ERTHOLMENE

(denne blog på dansk se her)

In May this year, I spent seven wonderful days painting and drawing on the ‘Pea Islands’ (Ertholmene), more commonly known as Christiansø. The project was inspired by my 2018 KYST project, and I started each day at sunrise and stopped with the sunset – outside in all weathers, trying to make a physical and emotional connection to the islands by watching, looking, painting and recording. Once again, all the artwork was completed on the day, but whereas for the KYST project I stayed as close to the coast as possible, here I divided the islands into seven consecutive ‘zones’, one for each day, and allowed myself to wander and explore within these areas as much as I liked.

A GPS record of my wanderings on the first day

Situated about 12 miles northeast of my home island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, Christiansø is home to about 90 residents, as well huge numbers of eider ducks, auks, seals, frogs and toads. The islands share a fascinating cultural history, and during the 17th and 18th centuries were converted into a huge naval fortress, which has remained largely unchanged since it was decommissioned in 1855.

ERTHOLMENE 04.02 Udsigt mod Coucherons Bastion

In the summer, Christiansø is a popular tourist destination from Bornholm, and hundreds of visitors take the ferry from Gudhjem each day, returning after spending three or four hours traipsing around the islands. In May, however, there were few tourists, and I was lucky enough to experience a taste of the sensations and experiences that the islands offer. My biggest challenge was the incredible richness of the flora and fauna and the overwhelming amount of things I wanted to paint. Add to this the ever changing light and weather conditions, and I had a very intense seven days that left me quite exhausted.

ERTHOLMENE 01.05 Ederfulge ved Frederiksø

On my return, I shifted my focus to the exhibition and book I had already planned. In the beginning of July I returned to the islands with my paintings and enjoyed another incredible week – this time showing my work at the tiny gallery Palivaren on Christiansø.

Just in time for the exhibition’s opening I managed to write and publish the book ERTHOLMENE, once again with the help of the designer Nye Hughes from Dalrymple in Scotland, with whom I had worked with for the KYST book. The ERTHOLMENE book is smaller (60 pp), softback and follows the same layout and narrative style of its big brother.

At the time of writing, the book is available to purchase in many of Bornholm’s bookshops and galleries. The price is 150kr (£15 Pounds Sterling). If you are not able to visit Bornholm, drop me an email stating your address and how many copies you would like, and whether you’d like it signed – and I’ll let you know how much the postage and packing costs. Payment can be made by Mobilpay, Paypal or bank transfer.

The paintings are also for sale – many are sold, but not all – so let me know if you’re interested in any of them.

Screenshots from the book

FIRKANT 06

From the very beginning of this project, I really liked the idea of creating the illusion of a square/firkant of ‘Spring/green/non-snow’ surrounded by ‘Winter/white/snow’. In my mind, I saw a green grassy square surrounded by virgin snow – I would shovel the snow out of the firkant and create a perfect square of non-snow. The other Fire Kanter I had made were created on a level plane, but I also liked the idea of playing a bit with the perspective and creating a firkant partly on a non-level plane. That was the plan anyway.

Although we had already had light snow and minus temperatures since the New Year, we hadn’t yet had real deep snow – so I was very glad when the forecasters promised a proper snowfall in the first week of February. I settled on a small local quarry, Bjergebakke Stenbrud, as the venue for Firkant 06 – I knew I would be undisturbed and would have the ability to project the firkant onto the sloping sides of the quarry. I have worked and painted there before, and I find it a very inspirational place. Once all the snow had fallen, I made a preparatory recce and looked at the snow quality, the direction of the sun and shadows and where I could locate the firkant. I needed a day without further snow, and when that was promised I was ready to start – everything was perfect.

The first mistake I made related to the positioning of the firkant. The smallest adjustments of the angle and direction of the camera eye result in potentially huge changes in the form and size of the firkant (as it is on the floor, rather than as it is as seen from the point). I made the firkant much too large, which meant a lot of shovelling. In some places the snow was over 50 cm high, and I only had a old shovel. I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and effort if I had adjusted the angle of the camera a few milimetres up.

Another problem I hadn’t really recognised, was that – in order to keep the snow surrounding the firkant untouched, I would need to leap from the edge of the ‘picture’ into the firkant, where I could then begin shovelling. This meant that all the snow I cleared needed to be transported ‘out’ of the firkant and then out of the ‘picture frame’. I did this by filling IKEA bags with snow, then chucking them out over the ‘picture edges’, leaping out of the firkant making sure not to damage the virgin snow, emptying the bags and then leaping back again and repeating the process. Many times.

It didn’t take me long to realise that it would take me more than one day to clear the firkant. Other problems: the ground I was clearing was in turns grassy, stony, or rocky. In some places small bushes lay under the snow, which also needed to be cleared. My snow shovel – and my sanity – started to crack. Then, despite the weather forecasts, it started snowing and blowing quite heavily. The parts of the firkant I had cleared started to fill up with snow again. I had taken a dustpan and brush, with the naïve hope of eliminating all the snow completely, but it soon became clear that it would be impossible. By the end of the day I had hardly made any impact and was very close to giving up.

