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alena kudriashova

reflective journal

october - december 2012

All the pictures in this book are made by the author. Except for the one where she is busy, drawing. When writing

about oneself, one must strive

to be truthful.

Truth is more important than

modesty. ~

Roald Dahl, “Boy: Tales of Childhood”

table of contents 1. looking at the stars 2. pulling carpets 3. dreamers of dreams 4. quirky creatures 5. a little magic 6. playing games 7. building windmills 8. a dream place


We are all in the gutter,

but some of us

are looking at

the stars. ~ Oscar Wilde

looking at the stars For several years I was trying to find out what I would actually like to do and, what is more important, who I am within my professional life. Architecture, restoration, interior design, illustration, I have tried a lot of things in order to find out what would be an excellent fit for me. Finally I have chosen this course, as I intuitively felt that this is the right place to be for a person like me. Now I’m not going to make an “experienced” or any serious face at all. I’m just playing this new interesting game, and wherever it comes, I am going to enjoy every single bit of it.

2. Pull this

huge carpet

out... and stick it

on to the ceiling! ~

Roald Dahl, “The Twits”

pulling carpets Placing myself into an uncomfortable situations has always been my favourite game. I am not saying that I arrange it on purpose all the time, although sometimes I do that, but I quite enjoy this if it happens. Because I remind myself that the best work I have ever done, the highest growth, the fastest improvement I have ever experienced was always happening in a place named “uncomfortable”. Of course it is usually very difficult and extremely stressful. Besides, I am not a too patient or a quiet person, which is another reason to challenge myself in order to improve. The very first day in college made me understand that it is not going to be the most relaxed year of my life. I can not say that I could forget everything I had learnt so far, quite the contrary. It appeared to be very helpful knowing how to draw and to use software or how to work with information, so my diploma and experience is very handy here indeed. But it is not going to be something new to anybody on this

course if I say that the process itself and the approach are very different to what I used to, therefore very stressful. I am scared and even more I am confused, but at the same time I feel some kind of excitement. It feels as if this year is going to bring great change not only into my life but also to my mind and personality.


3. We are the

music makers,

and we are

the dreamers of

dreams. ~

Roald Dahl


dreamers of dreams When it came to making an abstract model, my mind hung. My first attempt was to create something more or less architectural. Something similar to what we used to make when I was studying architecture in Russia. It was quite difficult to give up this cosy idea, but I had to do it, because I thought what have I come here for? Do what I used to do in Russia? No way. Putting intuition as my priority at this stage, I started with letting a child inside my head out. Collecting things around the place I live in was definitely amusing both for squirrels and pigeons and people passing me by in a local garden. Small crooked twigs from under the trees, stones with holes found on a lawn around the dorm, a thorny chestnut pile, left by a squirrel, and a feather were gathered and brought home. I painted them all white, still without any purpose, and then decided to make a mobile (a kinetic sculpture, moving in response to air currents).

I was just creating something, not really thinking of it or planning it in advance. That was so much fun. At some point I realized that it was the model I was making that told me what to do next. I guess, this is the moment when I started learning how to be free. How to make a choice without all the unnecessary thoughts influencing it. Anyway I have to practice this ability more often in order to get used to do it automatically without too much forcing myself into that.

4. Grown-ups

are quirky creatures, full of quirks and

secrets. ~

Roald Dahl, “Danny, the champion of the world”

quirky creatures One of the most difficult things I have to deal with on this course is people. I had never met so many such different people in one place. It is especially hard when it comes to different nationalities with their own mentality, perception and stereotypes. It is painful to learn not only how to work in teams with all this bunch of surprises, but also how to even just speak to them, because you never know how they will take your words or what offends them. Some of them manage to turn what I say upside down and there is no way to proof them they took my words wrong because they do not hear you! Although communication is not a real easy thing for me, especially after half a year of working freelance, I somehow try to associate with as many people as possible. This is not only helps me to make many interesting (well, and useful of course) contacts, but also teaches me some helpful things.

- I learn to be kind. - I learn to share. - I learn patience. - I learn to think before saying. - I learn to say nothing.

- I learn to ignore. - I learn to listen. - I learn to reply. - I learn to explain things. - I learn to learn.


A little magic

can take you a

long way. ~

Roald Dahl, “The boy”

a little magic As soon as the term started I decided, that I am going to draw my project by hand. Easy to decide, but not that easy to implement. Being an illustrator I do a lot of hand-drawing, but it appeared to be far not the kind of drawing I needed for the projects. I had to not only change my style of picturing things but, which is more important, my way of thinking of what I draw and why. I have found a lot of sources of inspiration from books and people to the things surrounding me. Only sketching around, I have started to pay attention to things that matter and learn how to leave aside those that do not. It appeared to be applicable to my every day life too. A very useful skill indeed. Drawing, I also learn how to be selective. I guess most people have lost their ability to chose important things at he point when recording information had become as easy as it is nowadays. We take photos not even thinking much of what it is exactly we documented. How many of those moments we took photos of we actually remember?

