Categories
News

Cat Doodles

Art Post: Cat Doodles

In the first of a series of art posts, we hope you enjoy these informal line-drawing doodles of Barbara Jackson. Here the artist explores various poses of her cat named Bumble. Depending on the length of the phone call, the artist sketched images of her cat that were variously detailed or quickly drafted with a fine pen. The accuracy and eye of this artist accomplished in the art of etching is plain to see.

(Images copyright: Barbara Jackson)

For more about Barbara Jackson

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020

Categories
News

Barbara Jackson

Artist: Barbara Jackson

Barbara Jackson and Brandon Broll

In a series of forthcoming art posts, we have the rare honour to view the line-drawing doodles of an award winning artist. Doodles aren’t usually meant for an audience. In this case done while the artist was busy speaking on the telephone, they are a spur of the moment inspiration. Before Barbara Jackson shares her intriguing ‘telephone doodles’, let’s introduce this accomplished printmaker who has contributed her line drawings to books by Brandon Broll. 

Born in London, artist Barbara Jackson has over many years built a reputation for her remarkable and memorable etchings, and as an art teacher of Holocaust survivor victims. She has been awarded five prizes for her printmaking. Her work has appeared at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition on several occasions, as well as at the Mall and OXO galleries  in London.

A graduate of the prestigious St Martin’s School of Art in London, Barbara Jackson chose etching as her main art form, the process of incising or etching lines in a metal printing plate after which ink is applied to form the image on a sheet of paper. It is a difficult, highly specialist process, traditionally used by artists such as Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso.

“I am a printmaker and painter who is fascinated by conveying people and architecture in a moody atmospheric manner which can tell a story,” she says. “I love to capture the play of light and tonality of an image.” Her etchings are often finished in black and white for the atmosphere that stark and subtle shades of grey and dark can create highlighting a pose, an expression, the mood of a figure.

Barbara Jackson’s Jewish heritage includes her parents fleeing Nazi Germany for London. In 2015, to honour Holocaust Memorial day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps (where both her grandmother and great-aunt died), she created a special exhibition of paintings, etchings and multi-media work detailing the journey of her father from Germany to England.

Titled Dance of Life: The Story of a German Jewish Family, the exhibition not only revealed the breadth and depth of Barbara Jackson’s artistic skills beyond just printmaking, but also the source of the familiar and profound atmospheres she creates of people in contemplative moods revealing the power of light and shadow.

For more about Barbara Jackson

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020

Categories
About

Riols Quarter

Riols Quarter

Riols Quarter is the publishing company which owns and publishes this website. The name Riols originates from a village in the south of France. It seems surprising a publishing company based in London should choose this French name. Why is this village of Riols, its history and environment, significant ?

On the surface it seems rather puzzling that a publishing company registered in London should be called Riols Quarter?  Until you consider who set it up and what Riols as a place represents to the founder, Brandon Broll. To this maverick writer, anti-apartheid activist, electrician, scientist, historian, poet, nature lover…

The ancient village of Riols, or more correctly ‘commune of Riols’ for that is the French term used, is situated in the Haut Languedoc, haut meaning high in the altitudinal sense, for this village is situated in a high valley of the Languedoc surrounded by majestic forested mountains. If Riols sounds remote, it is, yet for centuries the French people in this area have fought invaders from far and wide who have come to threaten their independence.  

Stretching back at least to the medieval Cathars, the people of these mountains have cherished something specific and powerful. Freedom. Self-esteem. Independence. Respect. That has been their message. And for this powerful message, for their maverick voices and actions towards this end, they have been persecuted. Memorials pepper these mountains attesting to their bravery and to their persecution.

Tourists visit this region for the romance and tragedy that surrounds the Cathar massacres of the 13th century. The Cathars were a Christian dualist movement whose beliefs rejected the church as part of the material world whereas they considered religion spiritual. Pope Innocent III called for the Albigensian Crusade which massacred 20,000 Cathars in the nearby city of Beziers. In the mountains near Riols, the maverick Cathars held out to the bitter end in four defensive castles clustered on rocky ridges at Lastours.

