I was walking through Berlin Mitte the other day when some artwork in a boutique store’s window display stopped me in my tracks. It was cold and dark in the street. But in my mind’s eye, I suddenly began to hear sounds of parrots chirping and the mesmerizing buzz of a wooden ceiling fan… I felt the sudden urge to dust off my backpack and get on the road right away.
The artist responsible for this rush of wanderlust is a duo called Swan Tribune. I got in touch with these two mysterious travelers through a card that was handed to me by the boutique’s owner. They sent me a selection of their ‘souvenir illustrations’—colorful drawings reminiscing of their voyages like an abstract postcard. I can almost smell the scents of the world when looking at them… Often times, the artworks are accompanied by little poems.
Come with us to distant lands in our gallery below, and let Swan Tribune inspire you to pack your suitcase after reading this.
WT: Divya, how would you describe ‘Swan Tribune’ in your own words to someone who has never seen your art?
Divya: A desire to create a world where the bizarre is the essence, where art has a sense of innocence, the courage to be colorful and beautiful without provocation. To simply share what I found wonderful on my travels or in my own imagination.
WT: Please tell us how this project came about?
D: Swan Tribune began as a diary. I used words to capture the journey of my life, and a lot of it was definitely make-believe. Words allowed the ordinary to become extraordinary. Later I replaced words with drawings to get the same effect. To make it all a little more magical. That’s why I call my artworks souvenir illustrations, they have become the memorabilia of our life.
WT: What does traveling mean to you and your life?
D: I was living in different countries, going to different schools, from Italy to India, since I was four. I took that upbringing and made it an importance for the rest of my life. I grew to be the woman I am today with every trip I took. But I also learnt to be aware of when I travel to escape, and when I travel to learn. We are extremely spoilt these days with the choices laid out in front of us, and therefore I also believe in the ability to be satisfied with standing still, and allowing the mind to travel.
WT: I love your abstract style. Which illustrators or painters inspire you?
D: Thank you! I actually have little knowledge of the world of art, unfortunately! I’m inspired by colors and therefore I always felt attracted to Matisse. And Mughal miniature art is a constant source of awe to me.
WT: Sounds like you DO have knowledge about the arts! Since you’re an avid traveler, what were your personal top three travel experiences or destinations?
D: India is the main inspiration behind most of my drawings. Every journey, as well as my childhood there, have been my favorite experiences. Greece because of its ancient culture that fascinates me with the idea of mankind’s beginnings. Israel because I felt a sense of holiness of the earth, the land itself.
WT: Thanks Divya. If I’ll ever publish a travel guide I want you to illustrate it. Keep it up, I’m hoping to catch you in a ho(s)tel somewhere around the world!
“He was a man who desired the queen in poker and sacrificed the queen in chess, and she knew he would never leave because despite her shortcomings she was professionally beautiful and always looked elegant on a camel. And he always promised they would ride into Darjeeling until they missed the Jazz, but they got stuck on the French Riviera, and she stopped believing in the promises he made her by the swimming pool.”
“If I could choose to see the future, I would sit in a lobby and tell the gypsy, ‘Go ahead keep my jewels. I like where I sit, the colors fit. I’ve lived many lives before, anything you tell me would only be a bore.’ I order something cool, perhaps alone by the pool. ‘The only future I wish you to tell, is whether I’ll ever be a belle, in that new Jaffa hotel.'”