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The First Lines of Emails I’ve Received While Quarantining

Jessica Salfia

In these uncertain times
as we navigate the new normal,
are you willing to share your ideas and
solutions?
As you know, many people are struggling.

I know you are up against it:
the digital landscape.
We share your concerns.
As you know, many people are struggling.

We hope this note finds you and your
family safe.
We’ve never seen anything like this before.
Here are 25 Distance Learning Tips!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Feeling Fiesta today? Happy Taco
Tuesday!
Calories don’t count during a pandemic.
Grocers report flour shortages as more
people are baking than ever!
As you know, many people are struggling.


Count your blessings. Share your blessings.
Get Free Curb-side pick up or ship to your
house!
Chicken! Lemon! Artichokes!
As you know, many people are struggling.

How are you inspiring greatness today?
We have a cure for your cabin fever.
Pandemic dial-in town hall TONIGHT!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Mother’s Day looks a little different this year.
You’re invited to shop all jeans for 50% off!
Yes, buy 1, get 1 free!
As you know, many people are struggling.

Call us to discuss a loan extension without penalty.
ACT NOW: Tell Congress Charters should
Not Line their Pockets During the COVID crisis.
Now shipping facemasks as recommended
by the CDC.
As you know, many people are struggling.


This is not normal.

Seeing as we have officially entered the phase that leads up to the final countdown, it seems fitting to return from our break (which we sincerely hope you noticed) with Jessica Salfia’s beautiful compilation that recognizes 2020 for the upheaval that it has been.

Lie

Manasvini SN

Premise

Narendra Raghunath

An artist's studio is not a
Location.
Studio is the
State of Being

A river doesn’t start from  mountains
So is a learner
The flow doesn’t shape up in compartments
So is the learning
For purposing it for a greater ‘collective good’
Dams may be built
Channels may be created
The path may be defined

Yet Rivers don’t flow back ever to mountains
It always flows
The way it has been flowing
Far away from the rigid mountains
It follows the path of discovery
And adventure
Into the plains of its natural being
Into the plain, it is at peace with

The studio of art
The art of studio

An established painter and writer, one of foundation’s favourite teachers, Narendra Raghunath has taught quite a few of us a lot about art practices, and what it takes (or rather what it does not take) to be an artist. His thoughts on this subject do have a flavorful peace that persists and definitely impacts.

Pick of the Web

Glass / Glas (Bert Haanstra, 1958) via Youtube

1. For the last ten months, all of us have been looking at our screens for large chunks of most days; attempting to keep ourselves busy (and sane). Here’s Tim Kreider reminding us that “…history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams.” So breathe a little today, would ya? (“As you know, many people are struggling.”)

2.Via Austin Kleon, some advice from World-renowned poet Walt Whitman: “To young litterateurs, I want to give three bits of advice: First, don’t write poetry; second ditto; third ditto.

3. As long as we’re on the topic of practice and poetic expression, feast your eyes, and ears on this delectable documentary that brings together Jazz, Industrialisation and so much more.

Source: Javier Jensen via Behance

Animated Book Covers

Javier Jensen’s project on minimally animated book covers has been a delightful find. 

Instead of recreating illustrations that are already iconic, he chose to animate small elements in a way that is not distracting from the original design (but new interpretations aren’t a bad thing either, as these illustrated covers of The Lord of the Rings in a glass-painted style go to show).

Check out the full project below. 

Student Artist Spotlight

Maaham Rizvi & Tvishaa Shah

Our collaborative art account, @lildoodydoo was started in September 2018, during the workshop. We started out with an online challenge, creating 1×1 inch illustrations for a month – and, somehow, completed every day of the challenge. (And nope, we never really managed to do that together again). We were really excited about the account, knowing we’d have each other to keep us motivated. It also helped that we got along well. This was the beginning of @lildoodydoo and many works to come.

