Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Maccabiah Games

The 20th Maccabiah Games recently took place here in Israel. Often referred to as the "Jewish Olympics", it is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes competing. The Games are held every four years, the year following the Olympic Games. The best Jewish athletes from throughout the world, as well Israeli athletes regardless of religion, compete in Open, Masters, Juniors, and Disabled competitions. The athletes compete on behalf of 85 countries, in 45 sports.
The name Maccabiah was chosen after Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader who defended his country from King AntiochusModi'in, Judah's birthplace and the city where I happen to live, is also the starting location of the torch that is used to light the flames at the opening ceremony, a tradition that started at the 4th Maccabiah.
Several young people who I know played in the Maccabiah Games. One particular young lady, Ma'ayan, was chosen to represent Israel in the Junior netball competition. Her proud Mum asked me to make her a Good Luck card. She was very specific with her request. She wanted me to show her daughter wearing the navy blue dress with a light blue stripe running down the side of it that she was to wear in the competition. I made sure to add the appropriate badges. Her position, Wing Defence, had to appear prominently on the front of her dress. I was also asked to show her holding the "Israel" netball they were going to use in the competition. Finally, I added the Maccabiah 2017 logo and also the branding used for the netball itself.
Apparently the young lady was delighted with her card. Out of interest, I went to see their first game. Israel put up a great fight against Great Britain. Ultimately they lost but they played amazingly.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Dan Reisinger

The award-winning Israeli designer Dan Reisinger has created some of Israel's most well-known graphics, and is renowned for his innovative use of symbols and vibrant visual language. An exhibition at the Israel Museum, In Full Color: 60 Years of Design by Dan Reisinger, opened in June and I was recently lucky enough to see it. The exhibition highlights the wide range of Reisinger's work in both style and size: from business cards and keyrings, to buildings and large-scale supergraphics. It includes the designs he created for private companies, as well as public organizations such as the Tel Aviv Municipality, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Habimah National Theatre and El Al Israel Airlines. It was a wonderful exhibition and I couldn't tear myself away from it!
Born in 1934 in Kanjiza, Serbia, Reisinger lost several family members in the Holocaust, including his father. He survived the Nazi occupation in a hideout and as a teenager became active in the partisan Pioneer Brigade, immigrating with his mother and stepfather to the new State of Israel in 1949. Reisinger initially lived in a transit camp and then worked as a house painter in order to earn money from almost any source. He later attended Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design as the youngest student accepted to the school at that time.
In 1954, Reisinger served in the Israeli Air Force, where he put his design skills to use art directing military publications. During this time in the Air Force he attended a class on postage-stamp design taught by the British graphic designer Abram Games, who became his mentor and friend. Subsequently, Reisinger travelled, studied, and worked in Europe: from 1957 in Brussels and then onto London where, from 1964–66, he studied stage and three-dimensional design at the Central School of Art and Design. He designed posters for Britain's Royal Mail, and worked for other clients while making intermittent visits to Israel. In 1966 he returned permanently to Israel and established his Dan Reisinger Studio in Tel Aviv. The same year he was commissioned to design the Israeli Pavilion at the Expo '67 in Montreal.

