What is it about ?
A one-month artist’s residency on the legendary Transsiberian railway, involving a collaboration between a writer and an illustrator. This multicultural art project will enable us to explore the heart of the largest country in the world through art, literature and storytelling.
We will spend about a month travelling (one week on the train, plus stopovers in Suzdal, Vladimir, Kazan, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Novossibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan-Ude and Vladivostok). The journey will be an opportunity to create bridges between three different countries – Russia, France and the UK. We have established cultural partnerships with the Gaelic Society of Moscow, the Storytelling Society of Moscow and other associations to organise cross-cultural events including sketch exhibitions, folktale storytelling and discussions.
So who are we ? Just two friends who happen to very complimentary : Bettina’s an artist, and I, Adele, am a writer. We also share a long-term passion for Russia, its language, culture and history. From there it was not long till one of us suggested : “Why don’t we go on the Transsiberian together ?”And hence the Transsiberian art project was born...
• Art : Our journey will be an opportunity to sketch people, landscapes and cities on the spot in order to capture slices of modern Russia to be included in an illustrated book or exhibited. Bettina has a particular interest in the art of printmaking and, in addition to sketches and watercolour paintings, she will also be collecting material for future prints of her own, and drawing inspiration from Russian art (paintings, icons, illustrations etc.).
• Literature : With 5700 miles and 9 time zones from Moscow to Vladivostok, the Transsiberian railway is one of the most exciting journeys of all time. The very word “Transsiberian” instantly conveys images of wilderness and the charm of one of the last modern journeys that still feels like a true adventure. It still holds a real fascination to explorers and armchair travellers alike, yet there is a real lack of “coffee-table” literature on this fantastic railway. During our journey, we will be sketching, writing and interacting with the locals to create an illustrated travel book that will be of interest to any travel enthusiast.
The idea is to offer a personal insight into real Russia through a book that will be helpful to any would-be Transsiberian-hopper, but will also be an art book in its own right. The book will first be published in French, my native language, but we are planning to have it published in English subsequently (and of course our backers will be the first to know !)
• Storytelling : One of the highlights of our stay in Russia will be an intercultural evening hosted by the Storytelling Society and the Gaelic Society of Moscow, where we will be telling Celtic tales with live illustrations. During our journey, we will be collecting traditional folktales from our different stopovers, with a view to sharing them upon our return at the Storytelling centre in Edinburgh and in primary schools in Brittany. We might also compile them into an illustrated children’s book at a later date. But we also want to hear personal stories from our fellow travellers, share a meal or a glass of vodka on the train and listen to the voice of the locals, their anecdotes and their opinions (we’re even hoping for someone to break into song after a few glasses). What better way to get to know authentic Russia ?
It is important for us to make the most of our collaboration by choosing projects involving both writing and art, such as creating an illustrated travel book or organising storytelling sessions with live drawing. While we already have a number of projects planned along the way, our Transsiberian art project will also grow and evolve during the journey itself. It will be shaped by the people that we meet, the connections we make, the places we discover and by our challenges and experiences. It will be an inspirational journey, but above all it will be the start of a journey to be continued here in the UK, and shared with anyone interested in art and travelling. Will you join us ?
So who are we ?
Bettina and I met at the rock dancing club of our home university one dreary October evening. We immediately hit it off and have been giggling stupidly together ever since (if we do the maths, it has been about ten years, which involves a lot of giggling).
- Bettina Egger is a graphic novel artist and author. Her work has been strongly influenced by Russian culture and literature. She has illustrated Russian folktales and recently published a graphic novel in French, Le Dragon (The Dragon), after a play by Evgeny Schvartz. She is currently working on a biography of famous Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov as a graphic novel. She was born in Austria and enjoys yodelling in the Tyrol. Well, not really. She now lives in Brittany, France, where she has been enjoying eating crepes and drinking too much coffee for about 10 years.
- Adele David is a literary English-French translator and writer. She has published several books in translation on various topics (political science, life stories, cooking, non-fiction...) and is specialised in poetry translation.
A native of Brittany (France), she loves rainy Celtic countries and shares her time between Scotland and Brittany. She has a passion for storytelling and spends too much time at the Scottish storytelling centre of Edinburgh instead of looking for a proper job.
She is also a regular contributor to popular website La Boîte à Séries, reviewing British TV series.
What’s in it for you ?
Fancy supporting us ? Great ! You will not regret it. So what will you be supporting exactly ?
- You will be helping us towards the cost of our one-month journey and enable us to meet people, collect stories and make sketches on the spot, so we can create an illustrated travel book about our journey and gather material for future art projects.
- You will be supporting a cross-cultural exchange between Russia, France and the UK, which will reinforce the links between all three countries through art and storytelling.
In return for your precious support, we have come up with some goodies for our backers :
- Pledge 20£ or more : Backers will receive a 4,5"x 6" original limited edition print by Bettina Egger, numbered and signed by the artist + Regular updates about any upcoming events (talk, exhibition, etc.)
- Pledge 40£ or more : Backers pledging 40£ or more will receive an 8"x12" original limited edition print by Bettina Egger, numbered and signed by the artist + A digital portfolio of our journey, with a selection of colour sketches and photos + Regular updates about any upcoming events (talk, exhibition, etc.)
And a little bonus : all our backers will have their name credited in the book !
The printmaking process
(Note : example only. The limited edited print for our backers will be a new image inspired by our trip on the Transsiberian).
Risks and challenges
Fortunately for us, the Russian language shouldn’t be too much for a barrier during the journey. Bettina is already fluent, and I have been working hard to brush up on my own Russian skills ! We both studied Russian at Rennes University, France, and attended a one-month Russian course at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, so we already know the country fairly well.
Despite planning our journey carefully, we have to be prepared for the unexpected and remain flexible. Nevertheless, this is all part of the adventure and we will no doubt encounter more than a few surprises on the way. Russian bureaucracy can be a little tedious so we will probably have to do our fair share of paperwork and show our passports one too many times. Well, nothing that will really damper our enthusiasm !
As for the travel book, we have already secured an agreement with a French publisher, and will be promoting it to British publishers subsequently.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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