoping to grow your faith, this Bible will inspire you. Take a step toward the ultimate Creative and He will meet you there, even in your mess.

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope” – Tim Keller

Come. Seek. Find. Be inspired!

blessings friend,

kdg

LINKS:

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When Lexi turned 2

I would not call myself a “kids party” photographer, nor do I see myself going in that direction professionally. But for my dear friends, it’s a privilege to capture the freeze-frames of celebration, endless amounts of fun, contagious laughter and abundant love. Not to mention that kids parties are full of one of my favourite things to photograph, – no, not the kids….COLOUR!

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Two years ago, when my new friend at the time, Debbie, asked me to photograph her daughter Lexi’s 2nd birthday party, I was a little nervous. I had never photographed someone else’s kid’s party before. My own kid’s parties, yes. However the pressure another’s once off, no chance of a reshoot, precious memories in my hands, that was new. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and went for it.

When I arrived at the scene, it was clear that this mom was skilled. I mean the put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame kind of skilled. The happy scene was infectious. I was even able to have some photography fun of my own, and truly capture the memorable event.

Camera – Nikon D90

Lens – Nikon 10-105MM f/3.5-5.6

Conditions – Indoor shoot, medium light with low light in places, shoe horn flash needed

Prep – To prep for this shoot I met with Debbie a few days before to have a conversation about what the job would entail, in this briefing we got to know each other better and laid out each others ideas and expectations. I then met with her at the venue the day before the party to take a good look at lighting and environment so there wouldn’t be any surprises on the day of the shoot.

I arrived early, brought a large water bottle, extra memory cards, extra batteries for both flash and camera, and wore comfortable clothing that did not attract attention. I was ready and settled with the decor shots out the way before the first guests even arrived.

Lessons learned – I only brought 1 set of extra flash batteries, it was about 3-4 hours total of shooting and I underestimated how much power the flash would use. Luckily when the flash batteries ran out for the second time it was at the end of the party and I was just getting a few extra shots here and there which I was still able to get with an adjusted higher ISO and a little extra love in Photoshop.

Top Tips – When photographing groups of children keep an eye on aperture – you don’t want the back row of kids in group shots to fall victim to depth of field blur, and Shutter Speed, kids move fast, enough said.

  • For anyone photographing kids indoor with a shoe horn flash or speedlight, you need to pay extra attention to your Shutter Speed. If you set it too fast you will essentially out shoot the speed of the flash and end up with half your image correctly exposed and half your image in black. So just keep that in mind.

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I went on to photograph two more events for Debbie and her amazing family before they moved on from Kuwait, but I will always hold this particular celebration close to my heart, as the first one.

Thank you Debbie for all your attention to detail and your impeccable style. Your love, joy, and friendship is a blessing to all who get a chance to know you.

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Her family really is every child photographer’s dream client.

Cheers,

la

Book Review: Grace, Not Perfection – embracing simplicity, celebrating joy

A dear friend of mine came back from her December holidays and planted this book proudly on my living room table and said,“It’s beautifully designed and she’s so inspiring I just know you’ll love it.” Thanks, Viv, you were so right!

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Once upon a time, I enjoyed an amazing career in advertising for many years, traveling to countries such as Mozambique, Romania, Spain, and Lebanon to name a few. Then 3 months after getting married, I fell pregnant with my first child. I had never planned on becoming a house wife! I had never even taken Home Ec at school! After a good dose of humble pie and a whole heap of life lessons, this book was such a welcome read for me. It put into words so many of the things I have felt and faced living this new creative mom life path.

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee

Shortly after Viv shared the book with me, Katie was sharing her hurting, over committed, overwhelmed, and stressed out heart with me, and I told her she needed to read this book. It took her a few months (and more than a few nudges), but she finally ordered it. I just knew that Emily’s story, her way with words, and the gorgeous, clean design would speak to her, as it did for me.

The author, Emily Ley, is a designer, wife and mom of 3 little ones. With degrees in English, Marketing, and Public Relations, she launched her own brand in 2008. In 2011 Emily created The Simplified Planner® for busy working moms like herself and has grown from strength to strength with global success.

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Along with practical tools and tips on how to simplify your life, Emily shares her testimony. Through the stories she weaves so eloquently, the reader can see that her strength and wisdom come from her Christian faith and upbringing. It is essential to her overcoming the battle for perfection and turning her focus to gratitude and grace. It is authentic and honest, not pushy, and we believe most readers will appreciate her openness, Christian or not.

There are so many great quotes that resonated with both of us throughout the book. Some that inspired us to declutter and set priorities, and others that reaffirmed us. It is truly a wonderful book that motivates, challenges, and loves on the reader.

Here are some take aways that spoke to us and influenced us for the better:

• Perfect doesn’t always equal worthy.

