Today marks one week left until my solo exhibition 'å at K' in London!
This sales exhibition will be hosted in the grand house in Holland Park, commonly referred to as 'K' (pronounced just like 'call' but without the ll).
On that occasion, I was interviewed by the Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce. Read the interview here https://nbccuk.com/2022/09/07/interview-with-ase-vikse/
(a special thanks to fellow Haugalending Renate!)
Idag er det berre ei veke igjen til separatutstillinga mi 'å på K' i London!
Denne salgsutstillinga blir arrangert i det vakre huset i Holland Park, vanlegvis referert til som 'K'.
I den anledning vart eg intervjua av Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce. Her kan du lesa intervjuet https://nbccuk.com/2022/09/07/interview-with-ase-vikse/
(ein spesiell takk til Renate, også frå haugalandet!)
An extended version of the interview can be found at the end of this newsletter.
Ein utvida versjon av intervjuet kan du lesa på slutten av dette nyhetsbrevet.
Graphic design for 'å på K' by Vicky King
News • updates
I am pleased, honoured and excited that my ceramics pieces 'the sixteen' has been selected for the exhibition 'anxiety of interdisciplinarity'. The exhibition, curated by Sarah Strachan and Ayeshah Zolghadr, will be part of IMPACT 12 in Bristol 21st - 25th of September. IMPACT 12 is the annual international printmaking conference which this year is taking place in the UK. A great opportunity to meet fellow printmakers – I will therefore attend the conference and am looking very much forward to it. Welcome to the anxiety of interdisciplinarity PV, Friday the 23rd 18:00-20:30 at The Island Venue, Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2BE
Read more here https://www.anxietyofinterdisciplinarity.com/impact-12
Eg er beæra og begeistra for at mine keramikkverk 'de seksten' er valgt ut til utstillinga 'anxiety of interdisciplinarity'. Utstillinga, kuratert av Sarah Strachan og Ayeshah Zolghadr, vil vera ein del av IMPACT 12 i Bristol 21. - 25. september. IMPACT 12 er den årlege internasjonale konferansen for grafikerar som i år blir arrangert i Storbritannia. Ein fin sjanse til å møta andre grafikerar – eg vil difor delta på konferansen og ser veldig fram til det. Velkommen til vernissage for anxiety of interdisciplinarity, fredag 23. 18:00-20:30 på The Island Venue, Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2BE
Les meir om ustillinga her https://www.anxietyofinterdisciplinarity.com/impact-12
Kåre and I have been in Norway on our annual summer holiday, and this year something a little out of the ordinary has happened. We took over an old, red-painted hytte (cabin) at Skålaskog, close to where I grew up. This place belonged to my great-aunt Aslaug, and is nicely located on a hill, and called 'Varden'. We had a little limited time at home, but we got a lot done in that short time. So, activities since the last time I wrote are renovations – this time as well! We seem to have renovation projects both here and there now... I look forward to being able to spend time on the Varden, when it is ready for it. To enjoy walking, to relax, and to be inspired to create artwork.
Eg og Kåre har vore i Noreg på sommarferie, og i år har noko litt utanom det vanlege skjedd. Me tok nemleg over ei gammal, raudmåla hytte, på heimstaden min Skålaskog. Hytta har tilhøyrt mi grandtante Aslaug, og ligg fint til på ein høgde som heiter 'Varden'. Me hadde desverre litt begrensa tid heime denne gongen, men me fekk gjort mykje på den korte tida. Så aktivitetar sidan sist er renovering – også denne gong! No har me visst renoveringsprosjekt både her og der... Eg ser fram til å kunna bruka tid på Varden, når den er klar for det. Til å nyta turar, til å roa ned, og til å bli inspirert til å skapa kunst.
Simple and straightforward: take the train.
Rather than seeing it as transportation, look at it as a journey, and enjoy it.
Enkelt og greitt: ta toget.
I staden for å sjå på det som transport, sjå på det som ei reise, og nyt det.
Interview with Åse Vikse
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!
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 rural environment close to the sea. I often refer to myself as a ‘coast person’ which reflects something that is vital to me, both personally and to my creative process. 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, both in terms of place and people, is often visualised in my art’s themes and motifs and will be visible throughout the exhibition ‘å på K’.
Tell us about your work.
