The Bear in the Hut
3 Questions for Dani
What was your process for creating this work?
The work is made using digital collage on an iPad using the Superimpose X and Procreate apps. In common with hard copy collage the key is collecting the images to be collaged and I found them from a wide range of sources. Some are my own photographs, some come from public sources such as Wikimedia Commons and general public domain websites, and some from news sites. Rather than cutting out the images with scissors I use an Apple Pencil to mask the parts of the image that I don’t want and then I layer them on to a base image.
The poem was inspired by a book I found on Project Gutenberg ‘Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs and Magyars’ by Jeremiah Curtin. I tried running some of the text through AI engines to get new ways of thinking about it but it didn’t really have the desired effect. So I read many of the stories and wrote using the characters and symbols I found in the stories which I embellished. As I wanted it to sound quite traditional it is mostly written in iambic pentameter.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose?
I wanted the piece to look and sound both modern and not modern. By using digital collage with a traditional poetry rhythm I hope I managed to achieve that.
What is the significance of the work to you?
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 I was profoundly shocked and remained in shock for some weeks. While I was born and live in the UK my family are from many different parts of mainland Europe, including Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. I was born a few years after the end of WW2 and was brought up in its shadow – for example London had many bomb sites when I was growing up. Despite that I have always lived in a time of peace in Europe, the news of war, and such an old-fashioned war, was so unexpected that I really didn’t know how to process it. I found myself obsessively reading the news and, as is often the case when I am trying to process things, turning to creativity to help manage this. I started with digitally cutting out pictures of Russian tanks and the piece grew from there.
The piece has also kick-started a series of poems about some of the characters in the poem so I think I will be living with them for some time.
Dani Salvadori is a poet, videomaker and photographer based in London, UK. Her work has appeared in a range of publications, festivals and exhibitions worldwide.