Crafts 2017

Svein Ove Kirkhorn: Picnic.
The annual, juried exhibition for contemporary crafts from Norway opened 14 October at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum

The exhibition Craft 2017 opened on 14 October at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, a national museum of decorative art and design in Trondheim, Norway. This is the 40th edition of the juried exhibition, which is organized by the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts (Norske Kunsthåndverkere). It is the largest presentation of contemporary craft in Scandinavia.

«The exhibition takes the pulse of whatever’s happening in craft and reflects the versatility in this field of art. So if you’re curious about what’s happening right now and you like the combination of exquisite craft and innovation, this exhibition is a must»

says jury chairman Edith Lundebrekke.
Prize winners Ahmed Umar and Irene Nordli
The jury of Crafts 2017, from left: Anne Thomassen, Edith Lundebrekke, Steffen Wesselvold Holden and Reinhold Ziegler

Prize to a pioneering artist who works with contemporary ceramics
Every year at the exhibition opening, prizes are awarded for the most notable works in the exhibition. The Craft Prize from the Visual Artists’ Assistance Fund amounts to 150,000 NOK, and the Debutant Prize from the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts is 25,000 NOK.

This year, the Craft Prize has been awarded to Irene Nordli(b. 1967) for the work Rotfylling (Root Canal). The jury, which consisted of textile artist Edith Lundebrekke, ceramic artist Tovelise Røkke-Olsen and art critic Gustav Svihus Borgersen, justified its choice:

‘The jury has chosen a heterogeneous work that viewers cannot avoid being gripped by, regardless of their background knowledge or experience. This is a complex work you want to return to time and time again.’

In the press release, Irene Nordli is described as a pioneering artist in the field of contemporary ceramics. She creates contemporary art with porcelain and other types of clay. She is known for her figures that combine aspects associated with animals and people – often in combination with a burlesque expression. Since graduating from Bergen National Academy of the Arts in 1996, she has held numerous exhibitions in galleries and museums in Norway and abroad. She has created several commissioned works of public art, selected examples being for Asker Culture Centre, Lillestrøm city centre, Halden Prison, Mesterfjellet School and Bodø Secondary School. Along with her own artistic practice, Nordli teaches ceramics at Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Irene Nordli: Rotfylling (Root Canal) installed in the interior of Henry van de Velde at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum

New Debutant Prize
This year for the first time, the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts has awarded the Debutant Prize. Its winner is Ahmed Umar(b. 1988), for the work Hijab (Annual Protection). The jury, which consisted of textile artist Edith Lundebrekke, jewellery artist Reinhold Ziegler, ceramic artist Anne Thomassen and museum representative Steffen Wesselvold Holden, explained their choice:

‘This year’s winning work has, first of all, fantastically rich detail that invites close study. Its forms and variations reveal the artist’s skill (…) In Norway today, we often talk about head-covering and suppression when mentioning the hijab. This work adds a dimension to our reflection and understanding, not only of the hijab tradition, but also of the universal human need to take care of ourselves and be taken care of as we enter a new time and place.’

The prize, which consists of 25,000 NOK, is to be awarded to ‘an artist who has not previously participated in the annual craft exhibition, on account of producing the debut work which the jury thinks has the strongest artistic quality and contemporary relevance’.

Ahmed Umar works in a cross-disciplinary way. He studied at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, graduating in 2016 with a master’s degree in art and craft (ceramics section). Umar came to Norway in 2008 as a political refugee. His artistic practice is strongly influenced by his childhood and experiences of living in a society structured around religion. Through sculpture, printing, painting, jewellery and performance, he constructs a narrative around his life history.

Ahmed Umar: Hijab (Annual Protection)

The public participate in the art
Trondheim Municipality and the organizers for Craft 2017 have collaborated in order to present art projects outdoors, at the central square ‘Ravnkloa’.

In the mobile glassblowing workshop of Maria Almås Frantzsen and Ruth Hol Mjanger, the public can blow fragile, sculptural ‘imprints’ of different ways of exhaling into glass. Through breathing, we participate in a largely invisible way with the wider community. How do we experience our surroundings, ourselves and each other when we hold the shape of our breath in our hands?

Svein Ove Kirkhorn invites the public to participate in a surprisingly visual gathering in his performance Picnic. By participating, people can explore the social space that arises when they all dress up in fabric similar to the tablecloth on which they sit. Participants eat together, converse, look at each other and are looked at by passers-by.

‘These works, in a playful and exciting way, show that craft can concern and engage us all’, says Marit Lønning Reiten. The participants and the public accept being photographed and allow the pictures and video to be used publicly.

Textile work by Ellen Grieg

Art interacts with room interiors
The main exhibition is at Nordenfjeldske kunstindustrimuseum in Trondheim. Those who visit the museum from 14 October to 3 December will see, among other things, how contemporary art has ‘overtaken’ the museum’s famous historical office interiors designed by Finn Juhl and Henry van de Velde.

‘When art intervenes in the historical setting, new and exciting situations arise, and we hope these give the public a unique experience’, says the museum’s project leader Steffen Wesselvold Holden.

‘By opening up for works that relate to the museum and outdoor public space, this year’s exhibition can reflect several more forms of expression in today’s craft in addition to the ever-relevant sculptural objects, functional objects, textiles and installations that characterize the field of craft and the traditional exhibition’, concludes Marit Lønning Reiten.

Participating artists:
Admir Batlak, Ahmed Umar, Andre Normann, Anne Léger, Astrid Sleire, Camilla Luihn, Dorthe Herup, Elin Melberg, Elisa Helland-Hansen, Ellen Grieg, Emil Gustafsson, Eric M. Kelly, Erlend Leirdal, Frantzsen&Mjanger, Harriet Normann, Heidi Bjørgan, Ida Disen, Ingeborg Elieson, Ingrid Becker, Irene Nordli, Jim Darbu, Kari Mølstad, Kiyoshi Yamamoto, Klara Pousette, Kristin Opem, Kristine Fornes, Liilian Saksi, Lillan Eliassen, Lillian Tørlen, Line Solberg Dolmen, Linnéa Blakéus Calder, Marianne Tjønn, Matilde Westavik Gaustad, Moa Håkansson, Morten Allan Egstad, Nanna Melland, Nils Martin, Nina Malterud, Ronja Elvenes, Sigurd Bronger, Sofia Karyofilis,  Svein Ove Kirkhorn, Toril Redalen, Trine Hovden, Trude Johansen, Trude Westby Nordmark, Åse Ljones

Edith Lundebrekke, jury leader, tekstile/wood
Anne Thomassen, ceramics
Reinhold Ziegler, metall/jewellery art
Steffen Wesselvold Holden, museum representative

The exhibition will be on show through 3 December 2017

More information here