On the cover: Then There Was Silence by Christiana Courceiro
What’s the story behind our cover art, ‘Then There Was Silence’?
It was a winter’s night in Lisbon and I couldn’t sleep. The Chinese restaurant on the ground floor of my building was louder than usual. I find some peace while working on my collages: hence ‘Then There Was Silence’. Although in this case there actually wasn’t.
And what does the piece make you think about?
For me it conjures up a feeling of secrecy, classified intelligence and spies during the Cold War. A divided world, a border, but in the midst of this, some quietness too.
How do you describe your work to people?
Collages, most of them simple and colourful. I always use photographic elements taken out of context and work to give them a new meaning and create
a new story. I think my style comes from experimenting, it’s the result of lots of work and a few lucky mistakes.
How did you become an artist and illustrator?
I’ve been making collages since I was a kid. Kids usually get over it – I guess I didn’t.
What has had the greatest influence on your work?
Going through my family photo albums or dusty boxes full of books, letters, labels and other ephemera always triggers something in me, it’s always my major influence. As my mother worked at the local library, I grew up with a huge number of books around me. And as a kid from the 1980s, the amazing interior designs and colour scheme of the 1950s house where we lived also made an impact.
What’s your studio like? How does your work day look?
My studio is a mix of harmony and chaos with white walls, a big window and a lot of old magazines and books. It’s located in a modernist neighbourhood of Lisbon, so it perfectly sets the tone for my everyday work. The pace of my days depends on how stressed my schedule is, whether it’s a day of experiments or of tight deadlines. Only two things never change: there is always music playing and at 5.30pm I take a break to play with my neighbour’s dogs.
Which news story in this period particularly grabbed your attention?
I can’t get around the ongoing tension between the US and North Korea. These are very unpredictable times. Locally, we had a cruel and deadly summer full of forest fires in Portugal, with over a hundred deaths. It’s a major national issue that hasn’t been properly addressed yet.
You can see more of Cristiana’s work – including an upcoming series of prints based on her travels – at cristianacouceiro.com
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