Studio Visit: Trykkeriet

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Interview and photos Nora Adwan

Q+A with Asbjørn Hollerud, Co-founder of Trykkeriet, Center for Contemporary Printmaking

AH: Asbjørn Hollerud A+F: Art+Folk

A+F visited Trykkeriet, a center for contemporary printmaking in Bergen, to chat with co-founder Asbjørn Hollerud. The studios are a resource for professional artists and designers,  as well as offering courses for school groups. During the interview there are artists working on their projects and artists preparing for the next round of school children who are coming in to try their hands at printing techniques. This was also an opportunity to take a look at the exhibition by Ciara Phillips in Trykkeriet´s newly refurbished exhibition space.

A+F: Can you say a little about Trykkeriet and how you got started?

 AH: Originally Trykkeriet was set up by me and Jan Petterson. I graduated as an MA student at the same time that he finished teaching at KHiB. It took us a year of planning; we started planning in 2008, and in June 2009 after 6 months of searching we found this place. We then spent a year fixing the place up, tearing down walls, getting equipment in and fixing things. So that was a lot of work! We were quite exhausted by the time we opened the place.

 About half a year after we opened, Jan got a position in the art school in Oslo, so he is still with us, but not full-time. It is mostly Daniel Persson and I who have been running it all these years. We also have support from other people. For example, David Stordahl,  an American, is here two months every spring and two months every fall to work on productions, normally with our invited artists in residence. He lives in Helsinki the rest of the time.

 We also have Hedvig Thorkildsen and Dino Dikic  who mostly help us teach our program of printing technique courses.

 My job is answering emails and making sure we have the money we need for projects, writing applications and things like that. I´m in the office for the most part, but I also do some kids courses. Daniel is in charge of the workshop, making sure we have everything we need and that everything is working as well as helping out the invited artists and our customers. Rita Marhaug is our board leader. So, we are a few people here and my hope is that in the future we will involve even more people. There are so many possibilities and so much to think about.

A+F: Why did you choose to establish yourselves in Bergen rather than move away to Oslo for example?

 AH: In my case I was surprised to find that there wasn´t already a print shop in Bergen. I moved here from Kristiansand. You could of course rent a studio with other artists and share a press, but very few artists were doing printmaking at the time. Which I guess makes sense as the resources weren´t there for that and it´s not easy to set up your own press.

 I was planning to move back to Kristiansand and to keep running a print shop there with a friend of mine, but unfortunately he passed away while I was doing my exams here. After that I had no reason to got back. I thought about it for some time and then decided to speak to Jan. He is very knowledgeable about printmaking and how to structure a print shop and he´s a very ambitious guy, so he was central to making this happen and making it much better than what I originally had in mind.

 We can do almost everything here except lithography. We don´t have anything against it, but every technique takes up a lot of space and no one involved in Trykkeriet is that into lithography so we decided not to include it.

Anna Christina Lorenzen and Rita Marhaug working on the production for Anna´s project entitled "An Uncut Line". Images courtesy of Trykkeriet.

A+F: Trykkeriet seems to be supporting and promoting art production here for both professional artists, art enthusiasts and young people, can you tell me about that?

 AH: Everyone is welcome here, from kids who want to print on t-shirts to really professional artists. Most people who work with us are not professional printmakers so they come here and we brainstorm together and work out how to approach their project. This is the best part of our work. We have a huge rotation of people here which is really fun, we meet all kinds of people. Anyone can sign up for our courses or get in touch with us to ask for something, either through the website or through our Facebook page.

 With the kids, in most cases, we start the course by going to the school and showing them how the technique works and how to think about ideas in terms of the visual projects that we give them. They come to us a week or two later to do the printing. Usually we do the dry point technique. We have had some courses where they scratch into copper plates and we also do a course called tracing where you hold a piece of plexiglass up to your face and your classmate traces your face onto it. Then they will scratch into the plexi and come here and print it. We will make a book of all the faces at a later date and an exhibition.

Archive image, courtesy of Trykkeriet.

