Interfaith Dialogue by Images

art, recent work, teaching, time-out

Before words, there are images. Before reason, there’s love and courage. Before theology, there’s faith.

Radiant autumn leaves and crisp air outside; indoors, preparations are almost finished. My colleagues Jana and Sofia are carrying chairs around. Samia is away, waiting at the bus station to greet the participants. I’m laying a table with needles and threads of all colours; making a display of tambours along with pieces of cloth, cut to fit.

Morning workshop, preparations; photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Just before 10am, they all arrive: twenty women of different faiths, ages and backgrounds, walking down the long slope to the school building by the lake. After coffee and an introduction round – followed by a moment of silence – we gather in the studio. Everybody is invited to use needle and thread to “draw” what they bring into this day of Art, Sisterhood and Interreligious dialogue.

Morning workshop: capturing images by embroidery;
photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Another 45 minutes of concentration, intermixed with laughs and chatting… and so, the embroideries are more or less ready for presentation, accompanied by a few words from the maker.

Most of us have never met before, but as as the day passes, we’re getting to know each other; our inner worlds revealed, by words and images.

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Images from the soul; photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Next comes lunch – and then another round of sharing. We take turns in listening to each others’ stories. Divided into smaller groups, and tutored by Jana, we practise awareness to factual experiences, to emotions and to inherent values; an exercise, which demands concentration but nevertheless leaves us light in spirit.

191005 42 JJCoffee and fruit break; photo Jana Jakob

For the afternoon workshop I have prepared large sheets of cardboard, washing them repeatedly with Chinese ink. Now they cover a row of tables, assuring there’s space enough for everyone to stand side by side and paint.

First, some experimenting; trying out how wax and pastel crayons, acrylic paint and tissue paper go together with the dark background. Then, take a step back and look for what could emerge from those colour samples… Everybody takes her pick of a new starting point, and begins to work it out. As the individual paintings are expanding, brushstrokes suddenly meet and begin to intersect. How to handle the encounter? In some places, colours blend into each other. In other places, they form distinct edges. Then, again, some bordering fields may be overlayed by stars or connecting dots…

The larger picture unfolds. An adventure.

Painting workshop, process photos (above, photos by Jana Jakob and Sofia Nordin);
in-between spaces (below, photos HHW.)

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The concept for this day of interreligious, feminist dialogue sprung from experiences of an ongoing study circle in Scriptural Reasoning; from a yearn for expanding methods and deepen insights. Also, from the awareness that love and courage can be recognized across cultural borders; that personal faith can be revealed without argument; that images can come to life.

Konst, systerskap & dialog

 

 

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ANTENN 2019

art, recent work, time-out

Back in 2017, a happy collaboration with Julia Adzuki resulted in a Resonance Jam in the old Watertower of Gnesta; a historical venue offering unique acoustic and spatial qualities. Soon, the concept developed into a broader platform as Patrick Dallard of SymbioLab and Karin Lindström Kolterud joined in. Artist group Ljudtornet (“Soundtower”)  formed in 2017/2018, and opened the Watertower to a Sound/Art festival in late August: ANTENN 2018. On a limited budget, the festival managed to present a broad range of sound artists and musicians – all of which declared their wish to return for a next time. One of them, Tomas Björkdal, eventually became a permanent member of the Ljudtornet group and played along with the rest of us…

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Ljudtornet at play in the Watertower;
photo HHW.

And so, ANTENN 2019 was conceived… Thanks to the Swedish Performing Arts Agency and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee – in addition to the municipality of Gnesta – we could work on a considerably larger budget, and thus managed to invite residency artists throughout the summer.

Serious business in ANTENN 2019 administrative board;
photo credit Anka Draugelates

Come September, ANTENN 2019 finally staged two days of live performances and installations by 40+ artists from Sweden and abroad; once more filling the Watertower with resounding waves of light and sound. For anyone who couldn’t be present, the whole programme was live streamed over web radio (and listened to even as far away as Singapore).

