Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Heritage, Art & Pokémon Go in Oslo

At the end of the summer (I can't believe it's almost three months ago!) we visited Oslo for a few days. I was blown away by what this city has to offer. I have created this photo gallery because there were too many of them to put them all up individually. Below is more detailed information about what we have seen.



We started at Bygdøy Peninsula and visited the Kontiki Museum where Heyerdahl's balsa raft was displayed and the FRAM museum where the polar ship FRAM is shown. It was built in 1892 and is believed to be the world's strongest wooden ship and has sailed the furthest north and furthest south. It was used for three polar expeditions; Nansen (1893-1896), Sverdrup (1898-1902) and Admundsen (1910-1912). We also went to the Viking Museum where we were gobsmacked by the sights of the world's best preserved Viking ships and artefacts such as tools, handcarved cart and even well preserved fabrics!

At the National Museum of Contemporary Art I really enjoyed the conceptual artwork from Ilya Kabakov ("The Garbage Man")  and "Humus Line" by Oddvar I.N. Daren and Lars Paalgard where sound and visuals were combined. The interior of the building was also stunning! The building used to be the headquarters of Norges Bank.

The National Museum for Architecture was in particular of interest to Jaap, especially when he saw he could design his own dream house with the building blocks!
From learning about Norwegian architecture in the museum, we then admired the architecture outside at The Opera House; this is truely a magnificient piece of design. Not only from the outside and from the roof where you can walk on and have amazing views over the city, but also indoors. The waterside restaurant there serves delicious food, Yes, it's expensive but so worth it!

With our Oslo Pass we could travel with any bus or tram in the city so we jumped on one going to Ekebergparken sculpture park. It has a wide selection of large sculptures in a beautiful setting. Art and nature work so well together!!

Even more impressive were the 212 sculptures of Vigeland in Frogner Park. Created in bronze, granite and cast iron, they seek to portray the essence and emotions of human life from the foetus to old age. At the centre of the collection is the "Monolith". Carved from a single block of granite and containing more than 120 figures, the 14 m high sculpture may represent the struggle for existence. Vigeland also designed the outline of the park and was meticulous in his details. He died in 1943. Although the park was incomplete, enough had been done to ensure that it is a faithful representation of his vision.



Along the fjord is Akershus Fortress and Castle. At the end of the 13th century Viking king Håkon V Magnusson decided that Oslo should have a fortress at the top of the fjord and he moved in, the first permanent royal residence in Oslo. The fortress grounds are rich in history and perfect for leisurely walks with great views over the city and fjord. There are even more sculptures to be seen here!

We finished our short city trip at Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. This beautiful building was designed by world renowned architect Renzo Piano and is located on the tip of Tjuvholmen, overlooking the fjord. The privately owned museum houses an extensive collection of Norwegian and international post-war art as well as changing exhibitions of Norwegian and international contemporary artists.

We saw the intriguing piece of Damien Hirst "Mother and Child (Divided)"; a cow and her calf were dissected and each put in a box of fluid with space in between to walk through. Another iconic piece in white and gold leaf porcelain was "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" by Jeff Koons.

But the artist I was most inspired by was Anselm Kiefer and in particular his sculpture "The High Priestess/Zweistromland". This work consists of 200 lead (!) books placed on two gigantic shelves separated by a four-metre high glass plate. Each book is unique and weighs between 100 and 300 kilos! The title contains several references. Zweistromland, the land between the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris, creates association to ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, and the books bring to mind the library of Babylon. The High Priestess refers to a figure on a Tarot card, representing wisdom personified. Knowledge are preserved in books, but Kiefer's lead books preserves their content while at the same time makes it unavailable.

It was such a strong contrast to see us and other visitors admiring this beautiful building and all the artwork, whereas outside the majority of people we saw were youngsters and adults hypnotised by what's happening on their smartphone. It seemed this was a hotspot for Pokémon Go players!

Till next time, Norway...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

North East Open Studios 2016 (2)

Wow, wow,wow.......What an amazing NEOS week it was! I'm still buzzing from the whole experience. I would like to thank the Woodend Barn for giving us the opportunity to exhibit in their spacious gallery, the Gallery Committee for sharing their expertise in setting up an exhibition, Kevin Andrew Morris for the great collaboration and Beate Allerton for her beautiful music performance. But most of all I'd like to thank all the visitors who took the time to come along and have a chat with us. Your positive feedback was overwhelming and has given me the reassurance to continue what I love doing!

Below is an impression of our NEOS week in pictures.

Setting up our exhibition ©Fenfolio2016

My work was mainly on the left hand side ©Fenfolio2016


Smaller items for sale on the right ©Fenfolio2016

Kevin's work was inspired by his grandfather who used to work as a ghillie (=a man who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition) on the river Dee.

