Alexandra Engelfriet: Intertwining, 2022
The breath-taking landscape of the high plateau of Venabu fjellet in the mountainous region of Norway, formed the backdrop for my project ‘Intertwining’, which I realized at the Centre for ceramic art, in Ringebu, Norway, from half May to half June 2022.
Every year Torbjørn Kvasbø, director of the Centre of ceramic art, invites an artist to realize a project in the ‘fjøset’, the old cow stable in the reconverted former farm in which the Centre is located. The ‘fjøset’ is left in its rough, unforgiving state. Each artist works with the same 10 tons of raw clay.
I choose to transform the dry clay into slip and mix it with the wool from local sheep, referring to an age-old way of mixing clay with straw or other material to use for building. The special breed of sheep that roam the high plateau during the summer months, feeding on the grasses, reindeer mosses and bushes that grow there, develop exceptional coats of wool to withstand the cold climate during winter. They have long hair in beautiful mixtures of colour, each coat is different.
In one movement that takes one minute, the sheepshearer frees each sheep of its thick winter coat as soon as spring arrives. It was a great pleasure to work with this generous material.
I started to see the textures of the sheep coats everywhere in the surrounding landscape, in the pine forests that covered the mountain slopes, in the reindeer mosses of the high plateau.
During the three weeks I worked in the space, the work evolved through a process of physically engaging with the materials. Filmmaker Brage Kvasbø followed closely with his camera the movements in the material while I shaped it. In such projects I am challenged to engage in a truly unpredictable process. That is when things happen that could only happen on that particular moment in time, at that particular place, and new possibilities emerge.