• Give yourself permission to slow down.

• Fiercely guard the pages of your calendar.

• It’s ok to say NO, not just is it ok, it is very necessary.

• Make sure you are taking time for yourself so that you can pour out sweet water to your people.

• Decluttering and organizing your life will make room for more joy.

• Don’t miss the joys hidden between the grand moments in life.

• Free your hands. Lock the phone in the drawer. Everything else can wait. 

• Home days are as important as playdates.

• Eliminate distractions, especially the digital ones; they are time-suckers. Turn off notifications and check your email when you want to, and try keeping your social media app out of site.

• Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.

• Mommy guilt is a liar and comparison steals joy.

“Mommy guilt. It’s an epidemic. The working mom, the part-time mom, the stay-at-home mom, the super-mom, the room mom, the traditional mom, the modern mom, the helicopter mom, the tiger mom. No one is immune when mommy guilt rears it’s ugly head to whisper the lie that we’re somehow failing our children.” – Emily Ley

We have both recommended this book to the moms we know looking for balance, more joy, and ultimately grace in their mess. Each of them receiving it with the same gratitude that we did. Feeling liberated in knowing that WE ARE ENOUGH! 

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“Ultimately simplifying allows us to slow down enough to savor this life” – Emily Ley

So in the spirit of simplifying and pursing joy, let’s agree to not rush these days away – our kids are growing up so fast as it is. Let’s take the time to appreciate the little things, find the joy between the grand moments, pursue our calling, and a be present in each season of life. Seek Grace, not perfection.

We both highly recommend this book, so when you give it a read, tell us what you think. Did it change your perspective or inspire you?

happy reading,

la-kdg-signature

Thirty-four years young

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As I bid farewell to thirty-three I have been reflecting on how I have grown this past year. We alway track our children and their development and as they grow from year to year, but somewhere along the way we forget to track our personal development. Ok, we do have annual reviews that discuss our professional development and many of us take stock of our physical status and capabilities, but I am talking about our mental and spiritual growth.

So often in conversations we discuss how life has changed or how we view situations differently than we did in our 20s or in college, but what has actually changed in us to make that true?

Reflecting on a few of my current feelings, I realize that last year I changed. The usual expat process of transition; saying see you later to family and friends and settling into your new routines is tough. We love this life, but it is not without heartache. Each move holds lessons that, if learned, will make us stronger and better at life.

Last year was especially bittersweet for our family as we had 6 months between posts abroad back home in Virginia. We cherished every moment with our family and friends, because we knew that season was short and may never happen exactly like that again. In the spirit treasuring that time with the people we love, I almost missed out on making a wonderful new friend. My parents live in a great neighborhood and my mom was convinced that one their neighbors would be the perfect friend for me. Thankfully it worked out and Kelly and I became friends and shared some fabulous times together before both of us moved away in the summer and I know we will see each other again. Lesson learned, keep your heart open to new friendships in all seasons.

In addition to the expat life lessons, parenting is one of the great refiners. Parenthood revealed to me that I don’t like to ask for help even if I am drowning. Receiving help is tough for me, because I grew up as a military brat and we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and move on, as the saying goes, and I am stubborn. So this life lesson has been taken bit longer to learn than others. Thankfully I have been blessed with people who are stronger at saying “I will help you” than I am at saying “I’m ok.” In the past year, I literally had to go through situations where I need to ask and receive help at least once a month. Now I can truly say that I will accept help when it is offered and although I still struggle with it, I will ask for help. I also had an epiphany  about this that really made me get over myself. When we don’t let people to help us, because we think it selfish to ask, we are actually selfishly not allowing them to fulfill their calling and share their heart with us. 

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The other excruciating lesson that I am having to learn over and over is about overcommitting. It is like a compulsive disorder that makes me raise my hand when people ask for creative help! AHHH! I get involved and the perfectionist in me rears her ugly head, and there am at 2:00am working on my laptop, because a full night of sleep will come when my kids are raising my grandchildren and my to-do list is clear. Seriously, when I am in and I am all in, especially when it comes to photography and design. This last weekend of thirty-three however I made a decision to not put myself in this stress-filled space again. I am happy to report I just put my hand down, I’m actually sitting on it. I may actually be graduating from this course and moving on to conquer time management, ha!

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As you can see thirty-three was bittersweet and I grew up a little bit more. I learned to say no, and yes, to enjoy my people, to grow my circle of people, and learn from each experience good and bad. Now at thirty-four, I hope to be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, puppy mom (eek!) creative, and entrepreneur. My birthday wish this year is for all of us to be more joyful and laugh often, even at ourselves.

