Kathimerini Daily Newspaper 21.03.2015
Paintales giving birth to stories through music and pictures
Interview to Sandra Voulgari
She does not teach in schools, but during the last few years, she is present almost in a daily basis at various schools, in order to organise experiential seminars for children and teachers, as well as to make her very original presentations and performances, fully inspired and created by herself: they are called “Zografigísis” (Paintales)! When lines meet rythms, music and songs, in order to be transformed into stories ! This is only one secret kept by the multitalented and awarded author, illustrator and musician Lida Varvarousi, who is a nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2016 as an illustrator. Δεν διδάσκει σε σχολεία, όμως τα τελευταία χρόνια βρίσκεται σχεδόν καθημερινά σ’ ένα, για να παρουσιάσει βιωματικά σεμινάρια για παιδιά και εκπαιδευτικούς, καθώς κι έναν πολύ ξεχωριστό τρόπο αφήγησης ιστοριών που εμπνεύστηκε και δημιούργησε η ίδια, τις «Ζωγραφηγήσεις». Οταν οι γραμμές συναντούν τον ρυθμό, τη μουσική και το τραγούδι, για να γίνουν ιστορίες! Αυτό είναι μόνο ένα από τα μυστικά της πολυτάλαντης και βραβευμένης εικονογράφου, συγγραφέως και μουσικού Λήδας Βαρβαρούση, η οποία είναι προτεινόμενη για το βραβείο Χανς Κρίστιαν Αντερσεν 2016, στην κατηγορία της εικονογράφησης.
When Lida Varvarousi narrates a story, she simultaneously draws on a huge board, playing roles and incarnating gfthe characters she draws. The children are not just the spectators of the performance. They also participate actively in the narration and they progressively become the ones who tell her what to integrate in her stories when drawing. Songs have also a part to play in the performances, as Lida, who is a solo singer at the class of Rossitza Troeva, sings often opera arias related to the subject of the Paintales’ session.
« The idea and the aim of the Paintales were to create something innovative for the narration, so that the image may contribute dynamically. », says Lida Varvarousi in an interview to Kathimerini and explains that « the direct, quick development of a picture, which is every time a new one before the eyes of the children, awakens senses and inspiration. Adapted to the age of the children, the Paintales transform the story into something new”.
The most charming part of this particular creative procedure is the energy created from the interaction between the children and the narrator, as well as the chance for participation given to all children, even to those who may have dyslexia or concentration problems, for example.
The illustration of the Textbook for Greek as mother tongue for the first and second grades of Primary School, (2006) is listed amongst the very many things that Lida Varvarousi has done. She remains optimistic towards controversial comments on the way schools work nowadays and underlines the importance of the images that dominate “I believe that the groups of teachers creating them (i.e. the schoolbooks for primary education) are remarkable and the books remind me of the textbooks for foreign language learning that I had when I was younger, which made me learn fast, since their pictures helped me to do so”.
Lida Varvarousi is glad about the edition of her new book « A bird…plugged in » (Papadopoulos Publishers, series « Crazybites ») , talking about the wrongful approach on technology as well as its wrongful use which may, according to her, “isolate and encage us. So we end up being used by technology instead of using it.”
I ask her for advice as a result of her long experience with children; I ask her to tell me about something she considers important about bringing up and educating children. “We should listen to them” she answers. «We should listen to what they have to say rather than to what we wish to hear. We live in an era when time flies so fast and we often tend to look like the dog running after its tail. Children need to feel, to know we are by their side, close to them; that we are their partners, not just their breeders. We should look at them through their prism; we should enter their own world”.
Who she is
Lida Varvarousi became known by her series named « Crazybites », which is fully written and illustrated by her, as well as by the illustration of the books « Little Trianglefish » and « Mike Littlebean ». She has written fifteen books and illustrated approximately 200 books. Some of them are sold in many countries. In 2006 she was honoured with the First International Illustration Award by the Southeast Europe Children Literature Center, for her book “A worm with wings”.