I am a printmaker by profession, but during my MA I explored other areas which allowed me to push boundaries and to experiment a lot within the broad and multifaceted field of printmaking and beyond. I am a multidisciplinary artist. My journey in printmaking has, since I joined an evening course in Aberdeen (Scotland) back in 2015, developed from traditional prints to a more contemporary expression. Expression is key here though, as I use printmaking as a way of expressing myself. My earliest prints were often reductive linocut, I dedicated my Honours year (last year of BA) to research and developing woodcut prints which led to an appreciation for material and process. While I do still enjoy making traditional prints such as reductive woodcut, 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. While I do use technology as a tool in my creative process, e.g. I track my walks with an app, my prints are always printed by hand, by me (apart from a lithography print which is printed in collaboration with the supportive and brilliant technicians at Middlesex University). I do not look down on those who use digital print as a medium for their printmaking, because everyone must find their preferred medium, but for me personally, ink is my manicure, the workshop is my domain and I love each stage of the process too much to leave it to machines. I am very proud of my profession.
Is there any differences to practicing art in Norways vs the UK?
This is difficult to answer because as an artist I have only practised professionally in the UK. I gained my BA in Communication Design (Illustration) in Scotland and my MA in Fine Art (Printmaking) in England, therefore I have developed my artistic language abroad. However, I hope to be able to create more of my art in Norway and to be represented there in the future. We recently took over an old ‘hytte’ (cabin) at Skålaskog that belonged to my late great aunt. It is small and spartan but I envision it as a place where I can create artwork in the future. Close to nature and the open sea – I can already sense that ‘Varden’ (meaning the cairn) as the property is called, will create a calm atmosphere that will allow and welcome creativity.
What's your biggest barrier to being an artist? How do you address it?
I have a tendency to overcomplicate and overthink which may not lead anywhere in a creative process. I have often experienced that a creative blockage may resolve itself the moment I reduce my expectations or decide to ‘just do it’. There’s a reason why the saying ’the simplest if often the best’ is a good slogan.
Is there something you do today that you wished you had known to do years ago?
I try not to dwell on things that I haven’t done or that didn’t happen. If it is meant to be, it will come to you when you and they (or the universe) are ready for it. Surely, if I had discovered my passion for printmaking earlier, my artistic life might have looked different today, but I have gained experience, knowledge and picked up other skills on my route to getting where I am today. I have arrived here now, I am content, let’s move forward with what I have.
If I can give a simple piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue their artistic career though, it is to communicate through their artwork and dare to be personal and honest. There is always someone who will appreciate what you communicate through your work, even if it’s only one – that one person is worth it.
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. I am the best version of myself when I create (which is something that my husband would probably agree on too). I mentioned my passion for printmaking which is very strong and is what keeps me going, but there’s 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, sales person and most importantly, in charge of continuously searching for and sending out applications.
I feel, however, grateful and humble for this – and I chose not to call it a career but – lifestyle.
There is currently so much on my calendar to look forward to, first å på K, then Impact 12 which is the International Printmaking Conference in Bristol where I will also be showing some pieces, but after that, I will have to ‘land’ and create a calmer space. This will hopefully be filled with time to create. We have recently relocated from London to the north (of England) where I have been reunited with the coast. I look forward to the autumn, perhaps a more peaceful period which allows reflections, walking on the beach and most importantly – as a result of that – creativity to flow!
Is there a specific environment or material that's integral to your work?
Definitely. My heritage in general often appears in my work’s themes which will be visible throughout the exhibition. More specifically, my coastal heritage is such a strong influence that it may appear simply as a result of inspiration. I may well have worked with the same subjects if I worked as an artist in Norway, but I think it’s interesting how you appreciate your roots from afar and how important it becomes to nurture them there. Contradictory perhaps, but I found myself closer to my motherland once I had removed myself from it, something I believe is present in the prints I have selected to be shown at K.
In terms of material, I have become increasingly interested in found objects and often use them in my prints, either as integrated or as the main element. I gravitate towards the mentality of ‘use what you have’ which is something I explored in my MA major project, both theoretically and creatively. Going forward as an artist, I wish to move toward a more environmentally sustainable practice and experiment with organic materials such as handmade paper and plant-based ink. I have been selected for an artist residency in the Westfjords on Iceland in September 2024 where I aim to explore these ideas and investigate alternative, sustainable techniques further. The future looks bright, but only if we choose sustainability.