While Catharism exists in some quarters to the present day,  a courageous stand we can perhaps more easily relate to today is the bravery of people in these mountains who resisted Nazi invasion during the Second World War. Memorials to resistance fighters are commonplace in this area, including in Riols, and Riols features on ‘La Route de la Resistance Dans les Haut Cantons’, a route linking important sites of Nazi resistance.  

Day to day the villagers of Riols are quiet but friendly, living behind the sun-drenched shutters of their stone homes, enjoying regular social events in the square. The population which exceeds 700 is slowly growing, there are more than a few independent-minded mavericks here, yet few people other than the French visit Riols or know of it. Trout fishermen quietly arrive to cast their fly hooks onto the clean, slow flowing water of the Jaur river, and groups of hikers tread through passing from one mountain to another.

When Brandon Broll was looking for a bolt-hole to escape to away from the bustle of London, he chose Riols because “it reminded me of the Cape.” The Mediterranean climate, towering mountains, vineyards, and wild open spaces must have reminded him of what he had left behind in South Africa. Even though London had been his adult home for thirty years, “the subtleties of home as a child often remains the dream of home as an adult”.  Especially, if as an exile, you were forced to leave it.

Apart from its rich political history, Riols is set in the Parc Naturel Regional du Haut Languedoc. This regional nature park which includes inhabited rural villages and towns, is designated an area of outstanding beauty so as to protect the scenery and heritage. Its importance in nature conservation is recognised by the French government and protected by sustainable economic development. It is here that Brandon Broll, whose childhood embraced nature, who qualified as a botanist and zoologist at the highest level but whose career as a biologist was destroyed by politics, later chose this bolt-hole as a writer.

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020

Categories
About

brandon broll

Brandon Broll

Author of the International Bestselling
Science Book Microcosmos.

“Astonishing. Amazing. Impressive”. Alexander Theroux, The Wall Street Journal.
“This book will amaze and fascinate you”. Louisa Harper, Waterstone’s.
 “Microcosmos explores the beauty of our world”. Chicago Sun-Times.
“Readers can marvel at this striking collection”. Nature.

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020

Categories
About

doctor electric

Who is Doctor Electric ?

Everything you see is true...

According to the dictionary a maverick is a free spirit, an independent-minded person, a non-conformist. Brandon Broll is a maverick. The picture you see above of Doctor Electric is absolutely true. Incongruous as it sounds, Brandon Broll is a sparky with a PhD ! And that’s not all…

Brandon Broll admits that being a maverick in our world can be hard, but “why ever not ?” he challenges. “Imagine you can do anything. Try not to get boxed into one dimension. People aspire to living their life in one dimension. Isn’t life bigger than that ?”

It may be an incredible aspiration, or just the non-plussed, penetrating and passionate way he views the world, that Brandon Broll mentions Leonardo da Vinci as an example of who to aspire to be. The great Renaissance scientist, medical mind and anatomist, engineer, inventor, poet, musician, writer, artist and sculptor extraordinaire.

The extraordinary thing is that like Leonardo, Brandon has become an expert in almost everything he has put his mind to. The picture you see above of Doctor Electric (a nickname) is true. As incongruous as that sounds, you see a sparky with a PhD !  And not just one PhD… And he wasn’t a fully qualified electrician before he earned his doctorate… he became an electrician afterwards !

That doctoral gown you see is a Birkbeck College, University of London, doctorate in history. When he entered the examination room to take his viva in this doctoral degree, two full professors of history stood, shook his hand, and announced he’d passed. Without corrections needed. Both of them knew that his background was actually in science.

Yet they did not know that as a poet his biography appeared regularly in the International Who’s Who in Poetry and Poets Encyclopaedia. And if they heard he was the author of the international bestselling science book Microcosmos, he kept very quiet about giving up a successful career in medical journalism to earn his money as an electrical engineer. “People don’t like you revealing too much. So I keep quiet and get on with it.”

