Once a month, ART + FOLK will itroduce someone from our local art community. They will open up the doors to their home or to their studio and tell us a bit of their every day, their work and what they have on their own walls.
Interview and (approximate) English translation by Daniela Ramos Arias Photos by: Tove Lise Mossestad. This project is supported by the City of Bergen (Bergen Kommune).
Home visit to Linda & Vegard
Linda Soh Trengereid and Vegard Vindenes are both visual artists living and working in Bergen. They both have their studio at BLOKK and live in a lovely apartment in sunny Landås, Bergen. They have renovated every bit of their place with their own two hands and the help of family members, so you can see that there has been a big labour of love, making this place their own. They have an impressive art collection that we needed to take a look at. Welcome!
A+F: ART + FOLK L: Linda V: Vegard
A+F: Tell me a little bit about yourselves. When did you both decide to become an artists?
L: I grew up in Sotra, an island on the outskirts of Bergen. There aren’t any artists in my family but I’ve always been encouraged and supported to follow my interests, that is why after High School, I applied to Kunstkolen i Bergen (KiB), a two year program in arts.
These years were quite magical. There were so many changes that happened in the way I thought about art and how to work with it. I still have the voices of some of our teachers in the back of my head when I work.
For me, these two years at Kunstkolen i Bergen, were challenging, lots of hard work with long days. But there was also development, curiosity, fellowship and friendship. This is where Vegard and I met, and many of our classmates became very good friends and now, colleagues.
I don’t think I ever thought I would become an artist when I applied to KiB, but during the second year, I decided to apply to Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen, where I did a BA, and later on a MA in Visual Arts.
V: I grew up in Geilo and moved here to Bergen when I started at Kunstskolen i Bergen in 2004. After KiB, I continued at Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen (KHiB) in the same class as Linda all the way. Now, we are also neighbors at our artist collective BLOKK.
I come from a creative family, and that has a lot to say for the path I chose to take, but there are no artists besides me. At some point during my time in art school I decided to go on to the Art Academy. I think that this had a lot to do with the inspiring environment at KiB and the good teachers that managed to create a lasting interest in art.
A+F: Linda, You are a very active member of the artist community, you are part of the core group the started the studio collective BLOKK and you run B-open, which has become a huge event in Bergen, connected to other cities and countries now. Tell me what it’s like to be an artist in Bergen.
L: I Have always been the kind of person who likes to do many things at once. I really like to work with my own things at the studio, but since my studies, I have also been involved in arranging and organising other art related events. When I was offered to be the project leader for B-open, at that time, a 25% position, I thought It would be a nice challenge to take on.
Working for the artist-collective BLOKK includes different tasks, from staying in contact with the landlord and being the janitor to curating exhibitions and writing applications. Luckily, we are four people who volunteer to run this place, and many of us where here from the start 5 years ago. All of us have a studio here together with 10 other artists.
I think many artists in Bergen are a little bit like me, wearing many hats and playing different roles in organisations tied to the art community, mostly volunteering. We like to say that we are very good at collaborating in Bergen, that we are good at making things happen and lift each other up, and the reason for that is because it is true.
A+F: Linda, Vegard; many people wonder about this. How do artists manage day to day? How would you describe your daily life?
L: I can say that it is a lot of hard work with long days and long evenings. If anyone still believes in the myth of the glamorous life as an artist, with easy money pouring in, and thoughtless scribbles rolling out of the studio, then they have a big misconception. That being said, I have chosen this career myself and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I love the fact that it is possible for me to work with what I love.
