Hege Henriksen Appointed Director of Norwegian Crafts
1 June 2016, Hege Henriksen (36) took up the post as director of Norwegian Crafts. The organisation that works to promote Norwegian crafts internationally has distinguished itself strongly in recent years, most recently as one of the driving forces behind the exhibition Structure, which presented contemporary craft and design at the prestigious design fair in Milan in April.
«As director, I want to build on the already-established alliances and link up with new collaborative partners, particularly with respect to exhibition venues and educational institutions at home and abroad.»Hege Henriksen, Director of Norwegian Crafts
Henriksen has been the project leader at Norwegian Crafts since 2012 and has (among other things) been responsible for organising the aforementioned Structure exhibition and magic language /// game of whispers, a Nordic collaborative exhibition with five curators and 25 craft artists, which was shown at the craft fair Revelations in Paris in September 2015. Through her position at Norwegian Crafts, Henriksen has worked strategically to strengthen craft artists’ participation at international fairs and to develop significant projects enabling craft artists and designers to work together.
Henriksen is now ready to take over the reins, after Norwegian Crafts’ former director, Trude G. Ugelstad, became director of the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (DOGA).
‘During Trude’s tenure’, says Henriksen, ‘Norwegian Crafts established itself as a clear mediator of Norwegian craft internationally, through exhibitions, participation in art fairs, seminars and publications. We have focused particularly on London, Paris, Munich and Milan, but also see the possibility of establishing ourselves more in the USA and Asia. We were recently in the USA to visit relevant institutions such as the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Ferrin Contemporary and the Clay Studio, also using the occasion to organise a VIP-event in New York during the Collective Design Fair. Through pooling efforts with Galleri Format Oslo, the Norwegian consulate in New York and the American internet magazine Art Jewelry Forum, we established new contacts with people and organisations we hope to work with next year.’
«As a small but competent cultural actor, we have learned to collaborate with relevant organisations and businesses, and this has produced good results for many projects.»Hege Henriksen, Director of Norwegian Crafts
Henriksen, who not only trained as a designer in Australia but also studied project leadership at the Norwegian Business School BI, looks forward to following up the new contacts in the USA and to planning next year’s activities for the organisation. In a few years’ time, in 2019, Norway will be the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the Frankfurt Book Fair, an occasion that offers an opportunity to promote Norwegian craft.
‘We have a multifaceted and ambitious programme and are especially excited that Norway can promote itself in Frankfurt’, says the new director.
There’s no shortage of opportunities for helping craft artists make international breakthroughs; the challenge is to choose which good projects to focus on. To get the most out of the projects Norwegian Crafts is involved in, Henriksen has developed good partnerships with cultural organisations, financial actors and others who have coinciding interests.
In Milan, their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway received a preview of the exhibition Structure during their state visit to Italy. The exhibition received extensive coverage in leading international magazines and websites such as Wallpaper, Dezeen and the New York Times. Here at home, Aftenposten and Dagens Næringsliv’s magazine D2 described Structure as an exhibition that truly puts Norwegian craft and design on the map. It would have been impossible to create an exhibition of such high quality and distinction without Norwegian Crafts allying itself with relevant institutions and private individuals.
Henriksen describes the organisation: ‘Norwegian Crafts is a small but effective organisation that gets a lot done despite having few staff members. As a small but competent cultural actor, we have learned to collaborate with relevant organisations and businesses, and this has produced good results for many projects. We worked, for instance, with Klubben, Jotun and DOGA in Milan, and had such financial partners as Bo Bedre, Oslo Design Fair and Lundhs. As director, I want to build on the already-established alliances and link up with new collaborative partners, particularly with respect to exhibition venues and educational institutions at home and abroad.’
«The development of theory through seminars and publications has been important since Norwegian Crafts’ founding. In the last few years we see that this bears fruit in international craft discourse.»Hege Henriksen, Director of Norwegian Crafts
Another example of good collaboration is Norwegian Crafts’ annual international seminar, which it organises in cooperation with the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts (Norske Kunsthåndverkere, NK) and a museum or gallery. In April 2016, the seminar The Importance of Making took place at Galleri F 15 in Moss. The seminar was organised through cooperation with NK and the gallery Punkt Ø and coincided with the exhibition Tendencies 2016: Grand Old Ladies and New Kids on the Block.
The seminars are often also linked to Norwegian Crafts’ expanding book series Documents on Contemporary Crafts, which is well-received in the international professional field of craft.
‘The development of theory through seminars and publications has been important since Norwegian Crafts’ founding’, explains Henriksen, and continues: ‘In the last few years we see that this bears fruit in international craft discourse. This is important in the sense that Norwegian Crafts should help set the agenda for the international, professional conversation on contemporary craft. Furthermore, it gives us an opportunity to invite international professionals to Norway in connection with the annual seminar. International curators and critics then have the opportunity to visit a selection of Norwegian craft artists and experience exhibitions of Norwegian craft while they are here. In this way, we establish important contacts with international institutions, and these often lead to exhibition possibilities for Norwegian craft artists at important international institutions’, explains Henriksen, who hopes to organise a new seminar on collecting fine craft as early as this fall.
About Hege Henriksen
Hege Henriksen has led market development at Norwegian Crafts. She has been responsible for several large exhibition projects, among others, Structure (Milan, 2016), magic language /// game of whispers (Paris, 2015), Norway Designs Nå, vol 1 and 2 (Oslo, 2014 and 2015), Norwegian Presence (Milan, 2015) and Aftermath of Art Jewellery (Oslo and Munich, 2013).
About Norwegian Crafts
• Norwegian Crafts works to strengthen the position of Norwegian craft-based art and design internationally.
• The organisation initiates and produces exhibitions, participation in craft fairs, seminars and publications. It also contributes to developing artists’ competencies with a view towards sustainable careers, and to building networks through programmes for artist residencies and visitor programmes.
• Norwegian Crafts was established in 2012 as a daughter organisation to the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts, and it has its own board of directors.