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 welcomes, as opposed to excluding, 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 a somewhat limbo when I during my MA wanted to do more than I was capable of, both work- and time-wise. I discovered and retrieved great inspiration from artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles which solved my problem. It led to combining tasks and from which the development of my artist’s maps sprung. In the simplest explanation, these are multiple tasks combined, e.g. research, activity and documenting. In the broader sense, this involves e.g. psychogeography, storytelling and site-specific work. It was while I created one of these artist’s maps, ‘the coastal map’, on a walk from Hythe to Folkestone, that I realised how crucial the coast is to me. I arrived at the Kent coast after months in somewhat isolation during the lockdown in London. I realised the true meaning of ‘præriesyke’. This is a state that Norwegian author Edvard Hoem refers to in ‘Bror din på prærien’ (Your brother on the prairie), one of the books I chose to interpret in prints, as part of my BA (Honours) major project. I do relate to some of the people in his family chronicles, initiated by his great grandfather the scyther (Slåttekar i himmelen), where many either chose or were forced to emigrate. However, without comparing myself to those who left Norway in the stories told by Hoem – as I am not a poor immigrant, nor did I live in a dugout on the prairie – but nevertheless, my reunion with the coast was emotional.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Hah! You wish.
How has your style changed over time?
It has changed from relatively naturalistic depictions, such as my earliest interpretations of archival or found photography, towards a more concentrated focus on communication. This can be a certain story I wish to tell through a print or a curiosity regarding an object’s story. I am now approaching the print process with queries, more so than looking for the perfect print.
A very good example of how my style has changed is two portraits of a hytte (Norwegian cabin), not the same hytte though, but the motifs depict two small, traditional, red-painted, wooden buildings. One is a reductive linocut from 2016, and the other is an artist’s map from 2022. The latter is currently a work in progress, but hopefully, I will be able to show it at K.
Where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, anywhere and everywhere, from anyone and anything.
I may find a simple walk incredibly inspiring as I will always discover something new. The mesmerising colours that appear during an evening walk on the beach, or the odour of wild garlic - they will
I find great inspiration in other artists, for instance by going to an exhibition, a museum or even a theatre play because it will generate a lot of creative reflections. During the lockdown, physical interactions e.g. in art galleries evaporated and forced me to look for inspiration elsewhere. I found Instagram to be a useful tool and connected with printmakers who I still follow today. A somewhat virtual assistant, my Instagram account presents my art, promotes my work, shares my artistic process and welcomes people to connect. Additionally, it’s a good way of keeping up to date with everything that goes on in the art world. Concrete examples are open calls that I have found through Instagram and applied for, or exhibitions that I have discovered and visited. By connecting with other practitioners in your field, you may gain new insight and inspiration, but also motivation. Positive comments or a ‘like’ doesn’t necessarily mean that someone wants to buy your art or that you are suddenly a success, but speaking from experience, positive feedback has pushed me into doing things I had never thought I would manage or dare to do. I relate quite relaxed to those who do not find my art interesting as long as they have ‘read’ the context. Positivity is my preferred motivation and equally, I choose to mute negativity.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Out of all your questions, this may be the most difficult to answer, for two reasons. First, there are so many, and second, I tend not to select or position hierarchically. I am incapable of saying who is the biggest. There are some worth mentioning though, and influence may come as valuable advice from artists whose work you admire. My printmaking tutor Katherine Jones RCA challenged me to create larger and more colourful pieces, which initially was intimidating. In reality, I would have never started making large artist’s maps without her advice. Advice may come to you in any form. These maps also drew great inspiration from the playfulness in Paul Klee’s statement on drawing ‘like taking a line for a walk’ which is what I literally do in the mapping process. Anni Albers was a student of Paul Klee at Bauhaus and was a trailblazer in terms of textile art. What many may not know is that she later in life discovered a passion for printmaking. Anni is one of three women I have portrayed in the ongoing series of prints ‘Pioneer women’ which should indicate how influential these women are, who dare to go their own way, led by their strong beliefs and passion for what they do.