Brandon Broll always imagined himself as a wildlife biologist in South Africa, the place of his birth, and it wasn’t a dream, he made it a reality from a young age. Chameleons were his favourite pets. Graduating with distinction in zoology and botany from the University of Cape Town, he was fast tracked into postgraduate studies, researching the eusocial naked mole-rat.

But just as he was about to complete his doctorate in science, a disagreement between him and his supervisor got him expelled. It was at the height of apartheid and by then he was chairman of the Civil Rights League of South Africa, publishing political poetry and journalism against racism and injustice. When the apartheid army demanded he join them, he fled to London as a political refugee with a novel in hand titled The Unseen Genius. The title originates from a poem by Milton.

“I understand how Leonardo da Vinci was misunderstood,” he says. “Some of his works appeared in his own time, but much, like his scientific and philosophical notebooks and sketches, were kept private, hidden from others doubly through his mirror writing.” 

So how much do we know about the works of Brandon Broll ?  “Hah,” he laughs. “Most of it, you don’t !”  It seems as if, every time a work of his becomes public, there is an impact. Without ever publishing a book of poetry he was recognised in the international biographical encyclopaedia for world poets, but as a poet he remains unknown. Likewise, his science book Microcosmos received rave reviews in America, UK  and Europe, with the German edition published by National Geographic. Yet he got no royalties for it.

“It’s better that the true maverick goes by unseen,” he says. “Or else it can get you into trouble”.  For Brandon, his life remains largely anonymous in London. “That’s good. It helps me in my work”. He is married with two sons. He is a working electrician, among other things. Cannily, he owns a number of properties rented out. All of his direct family live in South Africa and his mother lives in a property in Cape Town he bought for her.

On the horizon, there are books he is writing, others he is planning to write, and much he has written which should be published. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Brandon released a long poem titled Still-life of a Pandemic, published through Amazon Kindle and in audiobook through Audible and iTunes. Unsurprisingly, it has garnered praise. It appears that we may be seeing many more books by Brandon Broll as he has founded the publishing company Riols Quarter Ltd.

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020

Categories
News

Interview: Peter Stern

Interview: Peter Stern

Peter Stern and Brandon Broll (Photo credit: A.J. Adler)

British voice-over and voice actor Peter Stern narrated the audiobook 'Still-life of a Pandemic'. With a background in music, acting and improvisation, and wide experience in voice-over (VO) projects including commercials, TV documentaries and film animated characters, Peter was the perfect fit to read this challenging poem. In north London in early July 2020, as the peak of the pandemic was subsiding (a two metre social distancing rule was in place and entry barred into others' homes), I met up with Peter in his back garden to sip coffee and chat.

  • Peter, what is your background and how did you get into voice-over and voice acting ?

While working in the IT industry as a software developer and database consultant, I enjoyed plenty of acting in my spare time as an amateur. An agent approached me after seeing me perform but at the time I was too committed to my work and frankly, too afraid to give up the steady income. However, the seed was planted. In 2001 after quitting IT, I started formal training as an actor. While training I went to a studio to record voice-overs which is often a companion career to acting. I really enjoyed the experience, decided to train more and set up a space in my flat to practise. When marriage and a child came along, I became the stay-at-home dad and VO work became the job I could do while taking care of my daughter. It grew from there.

  • Can you give us an idea of some of the voice-over work you’ve done ?

There are many different types of VO work out there and I haven’t covered all of them by any means. Most is corporate narration where an organisation needs a voice to narrate a video to describe or promote a product or service. I also record ‘explainer videos’ which are usually on a company web site. Education and e-learning is another big one, especially in the medical industry. It helps if you can pronounce medical jargon. Other work is for TV or radio commercials, voicing animated characters for film or TV, dubbing foreign languages into English, documentaries, audio guides, telephone on-hold messages, sat nav systems, museum exhibits and video game characters. A recent string to my bow was discovering I could do a decent impression of C-3PO from Star Wars. I’ve had a few jobs as him!

