Constructing new stories from old, my work marries words with images in ways that can bring to light and celebrate histories which would otherwise remain hidden, overlooked or side-lined...
Kremena Dimitrova is a London based illustrator-as-historian, lecturer and researcher with a clear academic and visual research trajectory, exhibition track record and broad knowledge of traditional and digital media. Kremena experiments with photography and traditionally made textures, painted, drawn and printed backgrounds, which she combines into digital collages. Kremena's expertise is in narrative and situated illustration methods, reportage drawing, public history and visual historiography, socially engaged, site-specific and public art, visual interventions, use of creative processes and application of artistic insights in diverse educational, cultural and heritage settings. Her commissions and research focus on visual history-telling in the museum and heritage sectors. Kremena is conducting an interdisciplinary practice-based PhD in Visualising History at the University of Portsmouth (2019-), which explores the carto-graphic novel as an innovative form of historiography and focusses on runaway slaves' narratives in 18C colonial London, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Franklin House. Themes of interest cover comics studies, cartography, public history, historical revisionism, alternative histories, historiographical reflection on narrative and democratisation in historical representation.
Kremena has worked on a range of privately commissioned and self-initiated projects, and has had a number of published works. Her work features in print, online, book publishing, design, and advertising. Major commissions range from National Lottery Heritage Funded projects and illustration interventions with The West Cheshire Museums, The National Memorial Arboretum and The University of Manchester to illustrating Lonely Planet Kids’ children’s activity books series and developing an artistic vision for One Horton Heath - a new community housing development site in the Borough of Eastleigh. Kremena's work can be found in the shops of various museums across the UK, including Benjamin Franklin House and The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. Her work is also part of The University of Manchester's permanent collections at The John Rylands Library. Kremena is represented by Allied Artists Illustration Agents
The University of Manchester and The John Rylands Library
West Cheshire Museums
ARTIST / RESEARCHER PROJECTS & RESIDENCIES
West Cheshire Museums, Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council (Jul 2020 - Aug 2020) (National Lottery Heritage Funded)
Digital collaborative comic strip commission Colour within the Lines: Living in Lockdown for Chester Festival of Hope - a pioneering online festival and exhibition placing young people at the heart of design, making, programming and production. The Festival of Hope is part of Hope Streets, a five-year project creating a strategic partnership between heritage and youth sectors in the North West. The aim of the commission was to reflect on Chester Young Producers’ heritage by exploring and visually communicating young people’s views and experiences on both sides of the Welsh-English border throughout the period of Covid-19 lockdown; employing a comic strip format, I worked with Chester Young Producers to give voice to young people whose stories wouldn’t usually be told by visually communicating oral histories gathered by Chester Young Producers through interviews; comic strip inclusion in the West Cheshire Museums' permanent collections; planned and delivered an online workshop Understanding Comics: Starting Your Comic Strip as part of Chester Festival of Hope.
The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas (May 2020 - Jul 2020)
VJ-Day 75 socially engaged site-specific digital exhibition Visualising History: Remembering the Forgotten Army - employing a graphic narrative format explored the lasting impact the conflict with Japan and the Second World War have had on today’s culture and society; devised and delivered online (hi)story-telling/illustration workshops and developed a suite of digitally-accessible activity sheets (history-telling through illustration, history-telling through comics, history-telling through line art and colouring) and an educational history-telling colouring book to engage young people in learning and remembrance of those who served and sacrificed in the Far East focusing on the British 14th Army (the “Forgotten” Army) and most diverse army in history; engaged in visual research investigations and used young people’s creative responses to produce a unitary collaborative historical graphic narrative to form the Arboretum’s first digital exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of VJ-Day.
Eastleigh Borough Council, Eastleigh (Mar 2020 - Jun 2020)
One Horton Heath site-specific community heritage commission - developed an artistic vision in a cartographic format inspired by the (hi)stories of a new community housing development site (homes, local facilities, infrastructure) in the Borough of Eastleigh on the theme The Journey (depicting the past and present development and future vision); created work in adaptable formats for hard copy usage (flyers, posters, site signage) and digital platforms advertising campaigns (One Horton Heath website, e-marketing, social media channels) to serve as an official image and an umbrella piece speaking to different audiences by establishing a sense of place and purpose.