Pebble sculpture by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Original items on the right and Kevin's work ("priest", to kill fish)
on the left ©Fenfolio2016

Portrait of his grandfather in terracotta by Kevin
©Fenfolio2016

Wooden blocks made from ceramics by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Ceramics by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Ceramics and original items by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Ceramics by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Ceramics by Kevin and woodturned fish by his grandfather ©Fenfolio2016


Stags from terracotta with WWII medals by Kevin ©Fenfolio2016


Fiddle, hat, tweed and army bag from Kevin's grandfather
©Fenfolio2016

On Monday Kevin organised a workshop where plates, vases and cups were being decorated with decals. Once they were fired later in the week we could pick them up. Some very exciting results!


Kevin showing how to use decals ©Fenfolio2016

Kevin showing how to place decal on ceramics ©Fenfolio2016

 On Wednesday I organised a Creative Sketchbook workshop.


Experimenting with various mediums ©Fenfolio2016


Participants used old books to paint and collage in
©Fenfolio2016


Everyone was in the zone and it was completely silent  ©Fenfolio2016


Covering blank sketchbook pages with ink ©Fenfolio2016


This participant was inspired by womens fashion ©Fenfolio2016


Example of what you can do with an old book for children  ©Fenfolio2016


The tutor had an easy task with this creative group! ©Fenfolio2016


My task is to encourage and reassure the participants in their
individual creative journey ©Fenfolio2016
 
Such an exciting double page in a sketchbook!
©Fenfolio2016


Collage, stamping and drawing on a map of Aberdeenshire
©Fenfolio2016


In just two hours they completely transformed their sketchbook!
©Fenfolio2016


Write, draw, paint and collage
©Fenfolio2016

During the week we received a visit from Woodend Barn's photographer who is responsible for the marketing of all their events. For the first time I had a professional photo shoot! I felt a bit uncomfortable at the start as I'm normally behind the camera, but once I had the idea of practicing one of my yoga poses, I was more relaxed! Thank you Graeme MacDonald for the wonderful images.

Upside down and incognito in between my two assemblages
©GraemeMacDonald2016

 
With one of my figurative drawings
©GraemeMacDonald2016
 
A bit posed but it will do for the marketing!
©GraemeMacDonald2016


Me in front of a figurative painting
©GraemeMacDonald2016

The moment I heard I was accepted to exhibit in this gallery I knew I had to work hard to fill the big white walls. I wanted to show a variety of work and mediums such as handmade prints, digital prints, mixed media drawings and paintings and assemblages (for the very first time!) but mainly all themed around nature and texture. It's a risk because it could have been too much for the visitor but luckily it was all very well received. I even sold a few pieces (see below) and may have a commission or two!


Stripped & Stitched; asssemblage of birch bark and dried leaves
handstitched ©Fenfolio2016

Close-up of assemblage ©Fenfolio2016

Close-up of assemblage ©Fenfolio2016

Close-up of assemblage ©Fenfolio2016

Botanical Pattern; papercut by hand in acrylic frame ©Fenfolio2016

Flow of the Dee; mixed media painting ©Fenfolio2016


Ecotone; drypoint print with embossing ©Fenfolio2016


Close-up of print and embossing ©Fenfolio2016

Highland Cottage; collagraph print in handpainted frame ©Fenfolio2016

 So that leaves me with just one thing......


Sunday, 21 August 2016

North East Open Studios 2016

In just three weeks time North East Open Studios will start again. I'm delighted that this year I will have the opportunity to exhibit my work at the Woodend Barn in Banchory together with ceramicist Kevin Andrew Morris.


NEOS 2016 poster ©Woodend Barn

During the week we will be running two workshops; Rag and Bone Chine (Kevin) and Creative Sketchbooks (Fen). More info and for booking your place, please visit the Woodend Barn's website.

You can find my listing in the catalogue under Fenfolio, number 74. A geographic guide of all the artists participating can be downloaded here. One of the artists in my local area created this Banchory Trail. If you would like to have a hardcopy of the catalogue, please contact me as I still have a few spare.


NEOS Banchory trail

I'm currently working hard to finish a body of new work such as assemblage, papercuts and mixed media work. One of the pieces that will be shown is "Fabric of the Land" (a part has been used for our poster), a large collagraph print with collage.

Fabric of the Land ©Fenfolio2016

"Three Trees" is a second print with slightly different colours from a part of the same plate. The print has been handstitched with waxed bookbinding thread (brown and white).

Three Trees ©Fenfolio2016
I very much look forward to the event and hear the feedback from the visitors. Hopefully see you there!