Artist: Barbro Raen Thomassen
1.Where do you live in 2020? Please describe the place and the surrounding environment.
I live in the outskirts of Birkenes, an inland forest municipality in southern Norway. Although we are not quite alone in the forest, we see no neighbour houses from our place. The landscape is hilly with trees and a tiny little lake near by. As we are keen on feeding the birds, we have lots of them chirping around all year. Now and then a roe deer or a hare might be seen. The nearest cities are Kristiansand and Lillesand.
2.How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect you personally in your country and its countermeasures?
Up to now Norway has been the nordic country with least infection, while in Sweden and Denmark the situation is very serious. It is therefore almost impossible to meet across the borders. Within the country we are only allowed to gather in small groups or cohorts. Many arrangements have been cancelled or postponed. Luckily the two exhibitions I was involved in this Autumn, one in Oslo and one in Lillesand, were allowed to take place, with restrictions. They were both carried out closely before a new wave of infection reached us and things were closed down again.
3.Where is one of the places you enjoy most this year? How do you spend your time there? can you describe what it looks like?
Besides working in my studio, I love gardening. We have a nice kitchen garden where we grow flowers and herbs, but first and foremost vegetables, providing us with food. I love to see seeds sprouting, each one heading for its specific determination, be it carrots, beetroots, leeks, beans, peas, lettuce, parsley, reddish, tomatoes. I admire the various shapes of them, the colors, the freshness, the tastes. Using only ecological methods I care much for the soil and its hidden micro life, without which there would be no growth.
4. Where is the farthest place you have been this year?
The farthest place I went to this year, was Jølster in western Norway, a long days journey by car from here. The Jølster municipality encircles a large oblong lake and is itself encircled by mountains. The painter Nicolai Astrup, who became famous after his death, lived and worked here.
esides painting he grew fruits, rhubarbs and vegetables. Someone saw a parallel between his life a hundred years ago and my practice today. I was invited there to tell about my art and my gardening. Afterwards, on our way back home, my husband and I hiked for five days in the massive mountains of Jotunheimen.
5.Who do you live with in 2020?
I live with my husband who is a musician and writer, and with four hens.
6.How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the way you work?
I have for many years now worked with seeds, growing them, drawing them, enlarging them, sculpting them in stone. The seed has many and rich metaphors. There is no despair in a seed, only life waiting for the right conditions to sprout and grow. If the Covid-19 pandemic has affected my work, it is by underlining the need for hope, compelling me to continue.
7.Has your work been promoted in some way?
Unexpected and strangely enough in the pandemic year of 2020 several unsold works made during the last 10-15 years have been asked for. Five sculptures have been placed in a kindergarten in Oslo, five other sculptures will soon go to Telemark, and two new seed objects are planned for a village garden for people with dementia in Oslo.
8.Are you more anxious this year than in previous years? If so, how do you relieve your anxiety?
Living in a forest, carefully socializing with others, I feel quite safe. However, I miss deeply seeing my son and his family in Sweden. And I miss colleagues and friends.
9.Recommend some movies or books you have seen this year (or a poem), you can briefly explain why.
I would like to recommend The Specials, a powerful French social realistic movie by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. A meeting with autistic young people and two indefatigable helpers. Cannes Festival critique Fionnuala Halligan writes: ´We may be comfortable in our ignorance, or avoidance, but Nakache and Toledano want to help us out of that.´
A piece of music that touched me deeply was Beethoven´s Egmont Ouverture with Chief Conductor Nathalie Stutzmann and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra during The Beethoven 250 Festival this year. The subject of the music and dramatic narrative is the life and heroism of 16th-century nobleman Lamoral, Count of Egmont, from the Netherlands. In his Ouverture Beethoven expresses his own political concerns through the exaltation of the heroic sacrifice of this man condemned to death for having taken a valiant stand against oppression. Conducted by Nathalie Stutzmann, regarded one of the most outstanding musical personalities of our time, the concert was a sublime moment.
我推荐埃里克·托莱达诺(Eric Toledano)和奥利维尔·纳卡奇(Olivier Nakache)执导的一部有力量的法国社会现实主义电影《标准之外》。电影关于患有自闭症的年轻人和两个不知疲倦的社工相遇的故事。戛纳电影节评论家菲奥努阿拉·哈利根写道：“我们可能对自己的无知或回避感到满意，但纳卡奇和托莱达诺想要帮助我们走出困境。”
10.Have you ever imagined what human life would be like after the end of COVID-19 pandemic?
I hope we shall stop exploiting common resources for the sake of mere profit. I hope we will take better care of soil and earth, water, air, plants, insects, fish, birds, animals and of each other. We need to behave and act with reciprocal respect and awe. Our future existence depends on it.
关于艺术家 about the artist
Barbro Raen Thomassen
I never cease to marvel at the power of very small things. Like a seed, or a butterfly egg. I love discovering the astonishing beauty in them and then enlarging them, making the invisible visible. My art works pay close attention to nature. I sculpt, I carve, I draw, I write, I embroider, I do installations and I make mail art. As an artist I am familiar with paper, concrete, fabric, wood, glass, soil, grass, ash. Stone has, however, become my main medium in the last years. Welcome to visit www.raenthomassen.no