The University of Manchester’s Centre for Jewish Studies and The John Rylands Library, Manchester (Jan 2020-)
50 Jewish Objects public history commission - researched and visually investigated, employing a graphic narrative format, a 13C compendium of Jewish law - a manuscript of Isaac ben Joseph of Corbeil’s Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Semak) to become part of The University of Manchester's permanent collections in The John Rylands Library. Planned, organised and delivered outreach activities programme comprising of graphic narrative/story-telling demonstrations and workshops in Manchester Jewish community sites to showcase the project, captivate public’s interest and widen understanding of artefacts, Jewish history, and Jewish studies; designed merchandise based on the commission available in The John Rylands Library’s shop; wrote blog entries which communicated the research, thinking, design decisions, processes and approaches when visually responding to the manuscript.
Benjamin Franklin House, London (Jun 2015-) (National Lottery Heritage Funded, 2017, 2018)
Commission to research Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, and his life and work in London. Developed site-specific illuminations used as educational projections to enrich young audiences’ experiences during historical re-enactments and an educational children’s activity book Benjamin Franklin: At Home in London (published in 2019 and consisting of reusable stickers, a map, spot the difference and puzzles); devised activity sheets, delivered talks and mixed media illustration/collage workshops for museum visitors, families and school children; independent research investigating the carto-graphic novel as an innovative form of historiography as part of an interdisciplinary practice-based PhD (focusing on 18C colonial London, Benjamin Franklin and the museum).
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury (Apr 2018 - Feb 2019) (Canterbury Council and Canterbury Museums and Galleries, CCC Funded)
Beyond War - Visualising Peace: Responding to the Armistice of 1918 site-specific community heritage graphic narrative exhibition installation commemorating 100 years since the end of WW1. Researched and visualised The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge’s WW1 Canterbury archives and collections to create historically accurate digital graphic narrative scenes and an interactive poppy wall Celebrating Women in the Workforce visualising the (often unsung) contributions of ordinary women living through the Great War and the peace beyond.
Bishop’s Stortford Museum and Middlesex University, Bishop’s Stortford (Nov 2013 - Aug 2014) (National Lottery Heritage Funded)
Created graphic narrative spreads illustrating rare and damaged Hertfordshire’s WW1 police archives visually communicating the experiences of policemen and ordinary people during the Great War; published in a book anthology On the Beat: Stories from 1914-191 commemorating 100 years since the beginning of WW1. This collaboration was produced in partnership with Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Project was reviewed and approved by the Houses of Parliament; exhibitions at Bishop’s Stortford Museum and Middlesex University; press coverage by the BBC and the Times; gave educational talks to local schoolchildren about the project.
ILLUSTRATION / DESIGN COMMISSIONS
Auris Tech Limited, London (Jan 2020 - Mar 2020)
Commission to design and illustrate an interactive children’s e-book The Painting for a market leading educational Fonetti app, which offers innovative speech recognition solutions for children - a learning system encouraging and assisting children as they learn to read.
Oxford City Council, Oxford (Jan 2020)
A Cup of Inspiration site-specific illustration commission responding to the climate emergency; printed on purpose-built giant coffee cup recycling bins installed in Oxford to create a trail of inspiration in three of Oxford’s business areas and inspire people to take positive action to address the climate emergency; concept development, draft design sketch creation, final colour design covering themes relating to inspiration, positivity, diversity, inclusion, visibility, logistics.
Amuse Yourself, London (Sep 2018 - May 2019)
Commission to develop illustrations, design panels, handwritten logo for a new website encapsulating the company’s creative offerings, ranging from museum and gallery tours to bespoke talks and life drawing classes.
UCL Institute of Education, Department of Culture, Communication and Media, London (Sep 2017-)
Commission to research, design and illustrate an info map/trail for MA Museums and Galleries in Education showcasing the main university areas and facilities as part of an induction package for new students; used by the marketing department of UCL Institute of Education across the wider university community.
