I have spent the last week photographing, drawing and colouring objects from the shelves of second hand shops. The placement of the objects around the shop is sometimes intentionally interesting and other times accidental or dependent on the space available. So sometimes a sewing box will sit near to a deer skull, a scary plastic doll not far from a potato masher, and so on. I love these combinations! They raise questions and are the beginnings of stories – how did these unwanted, valuable or curious things from different places end up sharing a shelf, or shop floor?
I am grateful to Udda Ting and Inspirationab for their hospitality – and to the Swedish artists at the residency for teaching me some basic explanations to ask to draw in each shop. Christina and Christian who own Inspirationab were so kind – they made me a cup of coffee and space to draw, as well as introducing me, and my project, to their customers. I’m going back there on Friday and hope to visit other shops across Tranås throughout my stay.
I have several washing lines of these images! From them I am designing patterns, using various media – paper stencil, gouache and even some screen printing at the Epic youth centre at the end of the week. Every day I’ve been noticing patterns – in the combinations of these objects, in the windows of buildings, patterns on birch tree bark, reflections in the lake and of course the constellation of insect bites building around my knees. I am drawn to both their simple repetition and more complex constructions.
I also visited the fur museum and drew some of the machines, tools and coats created at the height of the industry here in Tranas. Here are a few sketches. The models in the photographs look like paintings, with their smoky 60s eye make up.
Kraftverket, the building where we are staying, was a factory to make machines before it housed the fur production. The grandson of the man who built the factory in the early 1900s came to the building to visit us and brought with him photographs of the workers sat outside the building as well as the mechanics and work inside. The original window arches are beautiful (the building is now plastered). The men sport fantastic moustaches. I wonder what they are thinking – I’m planning a few character studies here. It’s fascinating to learn about the previous incarnations of the building – now that the industry and founders are gone, it is important that its stories are remembered. From copies of two of the images, I created the this collage which combines the outside and the inside of the building.
This week we went on a road trip and visited Vandalorum, an exhibition venue for Swedish and international contemporary art and design. The building is designed by Renzo Piano, creator of the Pompidou centre and the Shard. It is three large barn-like buildings, joined with glass corridors to allow for time to reflect between exhibitions. There we encountered the work of Swedish designer Mats Theselius in his solo show, The Universe of Mats Theselius. He is an avid collector of objects – lego, saucepans, drums, spoons, Braun hair dryers, National Geographic Magazines…and these objects have inspired his design of furniture in unique ways. A Yamaha drum, and a chair that shares many of the stylistic features are displayed together; a cabinet made to measure for a collection of magazines; a coat based on the patterns of birch bark. He has also created a ‘flat pack’ piece entitled The Hermit’s Cabin. Photos below.
It was perfect timing for my project with objects (and my enthusiasm for typography, packaging and functional design). I have some ideas for new work inspired by Theselius’ approach.
Last weekend we went to Colm’s allotment. The sheds here are as beautiful as the houses, with some people having a full on painted cabin on their patch. We harvested peas, raspberries, blackcurrants….and on Sunday afternoon I made some body scrub from the lavender collected. Oats, lavender and olive oil…a complete guess but it works a treat.
For the rest of the week I’ll be preparing some images for screen printing and developing the pattern work. I’ll be running a workshop on book making at the Tranas Library next Thursday 8th August and going to Malmo next Tuesday to explore. Our morning swims are continuing – as are our meetings with the cat who seems very keen on our breakfast.