Photos by: India Hartford Davis
In our latest campaign, our London based, contributing photographer, Indy Hartford Davis (whose work you may have seen in our Micro campaign in London and Guise story in Paris), went en route to the quaint town of La Coruña in Spain. There she met an artist we have been deeply intrigued by and captured her behind the scenes in her studio after a morning of exploring the town together.
Miscellany of colours being signature to our collections, our creative team fell in love with the work of Dina Bukva. Bold and vibrant with colour used to create connection, Dina paints women and the importance of women’s friendship.
With her pieces being so evocative and rich in narrative, we virtually connected to Dina from Australia to discover more about her work, the journey she has embarked on becoming an artist and her new life in Spain.
Where are you from and where to do live now?
From Croatia, from a small town on the coast called Makarska. Three weeks ago I moved to La Coruña, Spain.
As a new resident in Spain, what are some of the interesting / beautiful things you are discovering in your local area?
Walking through the small streets in the city, which are full of restaurants and bars and always crowded with people. I love to see how outgoing people here are. Obviously, I love the architecture as well. Especially in the north of Spain buildings have those beautiful galleries, which are basically white window fronts covering the whole front side of the flats.
Where is your favourite place to visit and favourite café or restaurant in your area?
The beach and the long walk beside it. I go there every day. My favourite cafe is around the corner of my flat. Everything they have is gluten free, which is amazing for someone who’s intolerant to gluten. I also love various seafood restaurants. It’s a specialty here.
Tell us your journey to becoming a full-time artist?
I always loved art and enjoyed painting ever since. It was a few years ago, in university, when I found myself painting on a regular basis. Simply because I needed something else while writing essays and research papers. Once I started sharing my work on Instagram and my community started to grow slowly, I began selling my art. Being a full-time artist is still something I am working on.
What is the inspiration behind your paintings?
I paint women and their friendships. Women inspire me and I’ve had mainly female role models during my whole life. Female family members, friends, activists, artists, celebrities I looked up to. My mother used to paint with me a lot when I was a child. She bought books of artists she admired. We read about their lives, and she would show me paintings that reminded her of me.
At some point I started actively reflecting on who I am as a young woman and how people around me shaped me while growing up. As the me-too movement was rising I started a journal with incidents that happened to me. Things that seem totally normal to me, because I am so used to them. Still, I question my femininity on a daily basis. I feel insecure about various topics. I question my whole mental health when feeling emotional. Or too bossy when I fight for something I believe in. I often struggle with the idea of having children and a family because deep down I somehow expect the whole weight being on my shoulders. I think three times about how men might interpret my outfits - even though I’m very much aware that I can wear whatever I want. As long as all those things go through my mind and the mind of my friends, I will be painting women and their friendships.
What does the importance of friendship mean to you?
To me friendship means home. I have been moving cities a lot during the beginning of my twenties.
That’s why my circle of friends has always been changing. The beautiful thing about it is that all the places I left still feel like home, simply because of the friendships I made there.
Your paintings are so vibrant not only in colour but also in narrative - each painting really tells a story. What factor leads in your creating a story on the canvas?
I try to create female characters that live in beautiful and colourful places. Where they support each other and celebrate their existence and their bodies. Peaceful situations, where simple things like a picnic or a hug matter is what I would like to have more in my own life. So, I paint them.
You mentioned your mother use to paint with you, how do you think she and the other women role models have influenced your work?
My mother always embraced me to be free and never scared of trying out something new. She would take a book of an artist where we chose a painting we liked and recreated it in our own way.
We didn’t care if it was beautiful or perfect. The only thing that mattered was that we created something with our own hands. Whenever I feel pressure or insecurity about my art, I try to remember that.
We love how you mentioned that your mother would buy books on artists she admired, and she would show you paintings that reminded her of you, do you remember a particular painter or artwork that resonated with you in particular?
Egon Schiele. There are several artworks where he portrayed women who had red hair, like me.
What is one of your most treasured memories as a painter or a memory that inspired one of your works?
There is no specific memory or moment, I guess it’s more a sensation that I treasure. The sensation of freedom and warmth. Waking up and not feeling the pressure to be and behave in a certain way. That’s the feeling I try to apply to my paintings and the feeling how I would like women to feel when they see my art.
How do you escape back to self?
I put on comfy clothes, get some good food and paint.
What is next for your new life in Spain?
Giving myself some time to arrive properly and get used to the change. Also hopefully making some great new friendships.
Discover more on Dina Bukva
Dina’s work - https://nudesandcroissants.com/
Photos by India Hartford Davis