Ahead of Å på K – a sales exhibition by artist Åse Vikse, we had a chat with her to learn more about her art and what drives her!
Poster by Vicky King
Where are you from and how does that affect your work?
I am from the southwestern coast of Norway, a small place called Skålaskog in Sveio municipality, where I grew up in a rural environment close to the sea. I don’t think I realised how important the coastal lifestyle is for me personally, having access to the open sea and hearing seagulls in the morning, until I experienced the lockdown in London during the pandemic. The importance of where I come from, in terms of both place and people, is often expressed in my art’s themes and motifs and will be visible throughout the exhibition ‘å på K’.
Tell us a bit about your art
I am a multidisciplinary artist. My journey in printmaking has developed from traditional prints to a more contemporary expression. Expression is key here though, as I use printmaking as a way of expressing myself. While I do still enjoy making traditional prints such as reductive woodcuts, I am currently led more by a fascination for how an object’s imprint may look rather than letting the search for ‘the perfect motif’ lead my process. These directions are both represented in the exhibition, by the reductive woodcut ‘tre’ and the monoprint ‘fjør’ respectively.
I do like to experiment and push boundaries when it comes to our perception of printmaking, but certain factors are important to my practice and may therefore never change.
What themes do you pursue?
I refer to myself as a wandering artist, which describes how influential walking is in any aspect of my life. It embraces, rather than excludes, other themes such as the coast, architecture or social subject matter which are all themes apparent in my broader portfolio of work.
I found myself in somewhat of a limbo when during my MA I wanted to do more than I was capable of, both work- and time- wise. I discovered and took great inspiration from the artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, which solved my problem and led to the combining of tasks, from which the development of my artist’s maps sprung. In the simplest of explanations, these are multiple tasks combined, for example research, activity and documenting. In the broader sense, it also involves psychogeography, storytelling and site-specific work, for example.
How do you make sure you have time to create? Do you have a set time or build it into your calendar?
This is a very interesting question, because you may think that an artist’s main job is to make art, and in an ideal world that is what I would have done all day, every day, for the rest of my life. However, there is a lot more to being an artist, especially when you’re an emerging or early-career artist. In addition to being an artist, I am also my own promoter, marketing person, salesperson and most importantly, in charge of continuously searching for and sending out applications.
I feel, however, grateful and humble for this – and I choose not to call it a career but a lifestyle.
How do you stay motivated when working on a piece that’s challenging?
Sometimes it helps to distance myself from the work and the best way to achieve that is to go for a walk. That, without exception, clears my mind, but sometimes the challenge may be of a technical nature and a clear mind will only go so far. I recently finalised a piece, the reductive woodcut ’tre’ that I will be showing at K. I created it during a time when I needed something to look forward to. I was in doubt about this motif. Was it naive? Was I going backwards in terms of my artistic development? I also experienced the greatest challenge with reductive cut, and this is why it is referred to by some printmakers as ‘the suicide method’. I struggled, but I did not give up, I kept going.
What is the inspiration behind the upcoming sales exhibition?
The simple and short answer to that is Anne at K (the manager Anne Hovland-Pye).
The broader answer is ‘the K’ which of course indicates the place KFUK-hjemmet, but also what the letter K stands for, namely Kvinner (women). I find inspiration in so many women, often pioneer women, perhaps because they have had to work slightly harder to establish paths for others to follow. I like to think everything happens for a reason, and it was during an event on International Women’s Day at K that the first conversations about a potential solo exhibition took place. Clearly, I was meant to attend the happening on the 8th of March at K, and ‘å på K’ is a direct result of that. Anne has been absolutely invaluable in this process. A process that I am relatively new to. å på K would never have happened if she hadn’t encouraged me to organise my first solo sales exhibition. She is (and now also has) a star!
What do you hope people will think when they experience the exhibition?
First and foremost, I hope they will sense a red thread that welcomes them to join my journey. Or, in fact, multiple parallel threads. The threads may lead them to Norway, from coastal scenes to winter appreciation and a walk through the forest, to traditional garments and depictions of everyday life. These threads conform to the story of my heritage and my values.
In addition to this quite personal journey, I hope they will experience my fascination for the multifaceted world of printmaking and hopefully by doing so, obtain a deeper understanding, discover something new, or appreciate more this particular profession. Nothing would please me more! I have chosen to show both old and new work and therefore to emphasise my creative development in print as a process in itself. I wish to highlight development as opposed to change, and to see each work as a representative of that specific stage in my artistic life. Collectively, they represent å.
Please join us at the opening night of the exhibition! More information about the exhibition can be found here.