UCL Institute of Education, Thomas Coram Research Unit, London (Jun 2016)
Child Language Brokering: Spaces of identity belonging and mediators of cultural knowledge co-created comic strips e-book. The aim of the project was to produce outputs for the wider public and raise awareness about the lives and practices of young interpreters (aged 13-15); combined young people’s original writings and drawings generated during workshops by weaving and juxtaposing multiple concepts, voices, stories and research findings in innovative, informative and memorable ways by merging words and images. The e-book highlighted issues important to the young people, communicating their own feelings, thoughts, anxieties and experiences being young interpreters in a creative way. The e-book was exhibited in schools and online with the aim of disseminating difficult research findings in accessible ways (through the use of humour). This facilitated learning in the University and across broader non-academic audiences.
Literary Lifestories, London (Jul 2016 - Aug 2016)
Commission to design a book cover for a novelette.
The Rude Mechanicals, Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival, London (Feb 2016 - Mar 2016)
Commission to design and illustrate promotional materials - a poster, logo, map/trail using traditional and digital methods
capturing The Rude Mechanicals’ performances across the London Borough of Hackney to commemorate 400 years since Shakespeare.
Lonely Planet Kids, London (Apr 2014 - Apr 2015)
Commission to illustrate Lonely Planet Kids' new educational sticker books adventure series for children Adventures in Cold Places and Adventures in Smelly Places and to create the main illustrations for a deluxe world atlas Adventures Around the Globe; each book publication included over 250 reusable stickers, world maps, intro, colouring pages, spot the difference, shadow games, puzzles, 3D push-outs, and more. Worldwide publication of all books.
PUBLICATIONS / CHILDREN'S BOOKS
The Painting (Auris Tech Limited Fonetti educational app) (2020)
Benjamin Franklin: At Home in London (2019) (National Lottery Heritage Funded)
Adventures in Smelly Places (Lonely Planet Kids) (2015)
Adventures in Cold Places (Lonely Planet Kids) (2014)
PUBLICATIONS / BOOK ANTHOLOGIES CONTAINING MY ILLUSTRATIONS
Community Artists Colouring Book Vol. 1 (Portsmouth Creates) (2020)
Adventures Around the Globe (Lonely Planet Kids) (2015)
On the Beat: During the Great War 1914 -1918 (Bishop’s Stortford Museum, part of the Rhodes Birthplace trust and Middlesex University) (2014) (National Lottery Heritage Funded)
Sancti Clandestini: Undercover Saints (World Wood Publishing) (2012)
Impressions of Cat Hill (Middlesex University and Pearls of Wisdom Press) (2011)
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Visual Sources for Historians - Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study University of London (Feb - Mar 2020)
Dimitrova, K. (2020, November). Visualising Absences: The Cartographic Novel as an Innovative Form of Historiography. Paper presented at the Narratives of Displacement International Conference organised by the London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in collaboration with The British and Comparative Cultural Studies Research Group (BRICCS), University of the Balearic Islands, Spain.
Dimitrova, K. (2020, September). Visualising Colonial Absences: The Cartographic Novel as an Innovative Form of Historiography. Paper presented at the University of Portsmouth Digital Postgraduate Presentations Programme DiPP.
Dimitrova, K. (2020, June). The Cartographic Novel as an Innovative Form of Historiography. Paper presented at the
SHS Online Events - Environment, Spaces & Places Session.
Dimitrova, K. (2020, June). The Cartographic Novel as an Innovative Form of Historiography. Paper presented at the MAPPING - UNCHARTED TERRITORY Online Video Conference.
Dimitrova, K. (2019, July). Reimagining History: Graphic Novels and the Museum. Paper presented at the Visualising the Past Symposium. Portsmouth.
Dimitrova, K. (2017, March). Teaching Art and Design in an Inclusive Classroom: Adapting the Curriculum. Paper presented as part of Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Symposium. London.
Dimitrova, K. (2019, June). Conference Panel Chair of Assembling Storyworlds. Paper presented at the Joint International Conference of Graphic Novels, Comics and Bandes Dessinées, Manchester.
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE LECTURES
University of Portsmouth (9 Mar 2020)
University of East London (13 Nov 2018)
ART & DESIGN LECTURER
Middlesex University, London
- Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday (NADSC) (Nov 2013-)
- Intensive Foundation in Art and Design (Jun 2013 - Sep 2018)
- Summer School (Jun 2015 - Aug 2016)
CREATIVE TALKS & WORKSHOPS
CO-CREATED DIGITAL EXHIBITIONS