Nothing is more dear to an artist than her work. Artists pour their thoughts, emotions, and dreams into their creations. Every inch has a meaning, every color a story of its own. This is why our philosophy is to celebrate the artist as much as their work. One does not exist without the other and the artwork would not be what it is without the artist’s experiences.
One of the most intricate artworks in our collection is the Night Gazelle scarf, created by Anna Simkin. This work was drawn completely by hand in the original size of the finished scarf. It’s a composition that took over 3 months to complete and challenged the artist’s technique many times over. A few sentences cannot begin to describe the inspiration and energy that was invested in creating this masterpiece. Therefore, we are thrilled to reproduce Anna Simkin’s own description of the journey behind the creation of Night Gazelle.
“A night in the forest. One night, while you walk through the forest of bliss, take a rest among the sacred flowers surrounded by ancient trees. Lay your head on the soft grass and breathe in the enchanting smell of the flowers. See the night sky looking back at you. Close your eyes, but keep open the eye that will see the spirit of the forest emerge from the stars, reaching to you, as much as you are reaching to it.”
– Anna Simkin
Three Months with the Forest of Divine Feminine
Part I – The Seed
How it started
A few weeks after I last arrived to Varanasi (India), I got a proposition from R. Culturi to participate in a very interesting project – designing a scarf for a female audience.
Since I can remember, I have always been (and still am) looking for magic in this world. One of its aspects that fascinates me is the concept of the Divine Feminine. This was one of the reasons I became very excited about a project that gave me the opportunity to design a scarf for women, in any way I choose.
The other reason I was excited about it was the size of the scarf. The design would be printed on 120 square centimeters. My work is usually very detailed and almost never exceeds 30 centimeters. It would be my first time drawing something this large.
It proved to be as challenging as it was exciting. I had to completely change the way I work. Every mistake I made would require me to go a few steps back. I had to make strategic decisions and think about a way to translate a small rough sketch onto a large format and later transfer this large scale handmade drawing into a digital format.
One of the goals I set for myself was to draw it completely by hand, one-for-one, and not to make a smaller version that would be later enlarged to the final format.
As fascinating as the technicalities of the process are, the other important part of the project is its soul, the concept – Night Gazelle.
Part II – The Flower
The concept unfolds
The fact that the scarf is meant to be worn by women, led me to the thought that they should wear something that will empower their feminine side. I imagined fertility symbols from different cultures and traditions, symbols of beauty and its power.
The Gazelle signifies the gentle beauty of the East, but the Gazelle is not only beautiful, she is also fast, mysterious, evasive, and playful. Her third eye sees into the hidden dimensions of our souls. She is the feminine intuition personified. The Crescent Moon, above the Gazelle, empowers her. The Moon is a symbol of change and illusion.
The Gazelle is surrounded by flowers and plants. They represent creative power, fertility, and enchantment. They are all alive and they wrap around each other, almost like snakes. We are never alone in the forest, even if it seems so. There are plants with eyes that emphasize this fact – the forest is alive and it watches us.
The flowers and plants I chose to appear in the design are of significance as well. They are flowers that signify womanhood and fertility. Some of them are sacred to goddesses. Some of them are a source of narcotic intoxication, as well as poison and medicine. The flowers look beautiful and gentle but carry in them great powers.
A flower that is well known for its magnificent appearance and scent. Through the ages it was depicted on coats of arms as a symbol of nobility. It has been recognized countless times by poets and painters. It’s become a synonym of beauty, perfection, and passion. The rose is surrounded by thorns, to protect it of unwelcome hands.
Hibiscus is a flower sacred to Kali, the terrifying mother goddess of the Hindu religion. It is a flower of blood, life, and death.
Arrowleaf Elephant Ear
This plant has sexual connotations, combining female and male representations in its impressive flower. The white color symbolizes the purity in this manifestation of physical love.
There are also many intoxicating plants in the design.
A very potent delirium-causing plant. A beautiful white (in this case) flower, evokes an angel’s trumpet (as it is also sometimes called). This plant can be lethal and all of its parts have the power to cause intoxication. It is as poisonous as it is beautiful.
A close relative of Datura, it is also beautiful and intoxicating but lacks Datura’s thorn apple. Brugmansia is much bigger than Datura and has a few different characteristics. It possesses a sweet, intoxicating, and dangerous fragrance, which can cause a sense of euphoria or sleep.
The Poppy is well-known for its narcotic abilities. This gentle flower has the power to numb physical and emotional pain. Its derivative substances, opiates, are used in traditional and conventional medicine. They can also be dangerously addictive and lethal.
Lotus has been (and still is) a sacred flower for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt it was used for worship and appreciated for it intoxicating abilities. In Hinduism it’s the sacred flower of Laxmi, goddess of wealth and fertility. In Buddhism it stands for the essence of purity. This divine flower is known to grow in muddy waters, thus signifying the power of pure spirit to overcome all obstacles and reach Nirvana.
The plants, the Gazelle, and the Moon are set against the starry night sky.
The night sky
The night itself is often associated with female deities. A night sky is deep and mysterious like an ocean. Night is the time of sleep and dreams. It reminds me of a womb; a time before we are born into this world; a time of regeneration and rejuvenation that gives us the energy to live.
The stars serve as reminders of the endless universe – the one we are part of and the beyond. Stars cast light of hope and guidance. The Night Gazelle herself is made of starlight.
Part III – Back to Technicalities
After my very rough sketch was approved, I began transferring and refining it into a large scale detailed drawing. I used 20 separate pages, 27 x 34.5 cm each, to create one big drawing. After the pencil sketch was made, I went even more into detail, with the help of my beloved set of black pens.
After I finalized the black and white sketch, I scanned it. The physical drawing became a digital one and that’s when it got its colors.
Part IV – The Fruit
When the design was complete and looked back at me.
Three months after the project began, it was finally finished. When I looked at the result, trying to describe it, I envisioned a forest at night, full of life so intensely felt, surrounding me as I lay on the grass between the flowers and gazed into the night sky. I close my eyes and see the Night Gazelle staring straight into my heart. I wanted to give the observer a description that would put him or her inside this spiritual experience. I called it “A Night in the Forest”:
“One night, while you walk through the forest of bliss, take a rest among the sacred flowers surrounded by ancient trees. Lay your head on the soft grass and breathe in the enchanting smell of the flowers. See the night sky looking back at you. Close your eyes, but keep open the eye that will see the spirit of the forest emerge from the stars, reaching to you, as much as you are reaching to it.”
I truly hope that the energy and thought that I put into this design will become a part of the woman who wears it, and will enhance her own strength, intuition, and magic.