23 Jan 2017
Talking to ceramic sculptures
Lene Baadsvig Ørmen’s ceramic sculptures took over HIAP’s Gallery Augusta for the month of December in an exhibition titled Soliloquy. The ceramic process was something Lene acquainted herself with at HIAP’s studios in Suomenlinna. The firing of the clay took place at Pot Viapori, a ceramic workshop next door to her studio on the island.
She came to Helsinki with a clear idea that she wanted to experiment with a new material, even though she was not quite sure where the process would take her. The name of the exhibition, Soliloquy, refers to a person talking aloud to herself, with or without an audience. In some ways, Lene spent her time in Suomenlinna talking to and through her sculptures. It is perhaps not surprising that many of the sculptures ended up a lot more figurative than her previous work.
In a month and a half, she created an entire exhibition’s worth of sculptures that portray her solitude, her mistakes, her perseverance, and longing for some kind of spiritual presence. Her extremely concentrated working period was an exercise on handling mental pressure by filtering her mind through the clay that she learned to handle.
In Lene’s own words:
TA: What were your original ideas regarding your work when you first arrived on the island of Suomenlinna?
LBØ: My preparations before arriving the island consisted of sketches and keywords. I normally do this in the beginning of a process, essentially to gain focus and create a starting point. The works always take a different direction when I have my hands on the material. This time I quickly dropped most of my sketches when I saw the gallery space in situ, mainly because the walls in the space are curved. Due to the time limit and technical issues with the firing process I was compelled to work in small scale with the clay. This was a challenge considering the size of the space. I had in mind from the beginning that I wanted to work with ceramic pieces, and concrete sculptures with sand surfaces. I decided to combine some of the small ceramic pieces and create individual assemblages with them, and than incorporate larger concrete sculptures in the installation.
TA: Were there any surprises? Did anything turn out completely different to what you expected?
LBØ: Everything turned out completely different than what I was imagining on the plane to Helsinki. I guess this happened because I had to toss my sketches, but also because I did not have much time to stop and reflect in the making. I decided to leave that part out of the process and deal with it in the end. I had to trust my instinct and just let things appear in order to manage to create. For instance, I was kind of weirded out when Goofy appeared, wondering where he came from! But then I just went with it and the figurines in Status Delirious came one after the other. This approach I applied in the face of installing as well.
TA: Did any parts of the idea come from the specific place of Suomenlinna?
LBØ: I guess the fact that the island was so quiet and dark after sunset influenced the main title of the exhibition. I could see the sky quite clearly since there is not much noise from city light. Whenever I am reminded of the immense and infinite universe I freak out and feel safe at the same time. This feeling I relate to the state of solitude.
TA: Did you learn anything about yourself through the process?
LBØ: I got more in contact with a subconscious level of working, to neglect my upper thoughts- or how to put it- to force my self to be better at trusting my instincts when working.
TA: Where do you go from here? Are there any ideas from Soliloquy that you wish to develop further?
LBØ: I don’t know yet about specific ideas, but I will definitely work more with ceramics. I aim to create my artwork in dialogue with the material instead of executing an explicit plan or idea. I tend to repeat ideas or forms again and again with different outputs, and consider all my work to be an enduring line of intentions. I guess I relate more to eastern ideas of time perception were my works are continuously circling around each other, instead of in a straight line.