The Wildfires in Portugal

It was only last Sunday that Portugal saw yet another wave of wildfires spreading across the country. A total of 523 occurences were registered, mainly in the centre and north regions of the country, making this Portugal’s “worst day of the year” for fires. The conditions were worsened by Hurricane Ophelia, as it approached Europe’s western coast, bringing strong winds to fan and spread the flames.

On Monday, we found out one of the wildfires, in Vieira de Leiria, had destroyed about 80% of the Pinhal de Leiria, a 700-year-old pine forest which is part of Leiria’s identity. Leiria is my hometown, and I very much cherished that forest. It was the background to many of my memories growing up.

The news about the forest was something that really brought me down. I felt upset, making it difficult to stay productive and motivated regarding my work. However, it came to me that I could use these recent events in my project to make it even more personal. Perhaps I could try to pay a tribute to the forest and what was lost in the fire.

As an example, here is an image made by graphic designer João Diogo, just after the news broke. It reflects the destruction of the pine forest and its connection to D. Dinis, the king who originally decided to plant it.


How a logo saved New York

If, like me, you’re a millennial, it is hard to imagine a time when New York wasn’t one of the most touristic places in the entire world. However, there was such time; a time in which New York almost “disappeared” from the maps. “The streets were filthy, crime was its highest level in history, a heroin and cocaine epidemic had gripped the city, and many neighborhoods had fallen into disrepair. (…) To put it plainly, this was not a city people wanted to visit.”

The situation in New York would get only more dire in the years that followed. Despite numerous reforms — including raising subway fares, closing several public hospitals, and reducing salaries — the city was running out of money. If nothing was to be done, New York would be officially bankrupt.

New York desperately needed something to change. Its image was in tatters, visitors were staying away out of fear, corporations were relocating, and residents found little to love about their own city.

Around this time, the state of New York was looking for a new campaign to encourage tourism. Rebuilding NYC’s image, though, had to be the priority of their efforts. An advertising agency was hired to develop the campaign; simultaneously, graphic designer Milton Glaser was asked to design a logo based off the theme the agency came up with: I Love New York

The campaign was brutally successful, appearing to have awakened something within New Yorkers as well – suddenly, the locals seemed to have rediscovered pride in their city. While the “I [heart] NY” logo might not have single-handedly changed the image of the city and reversed its fortunes, it was certainly crucial to the campaign, having acted as a catalyst for New Yorkers behavioural shift.

(*) This logo was designed about 40 years ago, yet official merchandise stamped with Glaser’s design still generates more than $30 million a year.



Manuja Waldia

The Pelican Shakespeare series is a collection I’ve fell in love with at first sight. For these electrifying covers, Waldia was awarded a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators.

Bianca Oggiano

Bianca is a Shillington graduate and a practitioner in graphic design. Originally from Milan, in Italy, she is currently based in London.

Nina Cosford

Nina Cosford is a London-based illustrator who has worked for companies such as Nokia, Bloomberg, House of Illustration, The Foundling Museum and more.

Matthias Wentink

Matthias Wentink created a series of icons for both Amsterdam and Rotterdam as part of a proposal for a city branding project.

Massimo Vignelli

Vignelli was an Italian designer, considered to be one of the greatest of our time, best known for designing an iconic yet controversial version of the New York City subway map in 1970.

Alex Foster

Alex has worked for clients such as Roald Dahl, the Evening Standard, Air Canada, American Express, Airbnb, M&S and more. He graduated in 2013 from Middlesex University and won a World Illustration Award in 2015.

Ingela Peterson Arrhenius

Ingela is a Sweden-based illustrator with a very naive style. She has been commissioned for creating print patterns for fabrics, wallpaper, stationery, as well as packaging, product design, home accessories and toys.

Picasso: Linocuts

Photo by my friend, Erika Ivanova

Picasso: Linocuts from the British Museum is an exhibition developed by the The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, which explores the artist’s expressive and experimental works with linocut techniques. Produced when Picasso was over eighty years old, “Still Life under the Lamp”, “Jacqueline Reading” and “Nude Woman at the Spring” highlight his skilful yet risky approach.

Picasso being one of my favourite artists of the 20th century, I knew I would very much like this exhibition. However, I was disappointed to notice how limited the display was, consisting of pretty much only three examples of this artist’s linocuts experiments. There was simply not much to see there.

Apart from that, the space where the linocuts were displayed did not do them great justice, in my opinion. Instead of an art gallery, I rather felt I was in a Science museum, learning the steps to achieve a certain outcome. Perhaps that was exactly what the curator intended; but however interesting it was, as a student, to understand the processes behind each piece, the way in which they were presented didn’t feel very inspiring.

Coventry Biennial

What can Coventry offer the world? What can the world offer Coventry?
And how does the international centre of peace and reconciliation respond to rising injustice, fear, misundertanding and hatred around the world?” 

The inaugural Coventry Biennial intends to answer these questions through contemporary art, in the form of artworks, exhibitions and activities. Local artists, their colleagues from the wider region and some of the leading international practitioners contemplate the future in its many possible shapes, sizes and perspectives through a dual lens – that of this historic phoenix of a city, and the works of artists from other cultures, times and walks of life.

According to the artist and festival director Ryan Hughes, Coventry needs the biennial to bring the visual arts to the forefront of the city’s cultural offer.“The city has a rich history of visual art but perhaps in recent times there has been more focus on performance and music.” This is particularly important at the moment, as Coventry is one of the cities shortlisted for City of Culture 2021, and the city council has published a new 10 year strategy for cultural growth and support.

The biennial aims to be a vehicle for driving that support towards visual artists in the city and region, and for educating audiences in Coventry around their own visual heritage through engagement with contemporary practices.

Photo of The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum by my friend Erika Ivanova

As for my own experience of the festival, I have a lot of mixed feelings. I will be posting reviews of some of the exhibitions we visited later on. For now, I must say we found the whole thing a bit frustrating  – although most spaces were meant to be open until 6pm, we found many closed before that time, making it impossible for us to visit all the exhibitions we intended to.