No, not rum but ‘rum‘ a Danish word that can mean ‘space’, ‘room’, ‘place’ or other things, depending on the context – and which is the theme for this year’s Bornholms KultureUge (Bornholm’s Culture Week).

I have been asked by the organisers to make an ‘anamorphic street painting’ for the opening event on Saturday the 16th of September – an ephemeral artwork painted directly on the cobbles of the town square. The brief was simple and non-prescriptive – just to create something non-permanent in ‘Stor Torvet‘ with the theme of ‘rum‘ as the starting point.

Well, I have used the anamorphic technique several times in the past, see here and here, to create a three dimensional space in which the viewers are themselves immersed within the artwork, so ‘rum’ fitted the idea of an anamorphic painting very well from the start. I’ve never created something like this ‘out in the open’, but I very quickly decided I wanted to create something that would grab the attention of passers-by, and have something to do with the whole idea of ‘public art’ – a hot topic on Bornholm in recent months (see below).


Practically speaking, the ‘venue’ posed some specific challenges. The cobblestones themselves are rough and uneven, with large irregular (and sometimes grass-filled) gaps in between. This immediately causes problems with the creation of the three-dimensional illusion that is so important in anamorphic perspective drawing. The square itself is on a slight angle as well, which caused also caused a real headache in terms of defining horizons, vanishing points, levels and so on.
The non-permanence of the artwork also presented the possibility of weather playing an important role (more below…)

So, back to public art – a prickly subject here on Bornholm. Last year, a local fund that supports the arts (and me) called Brøderners Larsens gifted some money towards the creation of three contemporary artworks to be created and placed in the centre of three roundabouts on Bornholm (under the management of the local Arts Council). One of the artworks is already completed see here, and received a certain amount of criticism, but it is the second one that has really lit a fire and caused Local Controversy’. The artist collective ‘Randi and Katrine‘ proposed to create a rather kitsch and humorous sculpture of a Bornholm Round Church (itself a ‘symbol’ of tourist Bornholm) in one of the aforementioned roundabouts – felling the fine tree that is currently in the centre of the roundabout. To cut a very long and slightly tedious story short, the destruction of the tree to make way for contemporary art became a bit of a local story, with many arguing against the artwork in local papers, Facebook and so on. I followed this debate with some interest – on the one hand it is great to see art being pushed into the public sphere, but on the other hand it is depressing to realise just how far removed the ‘normal’ public is from contemporary art practice and its proponents and components. The whole debate became distilled and simplified – ‘tree vs crap sculpture’, ‘nature vs art’ or ‘good art vs bad art’ with very little debate on the potential merits of public art – and more importantly (this!) – how and why the general public could feel so far removed from contemporary art practice in general, and the commissioning of this artwork in particular.


And so on to my idea – in the middle of the town square is a large granite sculpture by recently deceased Japanese Bornholm-based Jun Ichi Inoue. Hemmed in by cafe tables and chairs in the summer, and often completely ignored by passers-by this neglected sculpture is actually a gigantic ‘sundial’ positioned so that light passes between specific points and casts a shadow on  a granite stone at the equinoxes. At various times people have suggested moving the sculpture, while others have pointed out that it is a site-specific work and should not be moved. Whatever the case – there is no question that it is neglected and ignored.

DSCF7825I propose then, to try to draw the public’s attention towards Jun Ichi Inoue’s sculpture, and to the merits and possibilities of public art. Hopefully people – ‘normal’ people – will come and take selfies and look at my painting and Jun Ichi Inoue’s sculpture. Hopefully they will react more positively to public art, who knows? I’m going to be employing the services of former students of mine from Bornholms Art School to help (it works out at about 80sq metres ‘on the ground’), as well as my own kids, and the whole thing is going to be a brilliant experience. Hopefully it’ll work out, and the rain will stay away for a while…

My own personal opinion is that the proposed Round Church sculpture looks questionable to say the least – and I have reservations about the commissioning process (local artists?) – but I have not seen the complete sculpture yet, and reserve judgement (and I can’t wait to see it). In any case, my opinion or ‘judgement’ is meaningless in relation to my support for all sorts of public art in general. I’m not expecting to love everything all the time, but just the idea of public art, the support of the Brørderns Larsens Fund and the inclusion of interesting contemporary artists is a positive thing as far as I’m concerned. Three sculptures on roundabouts on Bornholm – brilliant! And the tree? Why not get local artists such as Hans Henning Pedersen to make something with it? I’m hoping to use some of it in a school project I’m doing next year, if I can…

DSCF7822 DSCF7823

Anyway, back to the town square. The original idea was to have the painting completed by 12 noon on Saturday the 16th of September. This is not going to happen. Bornholm is currently in the grip of an autumn storm and I am checking weather forecasts hourly. All being well, I shall begin on the afternoon of Friday the 15th, and take it from there, working all day Saturday and Sunday. I hope to be completed by 12 noon on Monday the 18th – hopefully I’ll see you there…


Update – the finished work…