This thought has really disturbed me. Why do I take all these photos? Do I want to see the world and my life through a camera? Or do I actually want to see all of this? Then I decided to try following: I left my camera at home, carrying with me only my sketchbook and went to Portobello Market. There were so many things I would usually photograph, but since it was rather cold, I had only the sketchbook with me and it was getting dark, I had to choose something in order to record it. Besides, it is pretty difficult taking your notebook out despite of all of these people around, so the thing should really worth being that brave.

That was it! The only thing that came across my mind was this exciting stall where I saw several huge pans of paella, being cooked by two people who was dancing, shouting and enlivening the whole area around. So I started to sketch the place, this time not trying hard on getting lines straight, but rather capturing the spirit. All of a sudden I got rewarded for all the torture I had put myself into. Nick, the owner of the stall, offered me a free plate of paella for a promise to e-mail him the sketch. Would I get such experience if I just took a photo and move on?... As a result of 2 month of sketching I find myself drawing in two different ways. First is a more architectural one, where I am studying the ways things around me are

organised, related and so on. Second is a kind of drawing where I allow myself not to think hard of the rules and limits and that gives me some rest from the first one, rather focusing on the emotional part of what I see. I also have noticed that when I can’t explain something I tend to grab a piece of paper and draw, which I had never done before. This moment when I have to take my sketchbook out ant start drawing is still rather agonizing to me, especially if there are a lot of people around. But I shall keep working on it, because it is not only about starting a sketch, it is just as much about starting anything be it a project or a new life-step.

6. Life is more

fun if you play games. ~

Roald Dahl, “My Uncle Oswald”

playing games I think there is another thing I must not forget to mention. I am talking about our Christmas Tree project. It is amazing how much one could do in a short period of time. That was a very intense week. Exchanging ideas, experimenting, looking for inspiration, planning a budget. Within this week we actually did more then we had done during two month of studies. Not to mention how great it is to win this competition and get a chance to actually build what we had designed. What a marvellous experience I must say! Reflecting on that, I myself found that it is difficult to work in a group where there are more than 3-5 people, especially if there is no hierarchy within the group. In this case it gets less efficient as I think. Anyway, the group was great and we become good friends after that. The experience was magnificent the result was rewarding and the tree (I do not have to be modest here, do I?) looked gorgeous!

7. When the wind

blows, some

people build walls, others build

windmills. ~

Peter Hawkins

building windmills Another thing that was difficult to take was I have to share ideas and knowledge with other people in order to learn something back. I have realized, that the less something is worth sharing, the more it’s owner is afraid to share it with others. I actually stopped worrying about such things after our first course exhibition when the next tutorial I found out that one of the students blindly borrowed something from my work not even trying to look deeper into the reason why I did this particular thing. This incident made me understand, that people simply can not copy anything from each other without changing it into something “their”. Moreover, if they do copy and they were not smart enough to make it better then it was, then there is nothing to be sorry about. But if they make your idea work in a different way or even better, still there is nothing to be jealous about too. Because you have just got something to learn from.

Again, learning this was not easy experience, there were a lot of pretty unpleasant feelings to go through here. But was I not keen to learn how to be patient and reasonable?

8. I’ve heard

tell that what you imagine

sometimes comes

true. ~

Roald Dahl, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

a dream place While researching collector’s houses and their collections I found a house mentioned in one of the books. It has a strange name (but which house in England does not?) and situates in Cambridge. This was literally love at first sight. The next day I found myself on a train towards Cambridge. The Kettle’s Yard, this is the name of the house, is open only two hours a day. All two hours I spent there gazing around with my mouth open, sitting in every chair I can spot and wishing I could live in this lovely house. Please may I stay there as a house sprite? I promise to behave! No, two hours was far not enough to enjoy the place. This is not just a collection being displayed, this is a collection being a part of every day life. Lots of lovely details often hidden in quite unlikely places. After 5 minutes I found myself “treasure-hunting” around the house, peeping in every corner or opening I could.

This day was significant not only for me myself, but determined the direction of my course project. Something has changed in my mind since then. As never before I have thought of how many things we miss while chasing things we do not really need. So many precious simple moments are disappearing not even being noticed.

I’m wondering

what to read next. I’ve finished

all the children’s books. ~

Roald Dahl, “Matilda”

Reflective Journal, term 1  

A course work within GD Interior design course at Chelsea college of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London. Written by a student fr...