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Gjertrud Hals

Discovering paper as a medium was a revelation to me as an artist. This humble and cheap way to express oneself felt like a great gift, and it soon started to play an important role in my work., alone or in combination with other materials.

All images Courtesy by the artist

I was born in 1948 and grew up on a small island on the north-west coast of Norway. In my 20s I was trained in classic tapestry weaving, but soon felt it was too rigid for me and I started experimenting with new ways to express my ideas. I have been active as an artist since the mid 1970s. Religion, history, nature, science and philosophy are sources of inspiration, besides my own memories  and experiences.

Discovering paper as a medium was a revelation to me as an artist. This humble and cheap way to express oneself felt like a great gift, and it soon started to play an important role in my work., alone or in combination with other materials. My breakthrough came in the late 1980s with Lava, a series of one-metre-high urns made of cotton and flax pulp. The vessel /container is a concrete universal shape with a wide range of associations, everything from utensils used for ritual purposes to those of everyday use. It is ancient, yet at the same time contemporary, timeless. I have been making them through all these years, in different materials, as indoor installations or outdoors; set up on the mountain and even in ponds.

Next to the vessels/urns, «nets /net constructions»is a central theme in my artistic practice. The concept of network includes the symbolic as well as the concrete: I grew up in a community with close contact to «the net», as there was an abundance of fishing of herring going on every winter. The herring were caught in large nets and hauled up in smaller ones. Since my childhood in the 1950s and 60s a new type of net has emerged; the global one.. And those who research the human brain uncover layer upon layer of networks. One gets the feeling of living in a time where more and more revolves around «the net».  

To express my ideas I use a diversity of craft techniques; knitting, weaving, crocheting and embroidery, combining these with various paper and resin cast techniques. The materials are often natural fibers, but also metal, fiberglass and carbon. Like gathering worldwide myths and experiences, collecting material and objects is an important part of my work process. Most of my material I get from friends and family, find it on the recycle places for metal, or I pick it up from beaches and walk roads.

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