For my BA dissertation, I researched and wrote about the late artist couple Engel and Nikolai Astrup under the theme of creative practitioners who are living and working in what is sometimes referred to as the periphery. I visited ‘Astruptunet’ (the couple’s croft in Jølster) in the summer of 2019 with the idea of basing my dissertation on the history of printmaking or specifically woodcut from a Norwegian aspect, where Nikolai was a pioneer. I returned from Jølster to Aberdeen, confident that I had to write about the couple Astrup. One’s history did not exclude the other’s, they inspired and pushed each other’s creativity, and Engel deserves a place in Norwegian art history as well. She was a printmaker.
Lastly, I saw an exhibition at Dulwich picture gallery in London, the same gallery that hosted the first international Nikolai Astrup solo exhibition in 2016. In 2021 it hosted the first major UK exhibition of woodcuts by the late Helen Frankenthaler. Her groundbreaking work with colours in woodcut prints was inspiring, but what made the strongest impression was a quote that resonated with my refusal of being conventional, ‘go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about’.
Does art help you in other areas of your life?
For sure, art offers a space for me to breathe, create, explore and simply be me. It offers a breathing space that will hold my reflections and thoughts, and safe space when the world seems hostile and vile. I find calmness in art and ways to express myself. While the audience may judge based on your art, your artwork will never judge you. An honest and true companion, I use it as a way of communicating, well aware that I am always the one who will have to initiate the conversation.
How do you stay motivated when working on a piece that’s challenging?
Sometimes it helps to distance me from the work and the best way to do so 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. The theme is light, and the motif is retrieved from a walk on the island Bømlo last summer. I was walking with family members and we went from the ruin of my grandparent’s former home, through a forest, towards the openness of the sea.
To be completely honest, 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 why it is referred to by some printmakers as ‘the suicide method’. I struggled, but I did not give up, I kept going. I used knowledge and techniques that I learned from other printmakers, such as how Nikolai Astrup treated the woodblock like a painting which resulted in – although editioned – unique prints. I also focused on the motif, without sounding too dramatic I aimed to convey a walk towards the light. So to answer how I keep my motivation up – I try to recalibrate and focus on the core story, the theme, the motif. In this case, a guiding light.
What is your process for critiquing your own work?
I mentioned judgement earlier and in terms of that, I am my own worst enemy. This is one of the reasons why I have decided to slow down the never-ending search for ‘the perfect print’ because I don’t think I will ever find it or whether it even exists. I am too much of a perfectionist and this search becomes an exhausting hunt.
I have moved towards a more conceptual and process-led art practice because it resonates with my way of conveying stories. I think the key here is that as opposed to critiquing, I value instead. I value each stage of the artistic process equally and as a result, I appreciate the outcome in an enhanced way if I have managed to stay in the process. This again reflects my view on hierarchy. Although I can see the problematic in refusing to view the final product as the primary product of a process, my comment as a wandering artist is that I am able to value the goal or end of a journey in a greater way if I have been the one who walked towards and reached that goal. Then the end of a journey may in fact not be the goal itself or the primary product of the journey.
Have you ever said 'no' to an opportunity? How did you decide to say no?
I try to continually push myself out of my comfort zone and avoid saying no to opportunities.
I think it’s important to have a positive attitude and therefore approach opportunities with a ‘yes’ mentality. I would not have been where I am today if I had chosen the safest way, which in some cases is, to say ‘no’.
That being said, I think you should listen to your heart and your head equally. Don’t say yes simply because it is a great opportunity if it doesn’t feel comfortable or if you are unsure whether it is your thing.
There was an opportunity that required me to host workshops which not necessarily is a problem, but I didn’t have any previous experience with it, and I would have had to teach young children. I came to the conclusion that it might not have been right for either me or those who attended the workshop if I said yes. I did not say no directly, but I was honest about my limitations within this area. I guess it was a polite way of giving them the opportunity to ask someone else, who would be right for the task.
How can your work affect societal issues?
I don’t know whether it can, I can hope though, that it can. And perhaps in a way of summarising, I hope that through my art I can motivate others by focusing on themes such as sharing, welcoming and including. I believe in encouraging rather than discipline, in complement rather than criticism and in educating rather than demanding. While I would like to say that no one is above the other, I also wish we could reduce the volume on the screaming voice of Jante (law). It can be incredibly destructive, which is perhaps something that has caught my eye from my viewpoint over here.
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, as mentioned 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 happened. 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 everyday life depictions. 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.