Brusand: Day 5

Åpening av "Brief Encounter" billedkunst utstilling: Spend the morning making final adjustments and getting great pleasure out of washing the gallery windows! The landscape suddenly looks considerably more vibrant.
The bad news is that there are engineering works on the train line and a portion of the service from Stravanger is replaced with a bus. It’s just one of those unforeseeable things.

At 14.00 on the dot Jens and Karen arrive, followed by another ceramicist – one who they used to share a studio with. Along with other artists and families out enjoying the great weather, two members of train staff come to see the show. The man is very intrigued and seems to enjoy it, the woman admits to having more traditional tastes.
The children who come really engage with the trains and are happy to sit watching and waiting for when the trains nearly meet. The technology is very simple and the controller unit is not terribly sophisticated, this means that it’s virtually impossible to get the trains to run at the same speed. There’s something unexpectedly pleasing about the trains not running at identical speeds – it makes their occasional ‘brief encounters’ seem more significant. Visitors watch and wait for the trains to pass side by side – some made predictions about when this would happen, there were even a few cheers of “hurrah” when they did!

The afternoon was very enjoyable, it was good to meet other artists and makers. I had long and interesting conversations with two English men who had moved to Norway (one 25 years ago, the twelve).

I want to finish by saying thank you to Liz Croft and Jan Kjetil Bjorheim at Nordisk Kunst Plattform. It was a real pleasure to work with them, and I wish them every success with the project – I look forward to seeing how it develops (they have so many ideas!).

Brief Encounter is both site specific and personal – for me it feels like an important work. Something has shifted. I want to develop work that while embodying personal and social content manages to catch me out and operate as an art work – something that I can’t simple explain, or possibly even fully understand ….


It feels odd to be making these last posts about the opening on the day after the show closed.
Since I came back I’ve had so much to do with that unfortunately my blogging has got very behind.
Here at last are my final Brusand entries:

Brusand Day 4
Went to Stavanger with Liz and Kjetil. We make a brief visit to an artist’s gallery and project that are having a picnic/barbeque lunch before going to Stavanger Kunstforening to see Pieces Of Energy. The exhibition is a selction of contemporary work from the Statoil collection. The exhibition was only a fraction of their collection and had some very impressive paintings along with photography, sculpture and a video. Matthew Collins had given a talk at the opening. The catalogue is a weighty hardback affair with extended interviews with a couple of artists. One artist’s day is described – it sounded perfect, just the kind of day I aspire to: up early, coffee and breakfast in a café, morning working in the studio, lunch, afternoon in the studio, a run, home for dinner, reading and the radio, bed – what I loved were all the little details, the kind of paper he wraps his sandwich in, the way he describes his running shoes.

Evening – complete the edition of four embroidered rings on handmade rice paper.


Brusand, Day 3
Edition: After breakfast Kjetil and I head off to Bryne to get materials for my edition – a version of the baby blue embroidered ring on paper. We take some posters and fliers with us. Kjetil points out the old mill building that he would to see turned in to an arts centre. We call into a fashionable coffee shop to drop off fliers, the manager recognises me from the paper! She asks for a poster as her husband is from Brusand.

The shops in Bryne don’t have stock suitable paper though we buy some ‘emergency’ mounting card just in case we can’t get anything better.

Back in the car Kjetil suggests we might be more successful in Sandnes – a 20 minute drive away. Before we head off we stop at the new studio of the areas best contemporary ceramic artists. From the outside the building looks great – a large double height modern studio/workshop block with an adjacent single storey gallery. Inside it’s just as good, as soon as we enter and I see the man on the phone I recognise him – it’s Jens who I met through the Golden Rain project. We shake hands and say a very friendly hello. It’s really good to see him again. He’s very proud of the new studio where he and his partner Karen have only just settled in, Kjetil and I get a tour. The story of the kiln is brilliant. Jens called a specialist company to come an assess moving the kiln from his old workshop, he man turned up took one look at the old kiln, grunted and walked off. The man gave Jens no indication whether the job was possible or not. A few days later another man turned up and did much the same. Days after that Jens get a phone call telling him to dig out an area of the concrete floor in new studio – the job is on! 10 tonnes of kiln are carved out of the old studio put on a truck and delivered at exactly the time they said it would be. The removal team said they wished every job was a simple as that. There’s a diagonal scar across the chimneystack – it’s where the stack used to go through a roof. All of the old brick chimney is now inside the studio and an modern extension reaches up to the ceiling.

