Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am Norwegian female artist, currently based in Oslo, Norway. I spent my formative years as an artist studying at Wimbledon School of Art and Kingston University. I graduated in 1996 with an MA in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art. ( Winchester / Barcelona) Spent six years in Barcelona, working my way as a an English Teacher and starting my career as a professional artist. I returned to Norway in 2001, mainly because I missed the Scandinavian climate, mountains and snow. I feel great affinity with nature – everywhere really. I am an avid hiker too.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I have always been drawing and making stuff since I was little. My mother who is a ceramicist gave me proper things to draw with and took me to lots and lots of museums and exhibitions. I try to do the same with my own kids, to support and feed their creativity. My parents have been my best supporters. One of my earliest recollections of art was a huge painting by Rufino Tamayo. I was six years old and it had a real impact on me.
What do you like most about working where you do?
At the moment I have just finished a 9 month residency at Irma Salo Jæger and Tycho Jæger Foundation in Oslo. Based in an old factory it is a beautiful big space with all facilities. A real luxury and fantastic opportunity for making work. I am now back to my old studio where I have been based for the last ten years. It is also an industrial building where I am part of an artist collective. Over 50 artists work in the building. There is great comfort in having a space to return to and good colleagues.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
“Concerning the spiritual in art” by Kandinsky was one of the first books we were asked to read at Art College. It still resonates. Because that is what I perceive artmaking to be; deeply spiritual. Although in the art world it has not been wise to say so.. Maybe things are changing …For the last ten years I have been exploring physical, psychological and spiritual processes with painting as the main medium. The outward form changes, but the content stays the same. I am interested in universal themes that is somewhat common to us all, although of course being a woman has a bearing on how I view the world and what kind of experiences I have had. Life, death, birth, joy, loss.. I have used myths, shamanism and yogic practice as starting points, but the works always follow their own logic. Part of my job is to let go and follow where it leads me to. I think I am getting better at that as I get older. To live in awareness and being able to create with that awareness ; that is my goal.
What is your process like?
I read a lot, but it is hard to say if this has a direct influence on my work. It is there as a sort of mental archive for me to use. I always make loose sketches and drawing beforehand, mostly working in series. The images are abstracted images of things I have seen or images that come to me in my mind. My physical self, my body, gives me images to work on and I rely on those images to come come through to me. I work with the canvases on the floor and on the wall, both intuitively and methodologically. The big paintings take about two – three months to finish. With the drawings, like the current sail project I can finish a 50 m2 sail in a week. It is a different way of working, with intense markmaking, a frenetic process in some ways unlike the canvases which take longer to complete.
Is there any theme or subject you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I am interested in many things, I read a lot, about natural history, art history, current art affairs, novels – it all comes together as a big sourcebook. There are many artists I come back to as inspiration, but lately I think Bill Viola has had the most impact. Although his practice seems miles away from my own he has had real bearing on how I think about art and life. I think he has succeded in finding a visual language that many people can relate to. A theme that I return to again and again is how we are intrinsically linked with nature and how this ultimately is at the core of everything.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
The strangest thing was possibly to be asked to paint with a windscreen wiper from a car, on Thai MTV in Bangkok. They wanted me to demonstrate how I made my work and since a squidgy was not available I had to make do with a windscreen wiper from a TV assistants car. I think wrapping myself up in silverfoil – head and all – for a photoshoot – also counts as a memorable experience.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I have always had to split my time between day jobs and art practice. I think to some extent it can be good thing, It keeps you in the real world that you will have to deal with anyway on some level. On the other side if it is too much it can be detrimental to how you work and it takes much longer to enter into the deep processes necessary to make good art. With two children as well it has made me very focused on how I spend my time. Since 2011 I have been working as a project coordinator, educator and curator at Trafo Kunsthall. A rewarding job for sure, but sometimes all I want is to be at the studio making my own work.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice–or both–which has influenced your practice?
I don´t have a mentor, but I do discuss a lot with my partner who is also an artist. I remember being totally put down by some tutors at college. Thankfully I chose to ignore some of that, although some of it I am sure helped me on the way. Getting older I have decided to be my own best friend, so I try to follow my own advice: Do your own thing. Fashions come and go, the minute you are in you are out. If you want to make something that aims to be a more lasting practice I think that is the way.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Basically, do your own thing. Have faith that you have something to offer that no one else can.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
I don’t think it influences my work that much anymore. I feel privileged to be able to join in when I want to, and step back a bit when it is necessary. But to have colleagues, professional artists there that you know you can collaborate or discuss with is extremely important.
My studio is in an industrial building. Ten years ago we got together and made an artist collective, with separate studios, but shared facilities. The need for storage is increasingly a problem, but the studio is nice and still feels like a sanctuary after all these years. Both of my children have been a part of my practice and they have both “grown up” in that studio.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mindset to make work?
I try to start in the morning. Typically 2- 4 times a week, as much as I can. Starting off with a coffee and settling for the days agenda. Then working 4- 6 hours. I always listen to music. Mostly jazz in all variations, and sometimes the same music for months on end.
How significant has attending art school been to your practice?
I think Art school is important to some extent, because it teaches you some rules, that if you are brave enough, you will break later. Lately I have been working with Outsider Art and artists – they have a freedom of expression which is lacking in other kinds of art.
What do you fund most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I think the most frustrating things are not the making of art, but all that surrounds it. The constant promoting, competition, positioning. It is tiring and something I very well could to do without.
How would you define “success” in art?
I am always happy when what I made comes out how I wanted it to be. That is real satisfaction. And to be able to convey something that others can understand or appreciate.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, relating to your work?
I think most recently it has been to receive a residency at such a good and prestigious place. It really made a lot of difference for my work. Also the recent venture into working on spinnakers and sails has been a new and exciting direction in my work. I also find that my painting processes are more established and something I trust. Making art is more and more rewarding.
Are you involved in any self-organized or collaborative projects?
I have been before, but not at the moment. Though I have collaborated with numerous artists on projects related to the work I do for Trafo Kunsthall.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on more sails and a floating show that hopefully will take place next summer. It extends my practice to the outdoors. I am also working on a new series of paintings and wood reliefs.
Anything else you would like to add?
Keep up the good work you are doing as an independent platform. It is really important for artists that there are different approaches and opportunities available.