Category Column

CTColumn:: You Should Study Art!


Time for a bit of sentimentality. In 2008 I studied at the Ottawa School of Art in Canada; the country of incomparable coolness. I don’t know why Canadians are so down-to-earth, but it is contagious and wonderful. During that year I studied painting, sculpture and drawing with four loving, encouraging, challenging and talented instructors by the names David Clendining (sculpture), Mahshid Farhoudi (drawing) and Andrew Fay (painting). In this column you can see a couple of works by Andrew Fay, who is represented by La Petite Mort Gallery.

Ottawa School of Art is located next to ByWard Market, which is Canada’s oldest continuously operating market, and the neighboring streets are lined with galleries, cozy cafes and Delicatessens. Friends back home thought I should have gone to New York instead, but courtyard moments with fellow artists at Planet Coffee around the corner (with heavenly scones) assured me that Ottawa was the way to go.

“Bad Holiday” by Andrew Fay, Acrylic on canvas, 26″ X 48″ , 2011,                      La Petite Mort Gallery

What about the notorious winter weather? The snow came down in quantities which seemed like tons and there I was, on my bike, sliding to the left and to the right between the cars with a 60” x 48” canvas under my arm. It was mad, and it was fun and I didn’t fall once. Something grabbed a hold of me during that year and shook me vigorously; to study art is was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. After years of dissatisfying music and media studies in Sweden it was like stepping into my real essence, being born again in front of the blank canvas as Andrew Fey introduced us to the project ‘To interpret an Old Master painting.’ The big studio was cramped with excited individuals of all sexes and ages with grey hair, blonde hair, brown hair and red hair. Short and tall; united in our urge to embark on the new adventure. Some of us grabbed the palette knife and attacked the canvas with no mercy, to sculpt cheekbones and knees and candle light. Others carefully dotted surrounding landscapes and moved the brush in soft movements, gently working on the transition from raw sienna to burnt sienna. Looking back, I regret not having been a little more interested in the others creative process, but the day did not have enough hours to satisfy me. It was something of a manic ecstasy going on inside of me, impossible to control.

“Allegory of Injustice” Andrew Fay, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, 2012               La Petite Mort Gallery

“Wild Lilly”, Mahshid Farhoudi

The drawing classes were very different; they gave me a pounding headache from the extreme focus. Damn, I wanted to walk out and never look back, but I was determined to develop my vision and connect the hand to that vision. It is a big surprise, and even a bit intimidating, to realize how much there is to see when you take a close look at anything. Lines, proportions, shades, movements, distances, textures… Mamma Mia. That is what you get when your drawing teacher has studied in Florence and I learnt a lot.

Dave Clendining is something of a vortex of positive energy and inspired all sculpture students to transform a lump of clay to a sensual female body during our life model classes. We took many breaks and drank a lot of coffee and had a fantastic time. Have you considered taking a painting course or to go to art school? I will assure you that you are never too old and there is no such thing as ‘untalented’… So go for it!

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and chief editor 

CTColumn:: Contemplating The Artist Zone in Golden Sunset

CC: Notsogoodphotography


Contemplating The Artist Zone in Golden Sunset  

When I walked to the gym the day after the Olympic relay passed through Leyton, the excitement had settled. I didn’t see the relay, but the Turkish owner of the corner shop proudly announced that it had been ‘Very many people! Very many!‘ at the event and I thought about that quite a lot. What does the number of people involved say about the quality of an event? Sure, we generally value quantity rather than quality, authenticity and depth. To be a part of a group or a crowd instills a sense of normality, comfort and sanity, which is why it is necessary for every artist to venture outside of that comfort zone in order to express individuality and depth. The paradox is that this shared action binds artists together and creates new a comfort zone, which allows individual and irrational explorations. The American photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne talked about this when I interviewed him at Daniel Blau Gallery last year:

“…I think that we are very socially constructed animals and we do these things and they seem genuine, because millions and millions of other people are doing the same thing. I do however believe that there is an authenticity to doing something that you really have to do. You really need to do this and you are putting at risk something. […] I think that when you are doing that, and you are a little more savvy to ways things have been constructed, it might construct a design to ultimately come to a composition. When I do this I am speaking through many tongues, it is not just a fourth tongue. There are hundreds of tongues and I think that as a maker you try to engage a lot of these tongues so that the image isn’t stuck in one moment, but both in the time and out of the time.”