My contribution was largely behind the scene. As a painter, I sometimes think of my craft as the faculty of listening with the eyes… here, I had a beautiful opportunity to sit quiet and enjoy the heartbeat of the Watertower, as rendered by so many fervent and sensible performers. Just listen:

 

 

 

 

 

The Meeting

art, grayzone, recent work

Another invitation; another collaboration. At Kulturcentrum Järna, Rudolf Steiner’s mystery dramas will be performed during a five-day event, and a correspondent exhibition engages a number of people from the local arts and crafts scene. Nigel Wells (Virbela Flowforms), Eva-Karin Planman, Sigrid Winkler and I go for co-creating an installation. We choose a space – much like a bridge – where a staircase and two galleries connect with the upper entrance of the large auditorium. The place is central, narrow, open. Nigel makes measurements and sketches. All four of us bring in different components to the process: concepts, such as revelation, playfulness, light, body, image; references – the lamps hanging aloft under the ceiling, the dramatic theme; suggested materials like textiles, water, sand… I could see triangular crystal prisms in the large window facing due west. Mud, says Sigrid, there has to be mud. So, we prepare mudwater from the modelling clay in the workshop of Virbela. We cut and dip fifty metres of nonwoven fabric, and find a drying place in my studio.

Nigel cuts wooden pieces for the frame, Eva-Karin paints them. We calculate and drill holes for the wires. Then comes the mounting; twenty-four prisms hanging in the window, the frame put together and installed. And finally, attaching the veils.

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There it is. A breathing body, a light-and-shadow labyrinth, a crossroads; the Meeting.

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Two Excursions in Art

art, beauty, teaching, time-out

This past week, I put the brushes aside for some days to go places and see people…

First heading West to the city of Gothenburg and HDK Academy of Design and Crafts, where I was invited to introduce the DasArts feedback method to a group of students and teachers at the Jewellery Art Programme. I already knew contemporary jewellery as a dynamic field, and the works of these students were no exception. Dealing with a diversity of topics (such as biomorphology, symmetry, space/surface transformations and trauma healing), they thoroughly proved the potential of thinking through materiality.
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Encouraging inscriptions at HDK:
“Art and Learning/Give Boons and Glory”; (to) “THINK”

During the course of two days, five student projects were presented for feedback; added time for tutorials and evaluation resulted in an intense time schedule, to say the least. Nevertheless, everybody managed to give focused, warm attention throughout the whole workshop – an admirable accomplishment, especially at the end of a semester with exhibitions and examinations drawing close.

Every time I practice this feedback method, I discover new features; in this group, the evaluation talk highlighted themes like stepping out of anonymity, cultivating a practice over time, and shared experience as a common ground for individual development and change. I’m truly grateful to teachers Klara Brynge and Märta Mattsson for the invitation, and to the whole group for our shared experience.

And then I returned home, only to jump forth into another event…
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For the time being, I’m re-framing my engagement in the Storytelling by Art context; and I was lucky enough to be invited to the annual conference of the European Outsider Art Association (this year held in Sweden). The programme – under the theme of E/Quality – turned out to provide a wealth of inspiration, experience and networking potential. Local hosts were the marvelous people of Inuti; a foundation, which provides space for “artistically talented individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals within the autismspectrum”. Inuti is currently running three supported studios in central Stockholm, along with an adjacent art gallery; and building an art collection as well.
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Snapshots from the EOA conference, day 1;
Inuti Lilla Essingen studio (above)
and performance by Anders Wettler (below)

Inuti spoiled us by introducing us to their exceptional studios featuring live art manifestations while in Stockholm – but one conference day was spent in the small town of Sala (approximately 130 kms northwest of Stockholm). Here, we visited Little Istanbul – the ongoing life achievement of self-taught artist Jan-Erik Svennberg – before continuing to the Ivan Aguéli Museum.
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Visiting Jan-Erik Svennberg’s  Little Istanbul

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Now digesting the nourishing, artful, challenging experiences of my excursions; thinking and re-thinking as we walk.