ARTWORK OF THE MONTH: CAMILLA NIELSEN (Born 1972)
9 eggs are resting on a foundation of tree. Three of marble, rounded and complete. Three of bronze, incomplete, composite, and raw. Three are halved and are a shell of bronze. They’re lying in rows, three and three, and are creating a pattern or columns.
This is a sculpture by Camilla Nielsen (born 1972); made in 2003 in Canada, where she studied at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
-We had a foundry in the basement, and both me and Miki (Jacobsen, ed.) were down in that basement for four years, as basement rats, and experimented – finding out how one works with bronze.
The sculpture at Nuuk Art Museum is made from bell bronze. The three half eggs play a fine and clear tune when hit. The piece actually includes six half eggs more, which unfortunately is not part of the museum’s collection. The sculpture was part of a sound installation with mussels, where these eggs were played at the same time as sounds of the ocean and Miki Jacobsen’s voice. It was part of the exhibition “Indre Strømninger” (translates roughly to “Internal Currents”, ed.) at Nuuk Art Museum in 2007, where Camilla Nielsen and Miki Jacobsen exhibited together.
The sculpture goes back to Camilla Nielsen’s time at Nuuk Art School, Now Greenland’s Art School, in 1996-97 where she made sculptures that made noises.
-Pieces that make noises have always inspired me, and at that time I made a chair which was also a drum, and the shape was inspired by Sydney’s Opera House.
Something else that has come back and forth in Camilla Nielsen’s art is the interaction between finished, the round, the soft, and the raw expression.
-It reminds us that the world has many aspects. Just as in life. It’s in the contrast where we often find our way.
Many of the same motives are repeated in her different pieces of art, and it’s in the repetition where she processes it. The egg is a repeated item in her art. She underlines that there is no symbolic intention behind the fact that there are 9 pieces or that they’re made three of a kind, but rather, that she wanted to explore the material – what happens when you combine stone and bronze in the different membranes.
Other motives which she repeats and explores are the fish – especially the redfish – and the mussel. The egg, fish, and mussel become symbolic of something else in the repetition and exploration. They point to form, process, and material rather than the motive itself.
In her painting, one of which are exhibited at Nuuk Art Museum, she works with acrylic paint, watercolor, and pen on top of each other – even with chalk in the piece found at Nuuk Art Museum.
-I think it’s a matter of getting that exact structure and color that I want. The watercolor has a wonderful ability to lay layer upon layer, which also is a very old way of working, and suits me very well. You sort of work upward.
Camilla Nielsen doesn’t work with sketches or anything fixed.
-When I’m finished, it looks very different from what I began with. I work until I think I’m finished with it. I simply don’t know how to work in one material first and then get started on another.
The painting at Nuuk Art Museum’s collection is without title, and came from a period where she worked a lot with smiley faces, and how the mind works when it sees three dots – how much the mind constructs compared to how much there actually is. The painting without title is a sidepiece to a series of 12 which was part of Kimik’s exhibition when the new exhibition area of Nuuk Art Museum opened in 2007 (Kimik is the association of Greenlandic Artists). The oval head and the three dots created the foundation for working with different color combinations. Again, this is a process of exploring the material and repetition of a motive.
The painting without title is dominated by the blue and the orangey red. It is painted of broad expressive paint strokes, which carries numerous colors, and from these strokes one senses the layer-on-layer building of colors. One stroke is not just one color. A white-ish oval with three big slightly smeared dots found towards the middle of the painting.
Aside from the painting without title at Nuuk Art Museum, three works of graphics by Camilla Nielsen are exhibited, where she has placed a three dimensional item on top of something two dimensional. The three pieces are part of a series of 22 which was also part of the exhibition Indre Strømninger.
The graphic pieces are built up as a boxing system of phrames. From the outside there is a silver frame, thereafter the passepartout, then the edge of the paper that the piece is printed on, and thereafter the actual print, and inside the print there’s a photo; one of a smoothly polished face in a raw mass; another of a smoothly polished raw stone; a third of an opened book on a stand. As the praming is layer on layer, the motive also goes and points to something else than the motive itself.
-The bronze book is the actual material book to how to make the bronze that I have cast; which became a physical version of what it said in the book. Those are words about my work, even though one can’t really see what it says. There are traces of something, but you never get the full story of it.
The stone on the photography is called “Tension” and has a buddy both in the three dimensional physical world, and in the world of graphic art, which it matches with. The 22 different graphic art pieces are not necessarily thought as one big art piece though; according to Camilla Nielsen, they can exist on their own and as a collection.
The photographs are circled by a colored phrame, where some of the rolling lines grow from below. It is the artists own hair, which winds up through the art piece. This graphic art technique is called cine-collé – it is a printing technique where a thin layer of Japanese paper is attached to a thicker motherboard before it is printed – with use of the copper plate, where her own hair got etched and in the end colored by hand.