I am not a sociologist, but our society is still my concern. It is finally a summer day in London and as I stroll through Leyton I use the side streets where I can dance a little. When nobody can see me, I can spread my wings and feel free (whilst effectively moving from A to B).

With the gym-scented wind in my hair I run and run and run and exhausted yet energized from the exercise, I walk back as the setting sun is throwing golden layers on all things lined in the direction of the thick rays. The houses, the cars, the trees and the skipping young girl are painted with patches of gold. There is no cheering crowd, but my whole being is buzzing with a love of life. Although it would be great to do a little dance, there are people around so I settle with a knowing smile. If we could store the sun rays in bottles and sell them for a lot of money it could be worth celebrating. Yes, if that was the case, people would be dancing together like crazy at sunset and feel incredibly rich.

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and Chief Editor 

CTColumn:: The Failure of a Creative Sunday

Yesterday was a good Sunday at the art studio; I painted and my boyfriend made music and during our breaks we chatted with some of the artists whom we share the warehouse with. After the first cup of coffee, he went to the shop and came back and prepared a beautiful breakfast. Well-fed and caffeined we set off into the Sunday.

Doesn’t this sound like an ideal situation? It was, so how come it was lined with creative frustration, bad moods and a constant search for cables, which lead to a complete collapse of what could have been a magnificent creative Sunday?

Well, sometimes you just want too much at the same time and the creative force has the ability to squash everything which threatens to delay, alternate or (God forbid) kill its spirit. It is a train shooting into the future and although you aren’t behind the wheel you are on it and the driver isn’t listening to your shouts. That god damn train is flying through the air and when ordinary life is attempting to interrupt, you desperately cling on to a string of rope tied to the back of the last train car… Ugh. An overwhelming scent of creativity (can’t smell it?) is flooding the senses of the deprived expressor.  


Image source:


“Be like water, my friend” – Bruce Lee 

That plan to go to the park, to get on a train towards Dover, to clean the studio, to take care of piles of paper work, take a swim and then relax in the sauna, to cook a beautiful dinner, to work on the webpage, to write that project description for the funding application, to publish, edit and prepare features and interviews (in plural), to explore tantra… Maybe another day.

If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend who is an artist and appears to be either obsessed with or even possessed by the urge to create then let them get on with it then. Whatever is begging to come out, must come out; it entered and must now materialize on the other side; pretty or ugly, challenging or soothing; humorous or frightening.

We fell asleep slightly disappointed and the following morning we agreed that London knows how to push us to the limit. The rainy clouds had gathered for another Monday morning in East London. On my way to the tube I walked through rows of houses and when glancing through a window I saw a man sitting on a chair in the middle of an empty living room watching the TV. There was only one chair and a TV in his living room.


This poster was created by the UK Government  during the beginning of WW2


I made a silent agreement with the TV junky, “If you spend the rest of your life watching movies and TV, I will continue with what I do and I am sure that there are people out there that take care of the forest walks and the tantric explorations. This way we can all focus on what matters the most.” He mumbled something about time-management, I have no idea what he was talking about.

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and Chief Editor


CTColumn:: Concerning organic dialogue and barbarians

“Let me witness their faces light up when we come to a mutual understanding… We are always surprised by how the organic dialogue leads us to unexpected territory.”

A couple of weeks ago, seated around the fire in a Swedish forest on a lukewarm summer evening, I was trying to articulate a frustration of mine to my family members. They were sweet enough to pay attention, but ended up looking like question marks, as often happens when career-related issues are being discussed with wine infused relatives.  Maybe you can follow my trail of thought as I am writing this sober.