Reisinger soon became one of the most prolific Israeli designer of his generation and won many prizes. He designed a new logo for El Al (1972), and the 50-meter-long aluminium-cast relief of a biblical quotation in Hebrew on the exterior of Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims in Jerusalem (1978). He designed three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) decorations: the Medal of Valor, the Medal of Courage and the Medal of Distinguished Service. He also created the logos for the Tel Aviv Museum of Arts, Tefen Museum of Arts, and Habima National Theatre, and the symbol and posters of the 9th-15th Maccabiah Games.
Reisinger's widely published self-produced poster, "Again?" (1993), above, features a Nazi swastika (which he incorrectly made to face left) breaking apart to form a five pointed red star of the Soviet Union, in reference to the possible dreaded repeat of the Holocaust. His "Let my people go" poster (1969) was actually a petition to the USSR authorities to let the Jewish people get out of the nation’s borders and immigrate to the Jewish nation. It was used in the demonstrations and served the demonstrators in their struggle.
He had his first solo exhibition at the Israel Museum Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 1976-77, and has since exhibited his works in Israel and around the world in numerous group and one-person exhibitions. In 1998 Reisinger was awarded the Israel Prize - one of the state’s highest honours - the first designer to be the recipient of such an award, exactly 40 years after his first award, the 1958 Brussels Expo first medal for poster design. For his 70th birthday, the Hungarian Government honoured Reisinger with a comprehensive one man show at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest.
There is no doubt that Reisinger's work has had a significant impact on the development of design in Israel, which continues to be felt to the present day. One of his more significant contributions has been to stretch the visual and communicative possibilities of Hebrew letters through his symbols and logos. His unique style is colourful and modern, playful in some posters and making provocative, impactful statements in others.
Reisinger still dedicates himself to painting and design today, and frequently takes part in international events as a jury member and lecturer. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and the New York Art Directors Club, an honorary professor at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, and an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Design, the committee of the International Biennale of Graphic Design Brno, and the Israel Designers Association.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Lily's Bat Mitzvah

Lily wanted me to design a customised invitation for her Bat Mitzvah, just as I had done for her brother Ariel back in 2015. Mum asked for the same format as her son's invitations, with a background box and the lettering, this time saying Lily's Bat Mitzvah at the top and then once again in Hebrew at the bottom. She sent me a list of her daughter's interests which included soccer, art, swimming, the beach, reading and baking. She also suggested that I show Lily wearing a T-shirt and shorts, and was keen for me to highlight her gorgeous curly brown hair too.
I have shown Lily sitting down, with a blue sky and sandy beach in the background. There is a red and yellow beach flag in the sand. In Australia, this shows the supervised area of the beach and that a lifesaving service is operating. If there are no red and yellow flags, you should not go swimming. Lily is wearing a black T-shirt and red shorts. She has a bunch of pencils and a paintbrush to represent her interest in art in her right hand. In front of her is a black and white football, and next to her a small pile of books. I also added a little iced cupcake covered in hundreds and thousands to illustrate her love of baking.
Lily was going to have an an ice skating party as part of her Bat Mitzvah celebrations, so Mum asked me if I could create a little penguin to add to the corner of the text as well. "The penguin is adorable!" she wrote to me. I think he, or she, might have even been more popular than Lily's paper portrait!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Such a Long Journey

My goodness me, this card has a story to tell! In August 2016 a customer in the US requested a customised card for her friend Nhi. I mailed the card to her on 31st August and it took 9 months to arrive at it's destination! Yes, you read that correctly. 9 whole months. It was a good thing that my customer asked me to put "Belated" in the birthday greeting! Now, I do want to point out that this is not a regular occurrence. I am happy to report that the mail generally works well for me. This was one of the very few times that something has got lost and I pretty much thought that it was gone forever. I would so love to know where that card has been all this time and perhaps what places it has visited...
Nhi is Vietnamese in origin. She has long black hair and her friend, my customer, told me that she is very pretty! I was asked to include a picture of  Lola, her Lakeland Terrier, on the card, and to add a sewing machine, a Hermes purse showing the logo, a french pastry (I chose croissants and a cream-filled éclair - yummy!), a diamond and finally, a sun with a line through it suggesting that she hates heat.
My customer added that "She is coming here in October, so you have time. No rush." Famous last words. 
Well, Nhi finally got her special card and actually, it was three months early for her birthday THIS year! She wrote on Facebook that "It's one of the best cards I've ever seen."  She seemed thrilled with it and apparently plans to frame it.
All's well that ends well, I guess!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The British Empire Medal

