Jenny K Blake and Tobias Apelgren
Life experiences affect art making. In this work, møte (which translates to “meet”) the affect of exposure to another culture, varying environments and recurrent meetings with another artist have been explored. As a collaborative project, we were also interested in drawing as a form of expressive communication both in real time and over distance via electronic communication.
Whilst working in Norway for the Scandinavian Design Group from 2000-2003 I came in contact with Tobias Apelgren, a Swedish designer/illustrator. We have effectively been collaborating in our art making since. The process began in the studio with the comparison of sketches and sharing of various accumulated visual references. This process evolved to what we coined as a “møte”, a session in which a blank sheet of paper was progressively filled in a collaborative manner.
The first mark, often a reference to the cultural constructs within Norway (which we both found particularly interesting since we were expatriates) would be made in pencil or ink. In response to the initial mark we would cooperatively illustrate a narrative, often beginning at the centre of the page and spiralling out. Taking turn about, editing the other artist’s illustration or simultaneously drawing we would progressively fill the page. The process was wonderfully expressive exploring annotations, observations and interpretations of both the creative process and the affect of the Norwegian culture and the isolation of being an expatriate (which directly translates from Norwegian as “alien”), upon our lives.
The meeting process expanded from the corporate environment to cafes, bars and parks around the city, Vigelands Parken in Frogner being our favorite. We expanded the creative process to journeys, sometimes to Kostes, a small island off Sweden, or to the mountains, on sailboats and later through Asia and back to Australia. On each journey a series of drawings, photographs and the collection of various design paraphernalia and web site addresses recorded ideas to share and explore. Persistently exploring cultural constructs we also questioned the future of “culturally distinctive” design due to the exposure of art makers and designers to imagery via the internet and the popularity of travel.
We have continued our collaborative art making relaying ideas and drawings through mail and email. Møte is a celebration of our interaction and continued correspondence. It documents that effects of outside influences upon our art making and the creative process as a valid form of communication even in the context of the electronic environment. Regardless of distance, there is still the capacity to collaborate.