Comenius Project with Bundesrealgymnasium Vienna

 For our first mobility in Copenhagen Denmark, we will be exchanging different activities that have been diffused through the schools, allowing the kids themselves to have a chance to express their thoughts and ideas about diversity in Europe through art.  Last week in the Bundesrealgymnasium in Vienna`s 14th District we explored devising a logo that could express a their representations of a connected Europe and of Austria. I was surprised and excited to see them incorporating the symbols of the Resienrad (big wheel) in Vienna and instead of carriages to take the people in, there were stars, just like the European flag.  So these once perhaps obvious, stark symbols were innovatively transformed into diverse expressions.
  So that there was a mix between the different and specific symbol from Vienna and the broader connecting symbol of Europe.  A 'mischen' (mix) between the two.  As their confidence grew they experimented with the Viennese and European symbols further turning their creations into logos, first very detailed and accurate drawings and eventually pairing them down, to be graphic ideograms.  (When finished their innovative logos will be uploaded here).
    Once they had created their own ideograms it was easier this week to see how ancient and modern ideograms had been created in the eight different countries of the Comenius project.  As a task we were to create images of diversity in Europe, since the theme of the project is connecting through our differences.   We explored the murals in Vienna particularly at Secession, looking at the use of narrative in linking the symbols, and ideograms.
 In Diego Rivera`s murals, people dominate the narrative, diverse, colourful with symbols from the Day of the Dead festival that is so intrinsic to Mexico celebrating the dead as well as more universal ones such as the dove of peace.
 So in taking each country in turn starting with Copenhagen in Denmark, the class explored symbols that resonate with that city that simultaneously draw people to the country, connecting us, but with a feeling of difference.
 Ancient symbols from Latvia have reworked themselves into contemporary designs on clothing, buildings and in people`s homes, so that they have become an ubiquitous throughout the Latvian cultural landscape. 
 In Bulgaria, ideograms were used for days of the week as well as ancient gods that similar to Latvia have seeped into every day cultural consciousness

In Poland there is a strong symbol: The Kotwica (Polish for Anchor) was a World War II emblem of the Polish Secret State and Armia Krajowa (Home Army, or AK). It was created in 1942 by members of the AK Wawer "Small Sabotage" unit as an easily usable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence. The initial meaning of the initials "PW" was "Pomścimy Wawer" ("We will avenge Wawer"). The Wawer Massacre was considered to be one of the first large scale massacres of Polish civilians by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland. At first, Polish scouts from sabotage groups painted the whole phrase upon walls. However, this was soon shortened to two letters, P and W, due to time constraints.
    The Grunwald Swords ( Polish miecze grunwaldzkie) were a gift presented by Ulrich von Jungingen, the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights to King Vladislaus II of Poland and Grand Duke Vytautas the Great of Lithuania on 15 July 1410, just before the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg). The gift, a pair of simple bare swords was a formal invitation to the battle.

  Azulejos are tiles, richly decorated in a variety of coloured patterns are a signature motif throughout  Portugal.  Whereas Fado-represented by the guitar-a melancholic song, originating in Portugal and echoing across Iberia, has become a salient part of the cultural make-up of Portugal. The cockerel is probably one of the most popular symbols of the country, The legend dates back to the 14th Century, and like all legends, each narrator adds his own flavour. In Barcelos, a small town in Portugal, a passing pilgrim, who was on his way to São Tiago de Compostela (in Spain), was wrongly accused of theft, for which the penalty was death. Feeling threatened in a foreign village, he only had his faith to call upon.He appealed to "Our Lady" and St. James the patron Saint of protection) that justice be done. The pilgrim found his way to the Judge who was to decide his fate. The judge was about to commence eating a roast cockerel for his dinner. The pilgrim pleaded, "If I am innocent, that cockerel will get up and crow. The cockerel at once got up and crowed heartily. The pilgrim was released and went on his way.

 Woden's Cross / Odin's Cross: This symbol is very similar to the Woden`s Wheel, sometimes also refered to as Odin's Wheel or Woden's / Odin's Cross.  It has some old Norse connection as the five spots appear to be hemispherical, like rivets in a Norseman's battle shield, this is a Viking symbol.  The symbol has been used by the largest branch of the Bridgettines today in Sweden. 

Lily flower from the 12th century kings of France is still used on the flag in different regions in France E.G: Hautes-Alpes department

The coat-of-arms of the village of Csabaszabadi follows the traditions of classical Hungarian civic heraldry and both in form and design it resembles shields widespread in Hungary in the 14th century
This crest was the last symbol of the Hungarian independence for republicans, since the complete crest is the symbol of the royalists Hungary. That time MDF (royalists) and the opposing FIDESZ and SZDSZ (republicans) could not find a common point, so they have declared the flag of Hungary being red-white-green (Kossuth) tricolor without the crest, and declared an independent crest, the royal one (which of course was constructed by the Austrian emperors earlier). This decision was that time a wise compromise between the opposing republicans and royalists.

After having just a taste of the most salient symbols from each of the eight countries in the Comenius project, they were able to be inspired to create a mural that had not only a combination of these symbols on their tile or piece, but they were able to create their own emblems.  Some of them mixed- up ideograms in one token that they designed whereas others put the different symbols together in their completeness, so that they were connected through their differences on the mural, making it colourful and rich.  Look out for the actual mural and logo being posted here in the next coming weeks!  Watch this space!