How did you come up with the idea to produce Unseen Westeros?
Where do the artworks take place in The World of Ice and Fire?
Elio: The artwork in Unseen Westeros covers a wide span of the history of The World of Ice and Fire. Some of them are contemporary with the time of the novels or the TV show, but other pieces feature places much older. For example, the oldest city or place depicted is Stygai, a mysterious ruin within the Vale of Shadow. It’s a place that terrifies shadowbinders, rumored to be haunted by ghosts and demons. Who built it? Where did they go? No one knows. It was a place that was old when even the Valyrians were young. Similarly, the Free City of Lorath is another place that has a long history lost to time. Today, in the time of the novels, it’s inhabited by the descendants of Valyrian colonists… but before them, the Andals (who eventually settled Westeros) were there, and before them the “hairy men” … and before them, the “mazemakers”, whose race or identity is unknown. They left labyrinthine structures across all the isles of Lorath, but simply vanished, and to this day those who inhabit Lorath have made their towns and homes within the mazes they left behind.
How much description does George R.R. Martin offer in the books when describing the different cities and people?
Elio: Some places have more information than others. Lorath, for example, is very well described because in The World of Ice and Fire, George took the time to lay out the history in detail. The castles of the Great Houses were all described in great detail at one point. Sometimes George has surprising levels of detail about what seem to be minor characters, and other times he is very open to interpretation on more significant characters. That said, as a rule, he feels that he should not constrain artists too much. He wants them to use his descriptions as guidance, but he also wants their best work, and that often means giving them creative license to explore or expand on his ideas in ways that he never imagined.
“The Great Tourney at Harrenhal” by Sven Sauer
How important was it for the artists to stay true to the source material?
What were some of the creative challenges the artists faced when creating their pieces?
Are there key visual elements that are repeated throughout the world of Westeros?
Sven: Before we started with the paintings, we had one of the artists, Tobias Mannewitz, set up a style guide with different color-codes of the yet known places: Dorne always appears in yellow light, winter fell in rainy green-blue.
What can visitors to the exhibition expect to see when they come to Berlin in January?
The Unseen Westeros Exhibition takes place this January 2019 in Berlin. Visit the website for information.