Author Archives: 12images

Winter is coming…

My feelings about G. R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones stories are a bit…well, complicated.

I started to read the first book more than ten years ago and I loved it at first – it’s very intelligent storytelling about an amazingly interesting imaginary world with compelling, diverse characters all around.
And then Ned Stark was killed off in a way that made me refuse to continue reading… I mean, it was obvious from the beginning that it’s not one of those stories where everything turns good at the end and all the heroes ride into the sunset and live happily ever after. And I suspected when the Starks moved to the South that it will end very badly for him, but the emotional cruelness of the circumstances leading to his death knocked me out – at the end he was forced to give up his true self for nothing, just because he couldn’t accept the reality about some of his family members and friends.

old abandoned derelict tower bells under pale sky white light from above through the arches snow covered hills rolling first snow hay bales on the farm field with barn

old abandoned derelict tower bells under pale sky white light from above through the arches snow covered hills rolling first snow hay bales on the farm field with barn

I know that’s nothing uncommon, it has happened and will happen again and again in history and in our everyday lives (though, usually with less severe consequences ;-)), but somehow that anger I felt just made me not want to connect to the characters anymore. So – though I was very curious about how the story will unfold – I stopped reading.

Years later, when the series started on TV I couldn’t resist watching some episodes from time to time and I kept reading the news and spoilers to follow the story – but I always kept the distance, I just didn’t want to invest emotionally anymore.
Maybe, someday, I will start the books again…

lonely tree standing in winter snow top of the hill with a wolf in silent snowfall snow covered snow laden branches blue sky wind still garden gate wrought iron hedges

lonely tree standing in winter snow top of the hill with a wolf in silent snowfall snow covered snow laden branches blue sky wind still garden gate wrought iron hedges

Anyway, one of the details of Martin’s world that got my imagination was the idea of the ever returning severe winters of unpredictable length.

Where I live, winter weather can be rather erratic: some years we have only a few snowy days and the temperature is around zero; some years the country is covered with snow for weeks or months, with freezing cold.

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

I’m not a fan of cold, but I love snow – the first snow that turns the land into shades of blue and white; the silent snowfall overnight with huge snowflakes, sitting on my rooftop window so thick that I wake up in the morning to the unusual silence; I love to drink my morning coffee sitting by the terrace door looking out to the snowy garden and I love the days when the snow just keeps falling and eventually the city gives up, all traffic stops and life slows down. I love to cross the river walking over the bridge and stop for a while to watch the ice floes floating at the surface of the cold water; and going to the snow covered woods and fields for my daily running is one of my favorite things, especially when there’s no wind at all and all the branches and twigs of the trees are packed with heavy layers of snow.

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

(…I certainly don’t love snow when it’s transformed into the greyish mass that later hardens on the roadside so dense it can survive even the first few weeks of spring weather, but that comes with the package if you live in the city…)

And no matter how cold or snowy winter is, after around 4 month there’s always spring coming…

But what if we wouldn’t know how long next winter will last? What if it would stay for years; with short days and long nights, never ending snowfalls, frozen rivers and lakes; covering everything with a heavy snow blanket?

I had these questions and thoughts often on my mind while creating my winter landscape collection and eventually this gave the title of the series: Winter is coming…

12 images for environmental awareness

Nature, wildlife, animals, and environmental awareness were a natural part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I was growing up reading Gerald Durrell’s books; with my family going every weekend on long hikes in the surrounding woods and mountains; and taking home every kinds of stray, wounded or abandoned animals from fallen, injured nestlings to baby bunnies thrown out after Easter (I have to admit though that our parents weren’t always completely enthusiastic about this habit…).
Through this connection with nature and animals, being aware of the impacts our everyday life and human activity in general has on our environment became also a part of our consciousness: my sister and I learned at a very young age about issues like the diminishing rainforests and the increasing pollution of our oceans, and about how to do our best to lessen or avoid the harm we cause to our planet.

critically endangered animals

critically endangered animals

And I remember that even as a kid I was constantly stunned – and enraged – by how little the vast majority of our peers, their parents and our teachers knew and cared about these things. I remember a particular conversation I had as a teenager trying to explain the importance of preserving the Amazon forest to my friends and I remember how they dismissed my reasoning labeled as naive, unimportant and exaggerated.

