Happy Sleepy is an art collaboration by Canadian artists Marc Ngui and Magda Wojtyra. We cope with the intensity of our times by telling stories of the hero’s journey and using beauty to pull deeply into the now. Through our art we homestead the future we want to live in, one where cheerful people make brave decisions and consciousness change is key to personal fulfillment and social harmony.
We have been together as a couple since 2000 and we delight in combining our huge range of digital and analog art making skills to produce colorful and thematically flamboyant paintings, textile art, animation, soft sculpture and toys, photos and digital art, installations and video. We also work together on design projects, like websites and exhibitions, for mostly educational and non-profit sector clients. Our individual and collaborative work has been exhibited and published in Canada and internationally.
We both studied architecture at the University of Waterloo, were Toronto based for 6 years, then went nomad (see Internet on the Beach). The long term travel gives us freedom to explore in depth our favorite ideas, especially models of human consciousness and evolution.
Follow us on Instagram @happy_sleepy as we eat and cook and make art in Tepoztlan, a mountain town 2 hours south of Mexico City.
Internet on the Beach
Dedicated to DIY and lifelong learning, in 2005 we gave up our Toronto home and possessions and took up a nomadic lifestyle as art project, dubbed Internet on the Beach. We wanted to experience the techno-nomad existence and to push the boundaries of freedom through technology, see just how far the network goes. Turns out it’s pretty far! And it also turns out that it’s far cheaper to travel full time than to live in a first world city…
During those 5 years we went to 13 countries, always on long-term visits ranging from a few weeks to a few months, including Vancouver, Montreal, and rural Ontario; surf enclaves and coffee mountains in Central America, beaches and cities of South East Asia, a year in the French countryside with chickens and side trips to Rome, Berlin and Amsterdam, 4 months in south India, a month oggling thanka paintings in Kathmandu, 5 months in California, and concluded with a giant road trip from Los Angeles to Toronto. Phew. There are photos from our travels on Flickr. It was inspiring.
We then rehomed in Toronto for 4 years to produce and exhibit new work, including for Eutopia at the Textile Museum of Canada. And since August 2016 we are again nomad, traveling and making art in the mountains of central Mexico.
“The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. Art cannot change events. That was never its function. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed… because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events… the the way they vote, the way they behave, the way they think.”
– L. Bernstein
About Marc Ngui
Marc Ngui (born Guyana 1972, grew up Windsor, Ontario) believes DIY is the way to go and has been making zines since 1989. He divides his energy equally between his inkwell and his digital drawing tablet.
These days Marc’s main ongoing project is to spearhead the Future Parfait project, researching and illustrating the psychological, structural, and social underpinnings of a successful, sustainable eutopian city.
About Magda Wojtyra
Under the name of RNA Studio Magda designs websites and visual identities for educational, research, and small business clients. Most noteworthy (read: most fun) are the zany websites for biochemistry research labs at various universities.
Happy Sleepies are soft, abstract animal toys sewn from an original pattern by Magda based on a drawing by Marc.
Happy Sleepies are enlightened beings because they always remember their freedom to choose how to be. They can zoom around in excited high energy or dream in restful slumber or choose to feel anything in between whenever they want. They offer an alternative to the happy-sad dichotomy of the unpredictability of life and the bouncing between states of existence imposed by the outside world: happy-sleepy refers to the choice everyone has of either a proactive or reserved attitude that one can choose from the inside of oneself towards external circumstances. We can all learn to be internally, emotionally grounded and in that way always have at least a modicum of control of our lives while going with the flow.
Happy Sleepies are made according to rules of luxury and sustainability, shunning waste. For example, the fabrics we use are very high quality, sometimes 100% silk brocade or wool and yet usually come from mill end rolls, or industry cut offs.
Read more and see a bunch of these guys on the Happy Sleepy project page, and some are always for sale in the Happy Sleepy Art and Toys Shop on Etsy. We always have more on hand and love custom requests, so just ask.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
In the Studio
Take a peek at our process and work in progress. (Swipe for more stories.)
Yellow forsythia kaleidoscope photography mandalasWaiting for spring with some forsythia branches blooming on the kitchen table,...
Embroidered mandalas from kaleidoscope photography...In the studio last week we photographed an embroidered mandala with a...
Blue-green mandala photography: embroidery thread,...These photos are studies for the mandala project.