Tvishaa likes taking odd, everyday things and turning them into stories. Maaham loves illustrating, and also sees herself as a bit of an animator – just don’t ask her to make anything that’s longer than a minute. We both have similar interests – illustration and narratives such as comics or graphic novels – which is why having a joint account works so well for us. Oddly, our first collaboration was this year – ‘Riya’s Tummy Goes Gul Gul’ – a children’s book, based on a young girl’s difficulty dealing with the changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Sometimes, you can find us selling our work at Srishti organized events. (Although we do like to bribe our friends to manage the stall for us).

We try to make art that makes us happy. (We’re quite the cliche). We also like to experiment with different methods and techniques – you never know what you might end up enjoying. From making small watercolour paintings to digital illustrations, we have come a long way, encouraging and supporting each other but also growing together. And we don’t want to jinx it, but we hope to keep the account going for as long as possible. (We can assure you that we’ll always be partial to a few things, like Tux, Tvishaa’s cat, or Maaham’s attachment to making strange characters).

So what’s our advice for you? Form a strong art community. Find friends and batchmates to work with; seek advice, help each other out. If you feel like you don’t have the confidence or motivation to start a page alone, find a friend and do it together! Bonus: If you don’t have anything to post, the other person will probably have something. (Yes, Tvishaa’s definitely hinting at something here). At the risk of sounding like a pair of eighty-year olds: don’t stop learning, keep growing!

– Maaham Rizvi (she/her) and Tvishaa Shah (she/her)

P.S. Don’t ask us how the name lildoodydoo came to be, it’s a disappointing answer.

Maaham Rizvi

Tvishaa Shah

Lildoodydoo:

The Irregular Relationship
Between Holmes & Doyle

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Over the past two months, I’ve made headway into doing something I had been planning for a very long time. I’ve finally read the four Sherlock Holmes novels and over a dozen of the short stories. I’m still a long way from exhausting the latter but it’s progress. I’ve thought about something while reading the stories: I think that there are some writers, or artists, who just don’t feel connected to what they’ve written. For example, Michael Crichton, of Jurassic Park and ER fame, was a tall lively chap whose pictures and interviews paint the image of a man who was intelligent, confident and humorous; an Ian Malcolm if there ever was one. Or John Steinbeck, the author of Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, smoked cigarettes while wearing a look of self-assurance that one of his characters from Canary Row would have had. 

The only author I can think of who is so incredibly different and dare I say, inconsistent, from his own creation would be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you’ve been anything like me, you’ve probably never taken time to read through the original stories. You’ve seen the Robert Downey Jr. movies, you’ve seen the Benedict Cumberbatch or the Jeremy Brett version, you might have even heard of some of the many cartoons that recreate Holmes (sometimes even as a dog) and in thinking of Conan Doyle between all of this, it would not be unlikely that you echo what T.S Eliot said in 1929, “What has he got to do with Holmes?”. What has he, indeed? Reading the stories, the characters and plots are so incredibly well-fleshed out that you forget that it is a story, and not a real account. 

A lot of things seem to corroborate Eliot’s remark. In the city of Edinburgh, his birthplace, the ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’ memorial is a statue of Holmes. There is The Oscar Wilde Society, The Dickens Society, the three Brontë sisters have their own society, a search for a society for Mark Twain gives me at least 5 different names, numerous societies dedicated to Shakespeare (including an entire village, a 4-hour drive from where I live) and so on, you get the idea. But there is a singular Sherlock Holmes Society, celebrating the character rather than the author. In America, even during the time Doyle was alive, lax copyright laws led to what was almost ‘permitted piracy’ of the Holmes stories. He wasn’t too happy, but to quote Eliot again, ‘What has he got to do with Holmes?’. Thanks to it now being in the public domain, we’ve seen shows like Elementary and Enola Holmes, or books by new authors which seem to further dwarf Doyle and make him seem almost unimportant to the existence of the character. Holmes, more than any other character, feels like a whole other person in his own right.

“The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.”

