Frame 61

Sif Nørskov

Frame 61
Sif Nørskov

Background: I have always been writing, so this is where it all started for me. I joined an art school in Denmark at age 15 and became interested in visual art, especially photography. When I moved to London at 18 I completed a foundation diploma in photography and moved on to a BA in fine art at Central Saint Martins. This is where I realized that painting was the best medium for me to work with, which was partly a reaction to the pure theoretical approach that was taught on my pathway. I value conceptual art and art theory, but I also understood that I was not interested in making works that were embodiments of concepts exclusively, I wanted them to have visual significance as well, as this is one of the things that I personally enjoy and find meaningful about art.

Discarded/failed paintings: These works all consist of fragments from both the fronts and backs of my own discarded or failed paintings, but also include new patches of painting. However, the new fragments are sourced in a similar way to the older ones as I cover my studio walls in canvas and paint spontaneously and make decisions about which elements to use later on. I do not tend to plan what the paintings will end up looking like in advance, as the process of joining them together is based on both visual decisions as well as reflections on how colors, textures and materials interact and begin to form an image that might bear resemblance to something.

Repurposed and revived: This is the most important aspect of my practice and comes from my fascination with literature and storytelling. To me, writing is a way of reassembling words and concepts that we already know to bring forth something new, which has translated into my painterly practice in the sense that materials are repurposed and revived as they become part of a new image.

The idea that something becomes an element of a new whole opens up possibilities that one might not have thought of at first and hands a certain power to the material qualities of painting itself. In that sense, there is an aspect of chance within my practice and the mechanical element of the sewing machine contributes to a process that begins with an idea that produces a painting that also has material and aesthetic significance.

Process/order out of chaos: It is definitely an order out of chaos process, but one that becomes more careful as the paintings begin to come together and I begin the sewing and assemblage of the cut-outs. I start by selecting the scraps that I want to use from the piles of canvas that I have accumulated, but sometimes change my mind about what to combine with what during the process of sewing. When I am in the last stage of making a painting, my floor is completely covered in threads, rolls and cut-outs of canvas, and at the end, these works emerge from this chaos.

Influences: This changes frequently, but I am inspired by a very wide variety of artists, from old masters like Caravaggio and Rembrandt, to young and emerging artists. One artist whose works I first encountered as a child and keep returning to, are those of Danish painter Per Kirkeby. I am fascinated by the landscapes that he creates, and am inspired by their existence in-between abstraction and representation.

Titles: Naming my works has always been difficult as titles have the power to immediately alter the way in which something is perceived. I decided to title my works in the same way that I produce them, by making intuitive decisions that merges with, and emphasizes the process, behind their making and these are therefore somewhat ambiguous.

Studio/routine: Because I have two methods of working, painting and sewing, I often spend several days painting and then go on to sew for several days. This approach allows me to step back for a while and return to what I have painted with a clearer mind and also keeps me excited about what I am doing as I am someone who gets bored of repetition.

Although I am not a morning person by nature, I try to wake up early every day and keep a calendar in which I plan out what I need to get done by each day. It works well for me to set myself deadlines and it keeps me working hard. Because I am currently an MA student at the Royal College of Art, I also have to make time for course related activities, so no two days are the exact same at the moment.

What's Next: It has taken me a long time to identify some of my core interests as an artist so I think that I will continue to explore these by experimenting further with the materials and methods that I am currently dealing with. I will be experimenting with scale and technique in particular and as it is not of crucial importance to my works that the painting is done by myself, I will begin incorporating materials that are sourced from outside of my own studio.

Future shows: My works are currently on show at Denton’s and I am shortlisted for the new Denton’s Art Prize which is judged by Simon Lee, Susan Hiller and Ziba Ardalan. Other than that I am working with painter Goia Mujalli on a group exhibition. 

Artist website

Publishing date of this interview 08/03/16