The next day was indeed sunny, which unfortunately meant that the snow developed an icy crust, which made it even more difficult to shovel. The south facing edge of the firkant started melting and drooping in the sun, despite the air temperature remaining well below freezing. I had to enlarge the firkant in order to maintain the illusion of a square, but even the tiniest change meant IKEA bags and IKEA bags of new snow to be cleared.

Returning for the third day I noticed how the cleared square had been visited by the local fauna. Hare and deer tracks led into the square, and raven wings had left beautiful imprints in the snow. I cleared as much as I could and then decided enough was enough. I never managed to clear the square completely of snow as I had imagined, but I decided I would let nature take its course. The forecasters promised warmer weather, and I imagined the snow and ice remaining in the square would soon be melted completely away.

Returning again and again, the thaw has indeed melted nearly all the snow in the firkant, but it has also completely melted one of the sides, destroying the illusion of a square. I will return sporadically and keep documenting the firkant as it slowly disappears and is consumed again by the landscape. Perhaps the fact that I scraped the snow with the shovel will leave some sort of shadow on the new growth of grasses in the Spring. In many ways Firkant 06 has been a failure, in that I never achieved the sharp distinction between the virgin snow and green grass that I envisaged. However, it was an interesting and unforgettable experience and I have really enjoyed seeing it change over time. I also may have saved the lives of a few birds and mice by exposing all that grass.

For me, the Fire Kanter project is all about physically getting to grips with the landscape, and learning more deeply about the place that I find myself in.

FIRE KANTER

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FK 01 lavede jeg på den 10. januar, da vi havde frostvejr på Bornholm. På en mark tæt på Vestermarie, kradsede jeg i isen for at skabe en firkant, som ser kvadratisk ud fra et bestemt punkt.

’Fire Kanter’ er navnet på et nyt årskunstprojekt, jeg arbejder på i 2021. Nu hvor KYST udstillinger og bogen endelig er færdige, leveret og fordøjet, er jeg klar til og spændt på at begynde et ny struktureret og tidsbaseret kunstprojekt.

Jeg ville bygge videre på flere af temaerne fra KYST, men alligevel lave noget helt andet. Jeg elsker at skabe struktur eller rammer over længere tidsperioder, og er meget glad for at fordybe mig på den måde, men jeg ville også gerne ændre formatet og arbejde videre med nogle af de anamorfisk og land art installationer, jeg har lavet inden for de sidste år.

’Fire Kanter’ er anamorfiske kvadrater – stedsspecifikke installationer – skabt og fotograferet i den bornholmske natur. Jeg vil gå rundt ude i naturen, i skoven, på marken eller langs kysten, og vælge et punkt i rummet. Set fra dette punkt, vil jeg flytte, ændre og bytte tingene jeg finder rundt for at give illusionen af et kvadrat, der ’hænger’ i naturen. Jeg vil sætte mig i naturen og på den måde skabe en tæt og stoflig forbindelse med mine omgivelser.

Da det er et anamorfisk kvadrat, betyder det, at det område jeg arbejder med ikke er kvadratisk i ’virkeligheden’, men kun vil virke kvadratisk fra et bestemt punkt i rummet. Udfordringen er at skabe illusionen i et dynamisk sted ved kun at bruge naturmaterialer. Vinden, temperaturen, niveauforskelle og de formbare naturmaterialer bestemmer, om det er muligt, og om det kan lykkes. Lige nu (midt i januar) har jeg hundredvis af forskellige ideer og steder, men kun mulighed for at prøve at lave nogle af dem.

FK 01

Jeg vil gerne lave mindst en firkant om måneden, men forhåbentlig nå at lave flere. Mit mål er at skabe værker, der beskriver eller afbilder både tidens gang og den mangfoldighed af natur, der findes på Bornholm. Nogle af dem bliver lavet på velkendte steder, andre vil nok ligge mere skjult. Nogle varer kun i få timer, nogle andre meget længere. Men alle de ’fire kanter’ bliver med tiden genoptaget af naturen.

Jeg vil prøve at skabe disser naturskulpturer med så lidt brug af værktøj som muligt – kun mit kamera og kamerastativ, hvis det overhovedet er muligt. Jeg vil dokumentere processen undervejs, når den er færdig, og måske efter værket begynder af forsvinde ind i naturen igen. Disse billeder bliver delt på Instagram, Facebook og bloggen på min hjemmeside. Måske maler jeg selv de fire kanter i virkeligheden. Måske vil jeg prøve at skrive en bog eller lave en udstilling om projektet i 2022, og jeg kunne godt tænk mig at udstille nogle af ideerne og skitserne. Men måske alligevel ikke – det er et personligt og selvfinancieret projekt, som måske også forsvinder med tiden.

FK 01 – og tre dage efter…

’Fire Kanter’ er for mig en anden måde at skabe en forbindelse med den bornholmske natur. At være i landskabet og at flytte tingene rundt – jeg kan ikke undgå at blive engageret på en dyb og betydningsfuld måde. Landskabet selv giver materialerne, værktøj, motiv og sted – kunsten er inde i det, der bliver afspejlet.