Here are some more images from the very impressive underground in Moscow. But enough about that, is it possible to talk about Russia and not mention politics and society?
People have been criticising the fact that the 2014 Winter Olympic games were arranged in Russia, a nation criticised for being corrupt, undemocratic and shuffling any opposition under the carpet while also being extremely homofobic. I am not arguing with that but I think we crossed that border when the Olympic games were arranged in Hitler's Germany or not so long a go in China? I was hoping that it would be a good thing as the world's eyes suddenly were focused on Russia and there was an opportunity for something to happen, but did the Olympic games change anything? Not that I am aware of. Some westerners making jokey films about homophobic Russia or getting dressed in rainbow colours were all very nice but changed nothing as far as I know, you still risk loosing your job, your home, your family and your children and to be abused and beaten up if it comes out that you are homosexual in Russia, and unfortunately it is not just happening in Russia but also in other parts of the world and it is makes me unbelievably sad and angry.
I was therefor very happy when I bumped into these two lovely ladies while exploring Moscow's underground stations and it feels very silly to take a photo and write about it, "Look, gay people on a train in Moscow!", but considering what these women are putting on stake for showing their love in public, I just had to. The train carriage was almost empty but the few people that were there did not seem to be bothered at all by this homosexual couple holding hands and we asked if it was okay if we took a picture of them just to show the world that yes, not every gay person who show in public is being attacked and also to show that love is a beautiful thing and should be celebrated and not just that, because I want to give these ladies a eulogy for being brave and standing up for themselves, respect to you, and also because I want to believe and hope that there might be hope even for an old dinosaur like Russia who confuse homosexuality with mental illness and pedophilia...
And while I am at it I also have to give a eulogy to another bunch of very cool women, standing on the front-line trying to make a change with the power of music while risking to loose it all; Pussy Riot.
I exhibited in Moscow and I did so with two great Russian illustrators and this little blog post will focus on one of them, MinaMilk. Mina and I studied illustration together at Camberwell College of Arts here in London and became very good friends and has worked on various projects together and I can still remember the first time that MinaMilk showed her drawings in a class, even the teachers were speechless, she grabs a pen, sips on some coffee and it looks like she is doodling but she is drawing up little pieces of art in a few seconds, let me show you some of her work which often is quite sexual, hand drawn and coloured in with everything from water-colours to tea bags;
MinaMilk's dream project is to walk into the wilderness and work with wild animals and make a book/performance/exhibition afterwards and her big passion is cats and she knows more about various species then I think all of us together and is dreaming about discovering new ones in the wild and recently went on a trip to Sri Lanka where she saw leopards in the wild.
I asked MinaMilk about the difference between living and working as a Illustrator in London compared to Russia and for a long time she has complained that it is very hard to get good art material as sketchbooks and good paper in Russia, I thought that she was exaggerating as I know how picky she is with her paper but after visiting Russia and some art shops I know that she unfortunately is right so we are trying to figure out a way for me to send her sketch books - which sounds easy but as most packages to Russia "get's lost", its actually not that easy at all… MinaMilk herself explains it like this;
"Of-course there is! In London it's less common that you have to explain that illustration actually is a profession and yes, that you want to get paid for it. In Russia there is more money but less chance to find it."
MinaMilk works with editorial illustration as well as fashion illustration, shop window displays, cards and stationary, products and installations. To see more of MinaMilk's work click here
I can't seem to stop posting images from my trip to Moscow and St Petersburg, I most have taken hundreds of images! Here's a little collection from my Instagram page. The cat in the picture is Hek and I love his knitted green jumper with two humping deers, brilliant! Me looking serious in a Russian hat by a desk was at a very random party at the museum of everything from Soviet Union, have you ever been at party in a museum before? And for the opening of our exhibition I had a special offer on my Animal Kingdom Bear T-shirt and to make it a bit more fun I put it on my man Ted, a giant bat that I doodled late at night. Thanks to everyone who came to the opening night, I had a great time and it was lovely to meet you all!
Here are some more images from my visit at the amazing Zoology museum in Moscow. Moscow felt very polluted, before I went there I used to think that London is polluted but now London feels like a fresh walk in the Alps! My friends said that they have some amazing sunsets in Moscow, pink and purple and all kinds of colours but its not very amazing as those colours come from pollution… I had a really good time though and got addicted to Russian strawberry and mint toothpaste and Nikolaj's pie's - they have three pie cafe's in Moscow, very good ;)