A lady who lives in the same city as me saw one of my customised cards and contacted me to ask me if I could create a card for her Mum. She had just received the British Empire Medal for her work and dedication with her dance charity Magpie Dance, which she founded over 30 years ago. Her daughter thought that it would be nice to congratulate her with one of my cards.
My customer sent me a picture of her Mum proudly wearing her award. Mum is a dancer and artistic director, she told me. The dance company is for adults and children with learning disabilities and it is contemporary dance, very modern.
Together we decided to show Mum in the black and white outfit she wore to collect her award. I suggested adding the Magpie Dance logo and some papercuts and pictures of the dancers as well.
Whilst I was away I was delighted to receive a message from her, letting me know how pleased Mum was with her special card. "Just gave the card to my mum and she was thrilled. She said what a clever woman, she even got it down to the dress!"
Shortly afterwards she got in touch again and requested a card for her friend's 40th birthday. Her name is Max and she is an amazing spiritual individual, she said. She does breathwork, acupuncture and inner dance (spiritual dance through a sound healing journey). She is spiritual, mindful, fun, quirky, mother earth. She is originally from the UK, travelled to Australia when she was young, loves camping, just led and did a red tent spiritual retreat, leads Breathe & Receive workshops,  as well as running her business Helping Hands. Lastly, her favourite saying is "Honor your truth" she said. I think that there was more than enough to work with!
I showed Max with her hands clasped together in the namaste gesture, which signals welcome and union in a symbolic way. Candles, a lotus flower, a hand receiving some acupuncture treatment, and a red tent surround her, along with a little green tent to represent her love of camping, and the logos of her businesses. To finish off the card, I included her favourite saying.
Lastly, Sophie was turning 20. Her auntie asked me for a card which showed off her niece's baking skills. She has her own business called Sophie's Sweet Treats. She sent me a photo of some of the cakes Sophie has made, and requested a cake or two on the card. I picked out a very fancy chocolate cream cake from the photo, and added a couple of cupcakes and a wooden spoon. A bold number 20 finished the card off nicely.

* This post has been shared on Wednesday around the World, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop, Wow Us Wednesdays, Moonlight and Mason JarsArtsy-FartsyShare Your Cup Thursday, The Homemaking PartyLittle Things Thursday and Happiness is Homemade.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Festival of Light in Jerusalem 2017

The Festival of Light in Jerusalem is an annual event which attracts hundreds of thousands of people from Israel and abroad. It's one of my favourite festivals. Visitors are invited to stroll along the paths of the Old City, taking in the magical atmosphere of the Old City walls and cobblestone streets which are illuminated with an amazing variety of modern light art installations, created by both local and international artists. This year was the 9th festival and my fourth visit. You can read about my previous visits here, here and here. We didn't go last year because honestly we were a little afraid to walk around parts of the Old City at night, but this year the pull was too great for me and we simply avoided walking to the Damascus Gate, which has sadly seen far too many terror attacks in recent times.
Unlike previous years, where several routes were offered taking us through different areas of the Old City, this year there was just one long route, which took us from one art installation to another. I actually preferred it this way, though the arrows marking the way were sometimes hard to see in the dark. Exhibits this year included a giant illuminated puppet, big glowing bunnies, and spinning tops made from LED lights hovering and dancing above the cardo. I'm going to say at this point that this year was not my favourite year. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed with some of the exhibits, though there were definitely some incredible pieces that are worth mentioning here.
I found the audiovisual show, which told the story of the unification of the City of Jerusalem on the walls from Zahal Square to Jaffa Gate, so moving, even though it was hard to see it all with so many people around, and I absolutely loved the "Solaris" projection, created by Visualsupport of Poland, on the Hurva Synagogue, a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. We were mesmerized by the magical sounds, kaleidoscope of energetic colours and colourful patterns, so much so that we watched it twice! As you can see from the photos below, it was quite stunning.
"Moon Haze", a huge, radiant 10-metre moon placed on Tiferet Israel Street and created by Feng Jiacheng and Huang Yuanbei of China, allowed us to reach the moon, while "Journey into Space" at the junction of New Gate Road and Ha Achim Pereire Street, created by Israel's Moshe Kimchi, hovered overhead and reminded us of science fiction movies. From there the route led us to New Gate and out from the Old City Walls.
Finally, the "HeartBeat" installation created by GNI Projects, UK, deserves a mention. By joining hands in front of the sculpture, a circuit was completed and a pulsing heart was revealed. Once the connection was lost, the heart was broken into fragments again. It was a fun interactive experience, great for lovers, family and friends, and for us it was a fun way to end a special evening in Jerusalem.

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