Wednesday, 04 February 2015 00:00

E&M welcomes a new cartoonist

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Cartoons1  Baruffato
Photo courtesy of Alice Baruffato 

Lichtgrenze over Berlin - Alice Baruffato, December 2014

As a part of E&M's commitment to multimedia content, our magazine is glad to announce that the Italian illustrator Alice Baruffato will be sharing with us cartoons drawn exclusively for E&M. She works as an archaeological illustrator but she will be also be contributing specifically to E&M, so stay tuned and enjoy some of the most significant European issues being turned into thought-provoking drawings on a monthly basis. To find out more, E&M's Veronica Pozzi has interviewed her about her work as an archaeological illustrator and her life-experiences in Europe.



Alice Baruffato. If you feel you are already familiar with the name that's because she is not new to E&M. Last November, together with two friends, she wrote this article on her experience as a volunteer at the Berlin Wall. But the months she spent in Germany's capital are not the only European project in which she has participated. In this interview she shares those experiences as well as her personal views on Archaeology in Europe and the related job market.


E&M: Where does your passion for drawing come from? And how have you nourished it throughout the years?


Alice: My parents had a stationery shop. I remember I started drawing when I was a kid: I've always had this passion and, thanks to my parents' shop, I had access to good quality pencils and everything I needed. I took only one drawing course in my life, it was about cartoons but very short. For the rest, I just kept on drawing following my passion and as a self-learner.

E&M: When did you start with archaeological drawing?

A: I've studied Archaeology in Italy, at the University of Padova. When I was still a student, the University organized a seminar on archaeological drawing: I took it and, when it was over, I asked if I could keep on joining the lab. They gave me this opportunity so that's how I got involved with this kind of drawings. Actually, one of the professors involved was later my dissertation supervisor as I wrote the thesis for my Bachelor Degree on "How to represent ceramic archaeological finds". I analyzed different techniques used to reconstruct items found on an archaeological site: after many and many years spent underground, what you usually get from an archaeological excavation it's just a tiny part of what, back in the day, was a bigger object. But, thanks to these drawing techniques, it's possible to reconstruct the general measurements and understand how the object you found should have looked like in ancient times.


E&M: Then you took part in some European projects abroad?

A: Yes. It was not an escape from Italy because of my mother country's current lack of job places and high unemployment rate. I rather wanted to improve my language skills so I first went to Malta for a Leonardo European project: there, I worked in the field of public cultural heritage dealing with cataloguing and condition assessment tasks. Then I moved to Germany and joined a volunteering project for some months in Berlin, where I spent almost one year improving my German.


In many people's minds Archaeology is all about excavation and research. But this is not how I see it: I would like to turn archaeology into something that everyday people can get to know and enjoy in an easier way


E&M: How would you describe the job market in Germany, especially when it comes to Archaeology?

A: Well, I wanted to have a job related to what I studied. I started to look for a job in two main ways, by using the web and by making direct contacts with people working in the field. Big sectors like e.g. the culture or the health system are generally very traditional in Germany and they want you to print out all your application documents and send them via the post. Unfortunately my job hunting had no results and even when I applied for other kinds of job - to maintain myself as I have always done in the past - it turned out that it was not welcomed since the jobs were not connected with my field of studies. So, all in all, I do think the German market is not flexible and rather rigid: I eventually had a short term contract in a shopping mall wrapping gifts during the Christmas time and some costumers asked me if had done a specific "Ausbildung", which is a kind of apprenticeship you have to go through in order to learn a job.


E&M: What did you do after living in Germany?

A: I then moved to Croatia for a project run by the European Social Fund which offered internships to unemployed people. I spent six months in the region Istria, which back in the days was still part of the Italian territory: the bottom line behind the partnership between my region of origin, Veneto, and Istria is to enhance the Venetian historical heritage still present in that area.


E&M: How was to live and work in Croatia?

A: Actually it was pretty difficult to get settled. Although Croatia is an European member state, I had to get a residence permit in order to stay there. But the work experience itself was very good and interesting. I worked for a museum in a tiny town named Umag and it was my first real opportunity to produce some archaeological drawing entirely on my own. I followed two major projects: for one I did some drawings for an exhibition about the figure of the woman in Roman times; for the other one I made all the illustrations for a children textbook on the theme of the amphora. That was a project with didactic purposes and I really liked it.


amphora baruffato
Photo courtesy of Alice Baruffato 

Cover for the workbook for children on the theme of the amphora - Alice Baruffato,
Town Museum Umag (Croatia), December 2014  


E&M: In the light of your experiences, what are the differences and similarities about how the archaeology job market works in Italy, Germany and Croatia?

A: I think that archaeology in Germany is strongly connected to universities and academic research, just as it is in Italy. Yes, there are some German private companies but it is difficult to get a place there if you are not German and they usually offer unstable job positions in terms of the contracts. From what I have seen, in Croatia archaeology is also still restricted mainly to universities but, as opposed to Italy, some museums there run archaeological activities and projects.


E&M: So do you think the European dream ends when one wants to work abroad?

A: Well, culture is always the last field governments want to invest money in, especially in these times of crisis, there are a lot of cuts to funds so it is pretty difficult everywhere. Anyway, I found that all the experiences I have had in Europe so far have been very interesting from an human point of view: they boosted my personal growth and my knowledge of languages. But things get complicated if you want to find a job. Archaeology, in particular, is a difficult field if you want to work abroad: in many countries, it is still connected to the local mother tongue and that makes the difference in comparison to the IT field for example.


E&M: What is your next step now?

A: At the moment my main goal is to pursue my career as a freelance archaeological illustrator. Using the Internet to promote my work, I would like to spread a different idea of archaeology: in many people's minds (also in the minds of many professionals who work in this field) it is all about excavation and so, again, research. But, actually, this is not how I see it, thus I would like to turn archaeology into something that everyday people can get to know and enjoy in an easier way. Illustration can be a great instrument for knowledge diffusion - scientific, informative and appealing at the same time. I will focus my attention on children and young people and then work in conjunction with museums, institutions and universities that share my view and run projects to bring archaeology to people in an attractive way. 


You can see more of Alice's work on this website.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 14:34

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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