Posts with tag Other Art

The Legacy of Mourning

Venu Dhupa, Jane Wildgoose and the Memorial Library

Jane Wildgoose’s home is to the brim filled with collected things of different sorts. A horse cranium is placed on a shelf together with Indian statuettes, a prisma of glass, medical pots and a small replica of the coffin of Lord Nelson. Over it all, a stuffed raven enthrones together with a crocodile. All rooms in her typical English terraced house groan with memories.

”I have been thinking a lot about the history of mourning and in which way things can create support and comfort. Twenty years ago people didn’t want to speak about this, but now lots of people come here, some in mourning clothes.”

She started building her Mourning Library eight years ago, the collection is still growing. Starting point was that she wanted to use hair in her Artistic work, and she discovered how many memories the human material was carrying. Memory and death have since been her main theme. It’s very Victorian, which gives an extra dimension: The societal idea about death and sorrow that is now lost.

Jane Wildgoose has, Venu Dhupa says, in a very conscious way showed the power of pedagogic; on how you can work with existential issues with a planned working method. That’s why she five years ago could convince National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to put in project support in the Wildgoose Memorial Library. This is a difficult issue, Venu Dhupa says:

”You always need to create a structure, but it doesn’t have to be a scientific one. It might as well be a structure that is created as you go, by following your heart. We are not aiming for the results, but what is happening during the process.”

img_0074The Wildgoose Memorial Library was the start to continue the reflection of how you create creative environments that can handle risk and uncertainty. That is why Venu Dhupa, on the assignment of British Council, created a competence development course on issues like how you deal with risk and create an environment that can handle uncertainty. How do you deal with risk in a responsible way? How do you adjust to different – sometimes extremely difficult – circumstances?

”It is now, today, we are creating the inhabitants of tomorrow. And in the contemporary society you have to be able to deal with a duality, and not rarely also sorrow and sentimentality, and still, in the 21st century these are taboo issues in society.”

The secret, Venu Dhupa continues, behind creating a creative working climate and creative leadership is called ”mixed groups”. The people in India know this best! Why is someone in London telling what is best in China?

”I am working with small teams all around the world and send their results back home. In that way we have created a real global working method. I am working with six different groups in six countries. Each group consists of a large amount of different nationalities. I say it again: Think outside the box!”

After working with multicultural issues for over ten years, Venu Dhupa has a clear picture of what is needed to do to: From a bottom-up perspective achieve a heterogenic society that consists of many voices.

”We treat the ethnical groups like consumers, not like creators. The measurement is consumption! But what happens if we are serious with everyone’s possibility to create on equal terms?”

We don’t give our politicians time enough to reflect on these issues, she says, and therefore we get the response from politicians that we deserve.

”We don’t get intelligent answers from our political sausage machine! George Bush (who was) the busiest man of the world played golf 95 days out of his first year as president!”

The text is written by Ylva Gustafsson, secretary at Region Västra Götaland. The visit in London on March 3–6, 2009, was part of a study visit by politicians and civil servants from Region Västra Götaland. Nätverkstan was a connecting partner for the Region on this visit. Related blogpost is on Other Art and other practices and Bangalore.


17 april, 2009

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Other Art and other practices

I came to think of my grandfather when I visited the newly opened exhibition ”Other Art” at Göteborg Konstmuseum (Fine Art Museum in Göteborg). It’s the ”other” Art, the not established, that is shown. The self-taught Artists. All those nurses, farmers, teachers, cleaners, construction workers that do Art on their spare time, at their homes and with no intention of ever being exhibited or perhaps only very locally. Building a beautiful stone wall to keep the hens in place; building an animal memorial out of logs in protest of authorities’ animal laws; carving wooden figures of men signing up for military, small men with bent backs and bitten faces being checked by military officers; paintings; garden decorations; a home designed like a mosque to remind of a home country. Is this Art? The discussions have been vivid at the Museum of Fine Art if this should be shown or not at an established Art Exhibition Hall.

Another story related to this, is the one about all those people in the quiet promoting local self-taught Artists. The neighbours, friends, parents, children, auction dealers drinking coffee, visiting and admiring their work, buying and selling, collecting their Art work. My grandfather Bertil was such a person. He bought and sold Art (mainly paintings) and antiques. He bought what he thought would sell, but paintings he liked ended up hanging on his wall. His daily life was going to auctions. Does it connect somehow to each other? Other Art and other practices?

The thought of Bertil followed me after the exhibition, and I found this old and since long forgotten text about him. The text was done as a school assignment, a long time ago, but gives a glimpse of how life as a merchant and collector of Art and antiques could be shaped.


”In the middle of central Örebro, in a three-room apartment, Bertil Stenholm lives. The apartment has the style of the 1960s and is very well furnished. There is not a patch of the wall without paintings, not a corner without a chest of drawers and antique tables, not a shelf without crystal decorations. In the midst of this crowd of furniture and paintings, scan3557_000.jpgI met Bertil over a cup of cooking coffee (he always cooked his coffee) and cream to discuss his largest interest: Antiques.

Bertil was born in a merchant family in 1911. Already as a young man trading things was the large interest of his life. Buying and selling things is a very good way to earn money, Bertil thought at an early age. The most important with this form of trade is to keep up-to-date with merchants of antiques and go to auctions. You have to know what sort of things have a value and also what things there might be an interest of on the market.

To find antiques is hard, though. For something to be called an antique, it needs to be at least a hundred years old. The older, the more valuable. Price settles if the buy was a bargain or not. As Bertil put it: – There is a lot of running back an forth sometimes between different shows and merchants, many cups of coffee drunk, before a deal is done.

But also this form of trade has gone through changes. It’s not like the old days when auctions was still recognised as sound business. You sold furniture and objects you wanted to get rid of, to the highest bid on the auction. Today there is a range of laws and regulations to consider. It’s also allowed for the person selling, to put a bid or guard the price. If the object is not sold to this price, it will not be sold. As a buyer you pay a thirteen percent tax on everything bought.

Swindling is not uncommon. Objects are sold as antiques, even though they are not older than a few decenniums. For an unused audience or buyer, it’s easy to get cheated. You must thoroughly control the origin of the merchandise and take in expertise before you buy.

But despite changes in dealing with antiques, swindlers and tough bargaining, it is the perfect occupation for Bertil. There are no risks involved, since he doesn’t put in any capital. And as he says: – There is nothing better for us pensioners, who’s pensions doesn’t even cover a piece of pork!.”

The interview was done in the beginning of 1990s at his home in central Örebro, Sweden. Bertil Stenholm lived 1911–1999. Most of his working life he collected Art and antiques. When Bertil chose paintings it was mainly local Artists that was his passion. His main criteria for buying was if he liked the motive or not, usually landscapes and portraits.

24 mars, 2009

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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