It gets even more irregular when you consider his friendship with Harry Houdini, the illusionist. Arthur Conan Doyle was a staunch believer in spiritualism, the belief that we can communicate with the dead. 

Yes. The creator of the most rational, cold, logical mind in all of literature believed in ouija boards, spirits, mediums; you know, the works. Doyle also believed, without a shred of doubt, that Houdini was using some supernatural powers to perform his escape-acts. Houdini, a little insulted I imagine, gave Doyle proof that there was no such thing and it was all a result of intense practice and well-planned illusions but Doyle stood his ground. Their relationship became bumpy, with Doyle arguing that Houdini was coming up with elaborate explanations to conceal his powers. They fell out soon after. Oh, and by the way, the same man also went on to write the sentence, “The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.” in The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, a Holmes short story. 

The man was a bundle of irregularities.

I could go on endlessly about all the little details on why I feel Doyle feels so disconnected with what he created but instead here are some general things that I’ve turned over in my mind after a good two months of engaging with Doyle and Holmes: 

      1. You and what you do can have a working relationship, you don’t need to love it all the time. Despite the popular success of Sherlock Holmes even in his time, Doyle felt that he was wasting time on something that was cheap and low brow. He grew so sick of his creation that he killed it off in the story ‘The Final Problem’ but had to bring him back after unceasing protests by his readers. He isn’t the only author who grew to hate their own work. A.A Milne hated Pooh, Agatha Christie disliked Poirot, Louisa May Alcott disliked Little Women, the list really is endless. I think we as artists are our own severest critics and quite frankly, the worst judges of our work.

      2. Hating your own work is a great motivator. It pushed Doyle into immersing himself into writing nine incredibly detailed historical works and stories like The Lost World (which, I think, might even have served as an inspiration to Jurassic Park) with greater care. He didn’t want to be remembered for Holmes and he did everything in his creative power to ensure that.

      3. The conflict between your personal beliefs, or knowledge, and your artistic work can lead to something great. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, a book about an apparently demonic dog who is out to kill the Baskerville family, Doyle writes a character who rubbishes these fancy ideas and argues over and over for a scientific, reasonable explanation. I imagine that if he were real and should engage in a conversation with Doyle, he would admonish and mock him for the beliefs on spiritualism he held. I wonder, after reading lines such as “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” and “I never guess. It is a shocking habit—destructive to the logical faculty”, whether Doyle was using Holmes to write arguments against himself, engaging in a conversation of sorts. 
        To create a character who is so antithetical to what you stand for must have been a freeing exercise, allowing him to think a greater deal than he would have if he wrote about something he knew and believed in.
      4. It’s fine to view something you’re working on as a trifling moment in your life and imagine you were meant for greater things, but that’s no reason to slack on it. For all the hate he had for detective stories that he considered undignified, Doyle put his all into it. All of his stories, even the ones he was forced to write after bringing Sherlock back from the dead, are flawless and are analyzed in detail to this day.  To quote Holmes, ‘To a great mind, nothing is little’.

      5. Drop the delusions of grandeur. In the long run, you aren’t really all that important. People care more about what is created rather than who created it.

References:

  1.  “Profile by gaslight: an irregular reader about the private life of ….” https://www.abebooks.co.uk/Profile-gaslight-irregular-reader-private-life/30543002458/bd. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.
  2.  “THE MAN WHO HATED SHERLOCK HOLMES.” 29 Aug. 1999, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/the-man-who-hated-sherlock-holmes. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

3.  “The Strange Friendship Between Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur ….” 20 Mar. 2017, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/history-you-asked/how-did-sir-arthur-conan-doyle-trick-houdini. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

Aman Bhargava

Eating with Your Hands

Tales From the road begrudgingly traveled :
a comic in ten parts.

Anvay Sudame

  • The First Lines of Emails I’ve Received While Quarantining
  • Lie
  • Premise
  • Pick of the Web
  • Student Artist Spotlight
  • The Irregular Relationship Between Holmes & Doyle
  • Eating with Your Hands