One of the fundamental principles behind Unit D is working within an environment very different to our own. This year, we are working Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) a city with a very traumatic past and recent conflict. Sarajevo was the site of the assassination of Franz Duke Ferdinand, which triggered the first world war, a communist state post the second world war and was subject to one of the most brutal conflicts of the 20th century with ethnic cleansing to a degree considered by some as a worse than the Nazi’s in WW2.
The conflict ended in 1995, this has left the country in a very difficult position, trying to rebuild itself with very little finances and ethnic tensions still underlying. This means that emotions can be very high and very raw. For a design unit who are expected to design in the relative comfort of Oxford, it was important that we capture this emotion to help us design with the Bosnian people in mind.
As inspiration, we turned to the works of artist, Wassily Kandinsky. Kandinsky’s art work captures a moment, an expression of a place and time and the raw emotion felt at the time. Moreover, they express ideas about conflicts and juxtapositions. Compositions allow imagination, interpretation, and emotional response that is not based on the literal or the descriptive, but rather on the abstract quality that painting.
I personally experimented with several different methods to express emotion, first through photography then ending on oil painting. Oil painting is a form of art I had never tried before yet when experimenting with the paint it allowed me to express my feelings about the place through the variety of different strokes and ways of applying the paint to the canvas. Furthermore, oil painting is a process of layering, this bared significant relevance to how I felt about Sarajevan people as they were so complex individuals. They are layered with moments of joy and moments of great sadness and conflict, with segregation from friends, the loss of loved ones and the overall upturning of the country.