Christmas came early this year. I just received this beautiful collographic print in the post. The sender? My artist uncle, Preben Andersen.The photo does not pay it justice as you don’t get the wonderful play between print and paper so evident in real life.
I grew up in a working-class family in rural Denmark, but ours was a weird family. Everybody seemed to be creative one way or another. Some of my uncles set up their own ‘beat combo’ in the mid-1960s which led to much heartache among the local teenage girls. Others became more interested in visual arts and crafts: murals, collages, sculpture, pottery.. Of course my family still obsessed over football results and popular music, but there was a definite and pervasive sense of self-expression and creative exploration which I recognise in myself.
I grew up with paintings on the wall and frequent visits to galleries exhibiting works by members of my family. I inherited a big pile of art history books from my great-grandmother’s brother (who had been a farm labourer as well as a painter). I recall one summer when I spent days in my great-grandmother’s backyard trying to use a hammer and chisel so I could carve out a sculpture from a cheap piece of concete.
I never knew my upbringing to be different from everybody else – that is, until I started school and other kids did not make their own Christmas decorations, their mums did not knit them jumpers in mad colours, and their parents much preferred reproductions of famous paintings (Monet’s water lilies, in particular) to no-name oil paintings by weird uncles. It was a rude awakening but thankfully I did not reject my unusual upbringing. I just .. well, I’m still a crafty, creative, slightly odd person, am I not?
I paint too.
Well, I used to paint. I have sold a couple of paintings over the years, never made enough decent paintings to stage a real exhibition and currently I live in a space which does not lend itself to splashing acrylic paint around. I miss it, though I know I am not particularly gifted; I just love colour – one of my first art loves was Wassily Kandinsky unsurprisingly. I am also shacked up with an art school boy who is a creative, slightly oddball and colour-obsessed man. They always say you end up marrying your father – I did not have a father but I had a huge number of creative, slightly oddball, and colour-obsessed uncles. Draw your own conclusions.
Finally, just two quick links to two of my favourite artists/paintings. I grew up with figurative art but I fell in love with abstract art very early on in my life.