In Sandnes Kjetil has a long conversation with a very knowledgeable woman in the frame studio and we leave with supplies of paper and mount board. I get embroidery thread, needles and a thimble and we head back to Brusand. At the petrol station Kjetil picks up two copies of Jaer Bladet (the regions newspaper). There I am on page 11!

The evening is spent making the edition – it’s the first time I’ve used rice paper, it’s good to work with and I like the way it looks.


Let me be blunt; I want a simple life.
Episode 2

I want to spend three or six months in Stockholm next year. My local adult education college runs a couple of beginner’s Swedish evening classes. I signed up for the Thursday class as I finish work at 3.00pm that day and can get to the college for the 5.30pm start. Tonight was the first class and I really enjoyed it. Seven of us learned to introduce ourselves, say where we are from and which languages we speak. We went through some very basic grammar and Swedish alphabet. At the end of the class Tina (the teacher) explained that because the class size doesn’t meet the college’s minimum of eight it’s likely that the class will be cancelled. If the class is cancelled we will be offered the options of: moving to the Monday beginner’s class, registering for the next beginner’s class – Summer 2009, or join the beginner’s class (level 2) which is later on Thursday evening. I can’t swap to Monday unless I know that I have the fixed term contract (mentioned above) and give up two days of my current job – which it looks like I won’t have by next week. I don’t want to wait until the 2009 summer term – I wanted to have three terms of Swedish under my belt before heading out there next June.
I can’t really believe that I’m even considering throwing myself into level 2 albeit beginner’s level 2. I haven’t attempted to learn a language in 26 years (and that attempt was ‘unsuccessful’.) but it seems like I have little choice other than to take on level 2. After all level 2 beginner's has got to be better than arriving in Stockholm without a word. Hasn't it?

I want a simple life. How can three relatively simple things have become so complicated?
Why have they all happened this week?
If it is a sign – what is it signaling?


Let me be blunt; I want a simple life.
Episode 1

Almost everything that has happened this week seems designed to make my life complicated. Not simply complicated but complicatedly complicated! The new part-time job has become complicated because the post needs to be advertised and I need to go through a selection process, in the meantime they may be able to offer me a casual contract to start the job, however there is no guarantee that I will get the fixed term contract (even if I accept the temporary casual contract). This would be simply complicated if I didn’t have to give up one of my current permanent part-time jobs in order to work the days the potential new employer want me to do under the casual contract.

We have been very fortunate with our studio, we have very loose arrangements with our landlord and while we all pay our rent they pretty much leave us alone. That was until they converted the previously industrial building in front of ours in to flats. Of courses they had to be re-assessed by the Valuation Agency Office for domestic ratings (though I Council Tax had replaced rates). During that re-assessment the VAO noticed our building and realised that it wasn’t registered for non-domestic rates. Seven artists occupy the top floor, some share spaces, some have locked doors but have access to other studios to use the lift, kitchen and toilet. Due to this the whole floor is rated as one premises (rather than five distinct individual premises). On Monday I received a non-domestic (ie. business) rates demand for £1940.40 for the current financial year. The demand was addressed to me at my home address. I called Lambeth and asked if this was a personal bill or for the whole floor, it was explained that it was actually an old calculation based on a previous rating and that a new rating would be issued within a month. The new bill would be for the whole floor (approximately) twice the old bill and would be sent to “whoever is the lease holder”. I explained that there we five leaseholders (though we don’t actually have leases). The woman at the council said that as the floor is rated as one business premises there can only be one leaseholder (or head-leaseholder) and the bill will be sent to them. She couldn’t confirm who that was but as they had my name already it could be addressed to me. I am not leaseholder, head-leaseholder and certainly not prepared to take on the rates bill for whole studio! This is complicatedly complicated.