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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Drawing Redi

Redi Asabella is one of my MA research project participants and a close friend of mine. I had a number of photos from projects we have worked on together as well as some more I took from his Instagram...

I started off with a pencil drawing, working from one of my favourite photos which I have taken of Redi. We had just arrived in Berlin, to deliver trainings for the 'YEUF project' we are both working on to mobilise young voters for the EU elections. Redi had been on an overnight flight and had only slept a few hours, explaining that was the cause of the bags under his eyes. At which moment our Greek friend, Alexandros ran off an returned with a tube of something which apparently had 'Greek yoghurt' in it which he proceeded to rub into the skin under Redi's eyes. I was laughing so hard I could barely take the photographs to document this moment.

Redi is originally from Albania, and currently lives there. However, he won the Charlemagne Youth Prize whilst working for an Italian organisation (only applicants from EU member states are elligible for this prize), the Giufa project. I was the last UK winner of the prize, before we left the EU, so me and Redi share a bond as we feel somewhat outsiders when participating in events of the Charlemagne Youth Prize alumni network, especially as we are both supporting our 'YEUF project' despite not being able to vote in the upcoming EU elections ourselves. I made some full length sketches of Redi in charcoal and chalk from photographs which were taken at events we both attended. I was finding it difficult to capture his face in these smaller proportions but I think I captured his physique accurately.

I created a few more sketches in pencil, blue (his favourite colour) chalk and pen from photographs I had taken (at an event we both attended in Prague) and from a photograph I took from his Instagram. I felt these three images were more compelling, but that may have been because the original photographs were more dynamic.

I created this ink drawing from a photograph on his Instagram. I particularly like it because of the effective use of shadow but also because I captured his posture and expression well in this sketch. To me, this image conveys someone who is confident but also compassionate and kind, which is the Redi I know. I particularly wanted to include him in my research project because of his perspective as an "outsider" to the EU, despite the fact that he has lived and worked in multiple EU countries (and the UK), speaks many languages and feels passionately European. Since the UK media and Tory government recently picked on "young Albania men" who were economic migrants, I wanted to give a victim of these demonising narratives an opportunity to tell his side of the story.

Finally, I created this pencil sketch from a photograph on his Instagram captioned 'pensive', which conveys the thoughtful, young man I know. I liked this photograph because of the interesting shadow cast on the wall behind him, however, I don't think this came across effectively in the sketch.

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