Stephanie enters the exhibition and all she sees is the singular products at the end of the production line of the painter. There is also a price, specified dimensions and materials used. Stephanie is left alone with her experience of the works and being an art lover; she engages fully-heartedly with the patches of colour and responds to it with her abilities.

Personally I can’t do this anymore, because at some point I got tired of having that internal dialogue concerning other people’s work. I require a meeting with the artist. Let me smell them. Let me hear them describe their work in their own words, let me see the colour of their eyes changing as they reach a certain subject. Let me register what they don’t mention and notice the nervous body language which signals that they have left the ordinary pitch. Let me witness their faces light up when we come to a mutual understanding… We are always surprised by how the organic dialogue leads us to unexpected territory.

“Where does she get it from?” becomes an increasingly interesting question. We live in exciting times when anything goes, but in the back of my head I hear J.P. Getty’s words “The Twentieth-century barbarians cannot be transformed into cultured, civilized human beings until they acquire an appreciation and love for art.” To love art is to love your own ability to create and express that which cannot be articulated in any other way. Barbarians of the 21st century – how about us? We steal, we lie, we cheat, back-talk, gossip, deafen ourselves with TV and random entertainment and wage war on a global and on a personal level… It has to be said that we are lost.

“…it was clear that could she have freed her mind from hate and fear and not heaped it with bitterness and resentment, the fire was hot within her.” Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)

Forgive me Woolf, I’m not bothering about politics in this world-wide kakistocracy (kak·is·toc·ra·cy, [kak-uh-stok-ruh-see], government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power) and spirituality should stay where it belongs, in the metaphysical realm (otherwise we can throw cleaver quotations amongst each other in eternity). So what can we do?


Stephanie eventually bought a painting which reminded her of the ocean. The gallerist is happy and so is the artist and the artist’s agent. Each of them can proceed on their path; it’s all good. It is just that I am convinced that we can do better than that.

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and Chief Editor


CTColumn:: Echo From The Art Jungle

“Where does she get it from?” the private view art mingling Londoners mumble over the free drinks each First Thursday, First Wednesday, First Tuesday and on the odd nights when the brave and special galleries choose to have their openings. I remember coming to London and being incredibly art thirsty; drooling over brush strokes, contrasting oil textures and ten thousand other versions of creative expression. It didn’t take me long to wonder what the rest of the crowd was doing there. Where they really only there for the free drinks? During the exhibition of the wandering artist, whose name I cannot remember, in a Mayfair gallery a couple of years ago, a Ugandan Indian, whose name I shall keep anonymous, came up to me with slightly sleepy wine-eyes and declared that he was indeed an art lover. We had a chat and as a result, I ended up on a mailinglist which supplied all previously wealthy (at least in their dream world) West-End folks with a weekly e-mail report of where to go for the free drinks. Yes, I did give him my business card and hoped that he would buy one of my paintings, because my older and more experienced friends told me to network, and the man did have a nice suit and Regent Street was gleaming as prosperous as ever before.

“Where does she get it from?” used to sound like a peculiar question with no substance, until I realized that many people have no conception of creativity and what it feels like to be grabbed by that invisible powerful force that makes you walk your garbage to the tube, put on skirts inside out and eat breakfast for lunch and dinner. Observe, sketch, research, paint, and paint, and paint, and then document, throw it all online on a webpage, contact galleries and go networking. Oh, we all know the drill and it can make a wreck out of any passionate artist burning with the will to break through. How many artists come to London for a couple of years and then give up? It can be chocking to realize how many amazing artists there are out there in the complex business jungle that is built around and feeding off creative expression, and in addition, the numbers of foreign painters represented by London galleries (not including the internationally recognized) are not many.


I started writing about artists because I found that the focus on art was consistently and close to entirely on the economic value and the trade of the same; the artist’s journey is absent. We must remember that we are not producing commercial objects. The story is infinitely more beautiful, and/or painful, and definitely more complex. Let’s rise above the competition mentality and focus on the real work.

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and Chief Editor