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

More than 20 years later, as humankind almost succeeded to literally smother a whole planet into its waste, with desperate warnings about global warming and plastic pollution screamed at us from the media, and internet petitions circling on Facebook, one would think this behavior has generally changed.

Well, it hasn’t. Although there has been some advancement regarding environmental awareness and there are more and more people who do everything and beyond to save and protect what is still left of the planet, most people I know aren’t even willing to collect their waste selectively.

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

I don’t get this attitude, I never will. I could go on for pages about the reasons, but it doesn’t lead anywhere. I don’t know if being appreciative of the beauty and diversity of our planet and its wildlife or feeling responsible for the harm we cause to other living beings can be taught – I can’t imagine my sister or I could have turned out any other way, and I know a lot of people who didn’t have the kind of family background we had growing up and still think the same way as we do.

My niece is about 10 years old; she loves animals and nature, knows a lot about wildlife conservation and environmental issues and does what she can on her level. But most of her friends and classmates (and their parents and teachers…) have basically no idea or just don’t think these things are important – same story again.  And I see that most of the kids would be inherently interested and would care but with the practically non-existent school education about these subjects and without proper behavior patterns from the parents it’s a lost case.

recently extinct animals 21st century

recently extinct animals 21st century

It has been my conviction for a long time that making environmental consciousness a fundamental part of education at school in every country would be crucial – but I‘m not in a position to achieve this. So – as I’m working partly in graphic design – I created my poster series about endangered and extinct animals. My main intention was to try to give a useful tool to help dedicated parents, teachers or communities who’d like to do something to get the kids’ attention and get them involved – and maybe, hopefully, their parents too (yes, I’m still naive…).

extinct bird species

extinct bird species

The poster series features 12 endangered and 12 already extinct animals. It’s not a random collection: I selected the species very thoughtfully to give the opportunity to cover as many aspects of environmental issues and wildlife conservation as possible. With the help of the posters the kids can learn about these animals and on their example it’s easy to talk about a wide range of topics: about the impacts of pollution and global warming; about how human activity like agriculture, deforestation, building dams and roads etc. changes the habitat of animals; about how overfishing and industrial fishing like netting kills marine wildlife; about poaching and holding wild animals captive for the sake of human entertainment or hobbies; about the vulnerability of islands to invasive species; about the utmost importance of clear waters; and about general things like how an ecosystem works, how can the tiniest element of a system be as significant as the biggest, and why it is so important to maintain the balance.

And, of course, about the possibilities of wildlife conservation and preserving or restoring the health of our environment: everyday acts like conscious buying choices, reducing plastic waste, recycling and sparing resources, using renewable energy; scientific methods from inventing non-polluting or biodegradable materials to resurrecting already extinct or critically endangered species by captive breeding programs and cloning.

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

The posters portray a wide range and diversity of species: mammals, birds, fishes, insects; amazing, cute, weird or cool animals; well known, emblematic and relatively unknown species; endemic and global species; species of islands and continents, oceans, seas and rivers, forests and grasslands, mountains and lowlands; recently and hundreds of years ago extinct animals from all around the planet.

The abbreviation and year under the name refers to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List category of the species: EX – extinct, CR – critically endangered, EN – endangered.

I made the posters available by setting up a store on RedBubble, with a small profit that goes entirely to the Sea Shepherd to support their efforts to save our oceans and marine wildlife.

animals hunted to extinction

animals hunted to extinction

Whether I believe my idea could work, and 12 images could really make any difference?
I don’t know – it’s just a tool, and without dedicated people who put their time, efforts and knowledge in using these posters they are just decoration. But even then, if a kid spends every day in a classroom with these posters on the wall it’s more likely s/he will pay attention and start to ask questions…I think at this point the only chance we have is to make sure that future generations are brought up with an attitude that makes sure they are precisely and painfully aware of the consequences of their everyday acts, that the human race is part of the intricate ecosystem of the Earth, and that each and every individual is personally responsible for the future our planet has – or doesn’t have.

endangered species with successful conservation efforts

endangered species with successful conservation efforts