  • Is there any particular type of voice-over work you prefer ?

As an actor, I always prefer character work. I can get my teeth into that.

  • Can you give us some of your career highlights ? 

Things stand out for different reasons:

  • Reading my very first commercial made a big impact on me because it was my first. It was for a car dealership in Manchester.
  • My longest commute was memorable. It was the day I travelled all the way to Norway and back to spend five hours in a studio.
  • Once I spent two weeks cooped up in a voice booth being a purple weasel for an animated series.
  • Playing multiple characters for an independent animator in a comedy crime series.
  • Narrating a ten episode documentary on American National Parks for Discovery Channel.
  • Still hearing my voice at Ripley’s Museum whenever I’m at the Trocadero in London.
  • In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, during lockdown in London, I asked if you would like to read Still-life of a Pandemic. What made you decide to do it ?

I don’t get to record poetry very often and certainly not of this length so it was a challenge I knew I’d enjoy.

  • A poem often is not easy to read well, especially a long poem. But you managed to pace the rhythm well, keep the rhyming structure subtle, as well as instil emotion in the right places. Was it difficult to do ?

There were several layers of difficulty in this project: conveying the intended meaning while giving myself the freedom to apply my own meaning where allowed; conveying emotion without going overboard and keeping the sizeable text fresh to hold attention. To help me, I asked you what certain sections meant to you. It’s so important to understand the intentions of the author and what was going through your mind when you wrote it. You also highlighted patterns in the writing that I hadn’t spotted. The poem is quite repetitive so it was important that it didn’t sound monotonous. I tried to make sure that no two refrains were delivered the same way and they needed to reflect the mood of the preceding stanza. I decided that lines like ‘yet still you are alive’ could be read as second person but also as first person, as if the father is talking to himself. The added complication here is that this poem is being read by someone who has already died. How do you put yourself in that position?

  • Do you think your background in music, acting and improvisation helped ?

Rhythm is certainly used. This poem has no hard rhythm all the way through but where there is one, hopefully, I was able to make it count. I didn’t want to turn this into a drama by acting the part too much but there are sections that need a little more emotion. The text needs to be delivered rather than simply read out so intonation and diction are important.

  • The scenario in the poem involves a father who catches the virus, and you see the effect on his family and the neighbourhood around him. How did you get into character ?

I think the pandemic has made all of us more aware of the people around us and our immediate neighbourhoods in particular. Many neighbourhoods have been brought closer together and ours is no different. My wife had symptoms of Covid-19 and had to isolate. This obviously had an effect on me and my daughter. You do start to think about what could happen given all the unknowns so it wasn’t difficult to recall the feelings of that time.

  • It’s obviously a poem which stirs a whole range of emotions: fear of the pandemic itself, a father contracting Covid-19, the family and healthcare workers reacting, his death, funeral and memorial. How did you deal with this ? Did you share it with your family ?

I tend to deal with this much as I would with any book. I can get emotionally involved without this spilling out into real life. My family were aware I was recording this but I didn’t share much information. My daughter in particular has some anxiety issues so discussing this with her was out of the question.

  • Lastly, Peter, how has the Covid-19 pandemic personally affected you ? With regard both to family and work ?

The way I work hasn’t changed as I work from home anyway although the work dried up a little. Our home naturally became busier and more distracting as my wife and daughter were at home with me. Being a department head at a university, my wife has been under a lot of pressure trying to deal with the structural changes necessary for staff and students alike. My daughter, of course, needs extra attention. She really misses school and struggles with motivation being stuck at home. She’s looking forward to going back to school.

For more about Peter Stern

site logo

Published by Riols Quarter Ltd, 85 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 7LT. Company: 12673832.
Copyright © 2020