Most of us have an extra job, what we call: “money job”. It took me a little while to realize that it is not everyone who is familiar with this term. For us, it is very normal. For those who are not familiar with what this means, I can shortly explain that since artists usually do not earn enough to live of their work, and there are bills to pay, rent, food, studio space, etc, we need to find other jobs to be able to pay for all of these things. How much people work these jobs besides their art practice depends on each artist’s needs. It’s a puzzle that takes time to put into place. I, for example, (besides my work as an artist, or better said, so that I can afford to be an artist) work with B-open, BLOKK, sometimes I teach and I work a bit in a clothing store. Some years, we are lucky enough to get a stipend which allows us to reduce our “money job” hours, some years we manage to sell something, or get a commission. It’s impossible to predict. I never thought I’d get used to this. In it’s own way, the unpredictable becomes predictable over time.
V: Yes, working days can be unpredictable. There are periods right before an exhibition when there will be late nights at the studio to get everything ready. Other slower periods are used to earn money with our money jobs, to give our economy a push. I work for example as a technician at Bergen Kunsthall.
Artwork on the last image: Gro Lygre Petersen
A+F: You both recently moved into this apartment and renovated it yourselves. Can you tell me a bit about the process and what you were looking for?
L & V: We had actually been looking for an apartment in this area for a while. It was important for us to be close to nature, the city and to have a garden. Already on the first viewing of this place we knew we would feel at home. It felt right. Luckily enough, we got it!
It was a huge renovation project, the place had uneffective room solutions and it hadn’t been looked after. But it was actually what we were looking for, a place that we could transform ourselves. We got a lot of help from our family and we used every single free minute we had available to fix the place up. We tore down walls, moved rooms around to built new walls again.
A+F: You have an impressive art collection at home. What do you look for when you buy art? What’s important?
L & V: A lot of the art we have in the apartment has been an exchange with friends and colleagues. It’s a bit of a game of chance when it comes to who and when, but when it comes to such an exchange, it mostly goes on common interest in each other’s work.
It’s not very often that we consider buying art, but when we do, there are a few things we think about, and sometimes it can be different things that interest each of us. It’s difficult to point exactly to what we want but that feeling in your gut plays a big role, as well as the price tag.
What we have on our walls, is art that we want to look at every day.
A+F: Linda, Vegard; what are you working on at the moment?
L: My next project will be a solo exhibition at Kunstgarasjen in Bergen, that opens on the 27th of October. After that, I will be a part of a group show at Langegården Gallery early next year. And after that, an exhibition together with Vegard at BOA Gallery, as Vegard mentioned.
A+F: Can you tell us a bit about your work?
V: I work mostly with painting, and for a long time, I’ve been working on a series called “Front”. The motives in the series can be seen as still life of constructed elements. The image space is both a staged environment of objects and an arena for colors, composition and abstraction.
(Use arrows to pass the images on the gallery)
The paintings originate in photographs of buildings, sculptures, and constructions, and I use miniature models of cardboard and paper as a way to aid the process.
In the project I make variations of figures built from the same geometric shapes. Some variations become chaotic patterns and structures, while others express order.
When the paintings are put together, they become a peephole into a process where the motif undergoes continuous change.
L: I am mostly working with painting and drawing. I usually work on series with a common theme or starting point. I work on the motifs with different techniques in different layers.
(Use arrows to pass the images on the gallery)
At the moment, I am working on a series of paintings and drawings that take a starting point in photographies taken in highly populated cities in the world, and different old-growth and rain-forests.
I’m interested in experimenting with motifs, techniques and materials, letting the lead from the pencil and paint become part of the surface, and the visual expressions that comes from this.
With this as a starting point, I look for the abstract among the figurative. The so-called close-up is perceived as a series of interrelated forms becoming clear motifs at a distance. The work can also be seen as a form of documentation of something perishable, a portrait of people and nature in constant change and symbiosis.
A+F: And lastly, what would you recommend people looking to buy art?
L: Go to many exhibitions, visit artists studios when possible, for example during B-open, in Bergen. Use websites such as this one, or kunstguide.no. Also, most of the artists have their own website these days that you can look at.
Thank you so much Linda and Vegard for opening your doors to ART + FOLK and for your generosity giving us a peek into your lives at home and at work. Best of luck!