Cheers,

kdg

Creative Spaces {part 1}

My gran is a painter. She raised 4 boys while my grandfather was the sole provider. I think she had the tougher job by far, just saying! They lived in their ‘family home’ for as long as I can remember, from after marriage to well into their 70s I think.

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My gran had one room of the house to herself, it was her art studio. I have the fondest memories of running into that house and the first thing I’d do, once I had greeted the adults was go straight to that room and look at everything. There was hardly any room to actually walk around. Half finished paintings were everywhere, she couldn’t just work on one project at a time, nope she was too busy for that. It’s like all her ideas were trying to escape her mind at once. I remember the smell of oil paint and turpentine. I remember the easels and the brushes in all shapes and sizes, and I remember the paint pallets decorated with fresh and dry paint.

Is was there that the dream was born in me, to one day have my own art studio. I haven’t got there yet. But the dream is alive and is now being shared by my children.

One day it will happen, and in preparation for that I have been exploring all kinds of wonderful art and creative spaces.  Here are a three of my favourite so far.

Oh Happy Day:

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Lia Griffith:

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Something Turquoise:

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And while these are all the spaces that I aspire to, this is where I am at the moment:

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Trusty canine companion – Check!

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Kids art (I’m a mom first) – Check!

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Words of encouragement and Portuguese tiles for inspiration – Double Check!

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Polaroids of crazy times – Check!

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Photos of where our collaboration all began – Check!

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Katie will share her thoughts on creative spaces and her own wee corner in another post, stay tuned for part 2!

Cheers,

la

Inspiring Artist: William Kentridge

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Photo by Sebastian Luciano

I remember being in high school, in South Africa, at 17 years of age and we went on a field trip to the Pretoria Art Museum. As an art student we had been learning about William Kentridge. His work was proudly on display that hot summer day in Pretoria. I had very little knowledge and appreciation for the greatness of the artist at the time. And I never gave it another thought passed our final exams that year.

Last year my husband and I went to Rome for a second honeymoon. You know the kind, where you are finally done being pregnant and are finally out of the baby phase of life and you can now start to enjoy your spouse a little bit more with your children getting more and more independent…

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Anyway, I digress, it was during this trip to Rome that I came across the great wall of ‘Triumphs and Laments’ – the brief history of Rome. It gave me a vague feeling of nostalgia, and a strange familiarity, yet I had never seen it before. It was later, during a BBC interview with Mr. Kentridge that I connected the dots and his story came alive for me.

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This piece is a 550m long frieze (erased from the biological patina on the Tiber embankment walls of Rome’s urban waterfront). It consists of more than 80 figures, up to 10m high and represents a silhouetted procession of Rome’s greatest triumphs and tragedies. To celebrate its launch, he and his long-time collaborator, the South African composer Philip Miller, devised a series of performances featuring live shadow play and more than 40 musicians.

The hope is that, [as] people walk the extent of these 500 meters, they will see images of the history they find both familiar and transformed in some way. And this will reflect the complex way in which a city is represented… We are trying to find the triumph in the lament and the lament in the triumph, putting together a sense of history from fragments.’ – William Kentridge

William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa and still resides there today. Both his parents were attorneys during the apartheid era and they represented the oppressed and marginalised.  This explains where he gets his political slant from. With a strong artistic voice he is able to communicate what we think and feel during turbulent times over tabu subjects. He makes you think, holds you accountable, and inspires you to do something – to make a change. He calls us out. Whether we are guilty or not.

Short film – Felix in Exile:

At first he wanted to be an actor, gave it a good try but when he realised he was failing, he went back to his first consistent love, drawing. Eventually, he became comfortable calling himself an artist and he has never looked back since. More than just art for arts sake (which there is nothing wrong with by the way) he genuinely has content that makes political leaders squirm in their seats. He took his charcoal drawings to another level and started to create short films – successive charcoal drawings, always on the same sheet of paper, contrary to the traditional animation technique in which each movement is drawn on a separate sheet. In this way, Kentridge’s videos and films came to keep the traces of the previous drawings. His animations deal with political and social themes from a personal and, at times, autobiographical point of view.

On the art market, Kentridge’s artworks are among the most sought-after and expensive works in South Africa: “a major charcoal drawing by world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge could set you back some £250 000”. Kentridge is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, however over the years he has also had work in all the major galleries around the world, including the Louve, Paris.

The South African record for Kentridge is R2.2 million ($250,000), sold at Stephan Welz in Cape Town in 2010. One of his works reached $600,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2011.

The above images were photographed from a Phaidon Publication.

Mr. Kentridge is a truly inspiring artist to follow and one I am deeply proud as a fellow South African.There is just so much more to him, than I have shared here, so I encourage you to look out for him in book stores and galleries near you. May be he will challenge how you see the world and history.

Cheers,

la