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Someone you know is living an artist's life in England

Oppdatert: 6. des. 2022

It is a great honour to have an article written about me in 'my' local newspaper Vestavind which was published today. I say my, although it is 24 (!) years since I left Sveio, where I grew up. But as I say in the article, this is a place I always will return to. A place very close to my heart, in fact, it is in my heart. At least when I am not physically there.

I could not have asked for a better edition, than the advent edition, to have the article published. It is, according to the article, something very special about Norwegian advent, and I absolutely love this time of the year.

A special thanks to journalist Thomas Vallestad Drageset who showed great interest in my artwork, and because of that formulated this lovely piece. I have attached the pages where I feature below, including an English version (translated by me).

Det er ei stor ære å ha ein artikkel om meg i 'mi' lokalavis Vestavind, som blei publisert i dag. Eg sier mi, sjølv om det er 24 (!) år sidan eg forlot Sveio, der eg vaks opp. Men som eg seier i artikkelen, dette er ein stad eg alltid vender tilbake til. Ein stad som ligg veldig nær hjarta mitt, ja, faktisk er det i hjarta mitt. I alle fall når eg ikkje fysisk er der. Eg kunne ikkje bedt om ei betre utgåve, enn adventsutgåva, å få publisert artikkelen. Det er, ifølge artikkelen, noko heilt spesielt med norsk advent, og eg elskar denne tida av året. Ein spesiell takk til journalist Thomas Vallestad Drageset som viste stor interesse for kunsten min, og med dét som grunnlag formulerte denne fine teksten. Eg har lagt ved sidene eg er med i, inkludert ein engelsk versjon (oversatt av meg).

'Living an artist's life in England

ÅSE VIKSE from Skålaskog in Sveio has settled and makes a living as an artist in the village of Whitley Bay outside Newcastle in England. She draws inspiration for her artworks from the sea, whether it is when she is at home and goes for walks by Ryvarden, or walks along the coast on the other side of the sea.

Åse is living an artist's life on the other side of the sea

The artist Åse Vikse grew up in Skålaskog and is an artist in north-east England. How she ended up there is a bit random, but a red line is the love of coastal landscapes and how she is inspired. 'There's something about the sea, it makes me grounded,' she says.

By Thomas Vallestad Drageset (link to article)

- It is completely impossible, to sum up, what is significant about the coastal landscape. Just look at Norway. We have such a long coast that goes from cosy skerries to dramatic mountains that drop steeply into deep fjords, says Åse Vikse. She tries to explain what she thinks is special about the coast, but it is not an easy task. Although she has grown up on the coast and lived near it almost her whole life, it is still difficult to describe how she feels about it. As an artist, that is exactly what she aims to do. Not with words, but with the printing press.

Sveibu outside of Newcastle

— I grew up in Skålaskog, on a small farm. When I say I'm from there, very few people outside Sveio have heard of it, says Vikse. She had a short way to the sea, not far from Ryvarden, and remembers her time at Skålaskog with a smile. 'It was a very nice place to grow up,' she says. Now she still lives along the coast, but on the opposite side of the Norwegian Sea, north-east in England. It does not mean that she has forgotten where she comes from. — It's been a long time since I've lived in Sveio, but at the same time, it's a place I always return to. My parents still live on the farm, says Vikse. Her everyday life is probably what many think of as British. She lives in a terraced house made of red brick on a small street. Nearby, there are small, local shops and foreigners greet and say good morning when they pass. She moved to Great Britain eight years ago together with her husband Kåre. They met in Haugesund when she was attending upper secondary school in Bergen. Kåre comes from Sotra outside Bergen, and was employed at Aibel in Haugesund when they met. He is now employed at Equinor. It was his position that was decisive for them moving abroad. 'We enjoy living here,' says Vikse. First, they lived in Aberdeen in Scotland for a few years, then for a while in London during the lockdown, and now they have finally settled in Whitley Bay outside Newcastle. There she works with what in Norwegian is called 'originalgrafikk' (printmaking), which means that the art you create comes from a printing plate. Vikse tells about a funny conversation where she tried to explain what she did as an artist. — I said I used a printing press, and then she asked if I made books. No, it's art, I replied, but she still didn't understand. Then she asked 'what are you going to do with it then?' and then Kåre replied that 'you hang it on the wall', says Vikse, chuckling.

Coast as a part of herself

The time when society closed down due to the pandemic was one of the things that made it clear to Vikse that she was connected to the coast. 'It was a kind of claustrophobic feeling, because I grew up with the coast and have lived near it until London,' she says.

Suddenly it was illegal to travel more than a short distance from your home. 'Then you realise how important it is,' she says of being close to the coast. She points to the example of Norwegians who emigrated to America in the 19th century. Many of them went inland and experienced something they called prairie madness. - These were people who came from the coast, and were about to become mentally ill because they missed the sea so much, says Vikse. The first thing Vikse and her husband did when society opened up little by little was to travel to Kent, an area with a long coastline. 'There I worked by walking the landscape and making an artist's map,' she says.

Wandering art

Moving through the landscape to be inspired is something many people do in the art world. Vikse gets excited and uses an example from English to explain herself as an artist. The words wander and wonder are both written and sound quite similar. — It suits me well because I like both parts, I ask a lot of questions without necessarily focusing so much on answers. I'm curious, I like to explore, she says. She has always been interested in the creative, and believes that it comes across when you look at earlier works. 'I have motifs from herring fishing, from old Haugesund and from old maps,' says Vikse. — Have you explored wandering art in Norway? — Yes, the main project for my master's degree is from walks in the countryside around Sveio.

- Where? — I went on the Nordsjøløypa, the area along Sletto, the two cholera graveyards in Mølstrevåg and Valevåg. And on Skålskog to a cairn between there and Straumen, she says. Before one has time to ask more questions, she herself asks one. — Have you heard of Smørsundkjerringo? It's quite an interesting story. Someone has made a path out to where she used to live. She was psychic and people came to her for help.

Along with walking, there was also a lot of research on local history, which she uses in connection with her walks.

- I love finding these stories.

Misses Norwegian Advent

Vikse and her husband have bought a small, red cabin in Skålaskog, which previously belonged to Vikse's great-aunt. They are going to renovate it, so that they will have both electricity and water in the tap, eventually. — Writers have writing sheds (Skrivestove in Norwegian), and perhaps this could be mine. I hope it inspires me to make art there, says Vikse. She is looking forward to getting started with the cabin, but in the near future, it will probably be busy for the artist. Two of her prints will be exhibited at the end of November, and she will have a so-called pop-up in Aberdeen. There her art is being displayed in connection with the Christmas market at the Norwegian Sjømannskirke. She was recently accepted as a member of the association of Norwegian Printmakers, which possibly means that she gets to exhibit her art in Oslo. 'It is a declaration of acknowledgement to be accepted by them,' says Vikse. At the same time as she experiences wind in her sails, Vikse also feels joy for what is coming soon, Christmas. There is a lot of Christmas atmosphere in Great Britain too, but she says Norway makes it the cosiest. — I feel they skip Advent. That is perhaps something I miss here, Norwegian Advent, she says. She and her husband have both travelled and experienced a lot together. And they have learned that Christmas tradition is, thankfully, something you can bring with you. During the first 'lockdown Christmas' in London, when they could not travel home to Norway, they made a choice to find a light at the end of the tunnel, an Advent light. - Then we decided to celebrate Christmas here. We made a Norwegian Christmas in London and it was going to be nice. We decorated with Advent candles and purple colours, and then it went really well, says Vikse.'

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