We want to have the kids see how artists work in a workshop. I think it´s rare for kids to see any kind of production these days as most industry is abroad now or computer based. Here they have to use their hands, everything is analogue and they also get to see exhibitions.

 We also like to support the local scene by inviting local artists and not just international artists. I can definitely say there are a lot more artists working with printmaking now than when we started out. I feel we are effecting the art scene in Bergen various ways.

Digging through the archives, left to right:

  1. Azar Alsharif

  2. Rita Marhaug

  3. Ben Cain

  4. Cato Løland

  5. Håkon Holm-Olsen

A+F: I think it´s great that you also bring in international artists, as everyone is working together here it creates a possibility for dialogue and they become a resource for the local artists.

 AH: Yes, when Ciara Phillips was here we did a silkscreen and stencils workshop with her and Hedvig and some local designers. It was a lot of fun!

A+F: I understand you collect artworks from your resident artists, tell me a bit about the artworks you have? Do you have plans to exhibit them in the future?

 AH: We try to split it 60/40, so the artist keeps 60% of what they do here and we keep about 40%. We do this for several reasons; to build our own collection, as an art collection and as an archive to show how printmaking can be used in different ways within the contemporary scene. The other reason is that we try to sell some of these works to support future productions so we can have bigger production budgets. At the moment the budgets don´t cover all of the actual production and exhibition costs, so we end up working a lot for free a lot which is pretty common in the art scene, but definitely not ideal.

Images from daily life at Trykkeriet. Hedvig preparing for the next courses and artists working on their projects.

A+F: You currently have an exhibition here by your artist in residence. How did you come to work with Ciara Phillips?  

 AH: The first time I heard about Ciara was in 2013 when we had another British artist here called Ben Cain. I asked him who he thought we should invite from abroad and he immediately mentioned Ciara Phillips. At the time, I think he had recently seen the exhibition Ciara did at the Show Room in London. She then got the Turner nomination and her career really took off and the year after she was exhibiting at Bergen Kunsthall, so they scooped me in a way. Two or three years ago she did a talk at KHiB, so I invited her over to meet everyone for a dinner. After she saw the workshop and we spoke about Trykkeriet, I asked her if she would be up for doing a project here. She said, yes but we had to wait two years for her to have a break in her schedule.

 Watching her work here for five weeks was very inspiring for all of us. She made the work for two exhibitions in five weeks. Some of it she printed herself, but she also had assistance from David and Daniel. Things of course go much faster when you have a team of people, but at the same time you need to know what you are doing to be able to pull it off. It´s quite amazing.

 A+F: You are an artist yourself, how much do you manage to work here on your artwork?

 AH: I tend to be too busy with this place and some other projects. I intend to do more of my own art but it has to be in the evenings and at the weekend as I work more than fulltime here.

 A+F: What are you working on at the moment? What projects and exhibitions do you have coming up at Trykkeriet?

 AH: The next couple of weeks we are doing kids workshops and then we are going to work with Mattias Härenstam which is exciting. He is also a very established artist and also generous and fun to be around.

 A+F: Does he normally do printmaking?

 AH: He does woodcuts sometimes, he is more famous for his sculptures and installations, also video works. But he has some amazing black and white woodcuts. We will have an exhibition that we will produce at Ubåt Press which is my side project with Dino. The plates are A3 size so we can print them on the old letterpress presses which will be interesting.

Images from the current exhibition: 14. sept – 30.sept: DOG COMES IN, CAT GOES OUT / Ciara Phillips

Dog Comes In, Cat Goes Out is an exhibition in two parts that takes place at Tag Team Studio and Trykkeriet, Bergen. All the work in the exhibition has been produced at Trykkeriet, during Phillips´production residency in August and September 2018

Thanks so much for your time!

Once a month, ART + FOLK will introduce someone from our local art community.  We will open  the doors to their home or to their studio and have them tell us a bit about their everyday, their work and what they have on their own walls.

Interview by Nora Adwan. 

This project is supported by the City of Bergen (Bergen Kommune) and Arts Council Norway (Norsk Kulturrådet).

Nora Adwan