THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
ELENA GUAL - AND THE POWER OF HER ENIGMATIC FEMALE PORTRAITS
Art and photography by Elena Gual.
Known for her expressive palette knife techniques and inimitable contemporary paintings, Elena Gual creates a powerful abstract series of female portraits. We spoke to the talented emerging artist about her heritage, her painting approach and her advice to anyone striving to stay creative
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Art and Photography: Elena Gual
03 November 2020
In the current climate the human condition is put to a test and art becomes an antidote to our everyday struggles. The symbiotic relationship between art and a progressive state of mind has never been on display in a more vivid way than it has been in the past few months. While many artists currently struggle to practice their crafts, it becomes undeniable that humans need creativity more than anything to survive times of uncertainty. On the path to becoming the next big artist, Elena Gual is the name that is bound to shine brighter with every inimitable painting she crafts.
London-based, Elena Gual is a Spanish contemporary portrait artist, whose unique palette knife paintings reflect a distinctive style while telling the stories of a diversity of women that have inspired her life and travels. Before joining a course in the Royal Academy in London, Elena’s classical training took her to Saint Martin’s School of Art. She had also graduated from the Florence Academy of Art where she spent three years mastering the academic drawing approaches of some of the greatest Renaissance painters in history. Elena’s education introduced her to the classical understandings of light, colours, composition, skin tones, cultures and anatomy, which she transformed through contemporary approaches into the key themes in her own inimitable style of painting.
“I like to say that my style is a mix of eras and centuries mixed in one to fit in the one we are currently living.”
Elena Gual for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
Elena Gual’s talent stretches beyond the classical narrative of art as a craft that fills life with beautiful aesthetics. Her vibrant paintings put an emphasis on women's significance in our society regarding equality. At the same time, Elena’s entrepreneurial talent trails a path of inspiration for many dynamic young women to follow. Her influence appeals to over 185,000 social media followers, while her undeniable talent and hard work gathered the attention of the Grove Square Galleries. The artistic world is faced with unprecedent investors demand, much of which gravitates towards talented emerging artists, whose work’s value is set to increase in the next five years. Elena Gual’s value at investment level sets her at the forefront of global collectors’ interest.
Known for her expressive palette knife techniques, adding unique texture to the otherwise inimitable contemporary paintings, Elena Gual creates powerful abstract series of enigmatic female portraits. We spoke to the talented emerging artist about her heritage, her painting approach and her advice to anyone striving to stay creative today.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Your paintings have a unique style. How did you develop such an original approach to painting, and do you find it challenging to maintain originality?
Elena: I studied at the Florence Academy of Art for three years, where I learned the techniques of the Old Masters in Classical paintings, my intention was never to become a realistic painter, but apply these techniques learnt in my future work. Once I graduated, I went back home, where I decided to experiment while carrying on with my classical portrait commissions, so I could make an income at the same time. While doing this I was still painting with brushes, but one day I had developed an allergic reaction to white spirit (a solvent used with brushes to paint with and to clean them with) which led me to think of other ways to paint without the use of it, so it was then when I started using palette knives. I was painting with the technique I knew but only substituting one material for another.
Originality was easily reached as this was very knew for me, therefore I carried on experimenting until reaching a form that connected with me, nowadays I find it very difficult to carry on with being creative, but I try to go to different contemporary art courses that help me learn how to think in new ways to carry on developing my own style.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What inspires your paintings?
Elena: Since a very young age Impressionists are definitely the artists that have mostly inspired me from becoming one to my most recent style of art. But I find that what led me to choose my main topic was travelling. I have been lucky enough to meet really strong women from all over the world, who had a very big impact in my work.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You moved from Spain to the UK to gain more artistic knowledge and exposure. How do you think England helped you grow as an artist?
Elena: My hometown has a beautiful history and great artists have enriched themselves from its nature, however I felt I had to get out of my comfort zone and get to know the art market as well as being able to attend more art courses. London's art scene is so diverse and full of possibilities that as an emerging artist I could not have thought of a better option. I now still work in the city, at Grove Square Galleries.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What do you implement in your work that comes from your Spanish roots?
Elena: I feel that my Spanish character is well reflected in every painting, the use of loud colours and bold palette knife strokes are a true representation of my culture, as well as my input on making every painting passionate for the viewer.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Congratulations on your collaboration with the Grove Square Gallery! Considering today’s unprecedent times and how much you have achieved as an artist, what is your advice to the people who strive to be creative today?
Elena: Thank you, I am so lucky I got to end up working with them! I had been working by myself for four years before starting with any gallery, so my best advice would be for artist not to give up after many no´s before achieving one of their goals, it takes time to achieve this, but with a lot of work and following what you really want it is only a matter of time for you to reach them.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You are a self-taught photographer. How do you experience the connection between photography and painting and how do you think the two co-exist in today’s world of art and social media?
Elena: It got to a point in my career that I had to decide which photograph was worth reflecting onto a painting and which was enough as it was. There are pictures that I even constantly decide to join, or to paint from 3 at a time, so the portrait that comes out in my canvas it's not as static as in a photograph and it has more depth to it.
In today's world there are way more photographers and way more painters, it is harder to stand out, therefore I feel that artists working in this field can draw attention by showing emotion and reflecting it in what they do, we have to look for a way to make people stop for a few seconds at our piece, and today that is one of the hardest things to achieve, making the audience pause.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You say that you build on the techniques of classic painters and academic work to create your own unique approach and representation of anatomy, composition, and light. How would you describe your own style?
Elena: I like to say that my style is a mix of eras and centuries mixed in one to fit in the one we are currently living. A Renaissance drawing with colours and textures from the Impressionists with a contemporary approach.
NOMADSofORIGIN: How long does it take to complete a painting?
Elena: Every painting takes me a different timing to complete, I could take from 3 weeks to complete a small one to only four days to do a big one or vice versa, this is because of the struggles I could come upon with while doing the piece but the most time consuming is the process behind each piece, the idea, composition or choice of colours.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Do you accept commissions, or all your work is sold on demand?
Elena: I rarely do, currently I try to connect with the viewer by my own choice of topic.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Thank you for this interview! Is there something that you would like to add?
Elena: Thank you so much for your interest in my art, it means a lot that your magazine wanted to have me as part of it.
Photography: Aura House
Photography: Aura House
View the paintings online
See below some of the portraits we love. Follow Elena on social media.
NOMADSofORIGIN x Elena Gual