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Drawing battle lines: Illustrator Ann Kiernan on painting and politics

Irish-born, Berlin-based illustrator Ann Kiernan won two prestigious awards last year for her 'violent but beautiful' work. Here, she talks about the inspiration for her art, her methods, and her keen interest in civil society

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Democracy Rising by Ann Kiernan was created to accompany the article 'Greece's Golden Dawn has been crushed - but its agenda lives on' by Yannis-Orestis Papadimitriou for Progressive International

Democracy Rising by Ann Kiernan was created to accompany the article 'Greece's Golden Dawn has been crushed - but its agenda lives on' by Yannis-Orestis Papadimitriou for Progressive International

A portrait by Ann Kiernan, one of six illustrations for the Washington Post, for a series of articles to mark the second anniversary of the murder of exiled Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi

A portrait by Ann Kiernan, one of six illustrations for the Washington Post, for a series of articles to mark the second anniversary of the murder of exiled Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi

Twitter Jail by Ann Kiernan for Open Democracy. This illustration won her the Moira Gemill Illustrator of the Year and the V&A Illustrated Journalism award

Twitter Jail by Ann Kiernan for Open Democracy. This illustration won her the Moira Gemill Illustrator of the Year and the V&A Illustrated Journalism award

Another of the illustrations in the Washington Post series; this one accompanied a piece written by Hatice Cengiz, about her murdered fiancé Jamal Khashoggi

Another of the illustrations in the Washington Post series; this one accompanied a piece written by Hatice Cengiz, about her murdered fiancé Jamal Khashoggi

Illustrator Ann Kiernan

Illustrator Ann Kiernan

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Democracy Rising by Ann Kiernan was created to accompany the article 'Greece's Golden Dawn has been crushed - but its agenda lives on' by Yannis-Orestis Papadimitriou for Progressive International

The view from her studio in Berlin gives illustrator Ann Kiernan pause for thought when she arrives at her desk every morning. Room 215 looks out on Hohenschönhausen, once the main political prison run by the East German Communist Ministry of State Security, better known as the Stasi.

It was from this grim location that the Stasi spied on its citizens for four decades. The opening scene of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's award-winning 2006 film The Lives of Others, in which a man is tortured with sleep deprivation until he makes a confession, was set at Hohenschönhausen.


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