Monday, March 21, 2011

The longest post ever: The interview

Today will be the third installment on the celebration of post 500 with the forfillment of Julie's wish. Julie gave me 5 questions to answer. Now since this will, without a doubt, be the longest post ever I suggest you first get a cup of tea or coffee and sit down comfortably. Julie's instructions: i'll only give you five, but i want you to give good, long answers to them! Here are the questions:
1.  you make so many lovely things all the time, why don't you have an etsy or big cartel shop?
2.  what is your favorite thing about living in denmark? and your least favorite thing?
3.  if you were going to start a revolution, what would be your cause?
4.  you do a lot of embroidery series to explore a theme. how does this work for you and your creativity?
5.  you read blogs widely and explore the vast expanse of the internet - how do you process all of that information/inspiration and how does it manifest itself in your work?

Now I could just answer each question and move on to the next one but I chose to take a slightly different approach.  Here we go:

As a young girl I started knitting, crochet and embroidery like any other girl at school. This caused my teacher some grey hair because I didn't stick to the instructions but she didn't complain too much because I always made my assignments in my own way. For a very long time most of the things I made were for others. If I considered someone a friend they were very likely to get a handmade present on their birthday or at other special occasions. The making process was always a very special time for me but I realized that my efforts weren't always noticed by the receiver.

(a reproduction of some of my crochet mistakes)

Now most of you know that I'm Dutch and moved to Denmark 5 years ago. Denmark wasn't a stranger to me. I lived on another danish peninsula before and spent many holidays here. Each time it was the landscape that attracted me. Both times I ended up on an island because I love the beach, it is my favorite place because of all its movement and peace at the same time. Clean air, the blue skies, a friendly landscape, the four seasons (although at the moment I am done with King Winter), the sense of having space without feeling lost in the landscape. All of this attracts me time and again.

My isle in spring

Unfortunately the landscape and the natives have not that much in common, seen from my perspective. My least favorite encounters are the large blocked doors I keep knocking on. Like others, I find it very difficult to make contact with Danes. My danish isn't perfect, I'm probably a bit too outgoing for danish standards and I don't fit in with the latest boxes of cool. All of this and their closed nature doesn't lead to a happy social environment but I don't wish to become a Dane and therefore have to accept that I am on the outside.
found on the internet

Still I am a social human being in need of some social interaction. Luckily I met the very talented and kind-hearted Elsita online. She talked me into starting a creative blog after seeing some of my work. I didn't want to make just presents for others anymore. I wanted something that was even more meaningful and over time my perspective on my creative endeavours changed. This time I wanted to make objects for me, special momentums that held more meaning for me than anyone else.

My inspiration can be almost anything, I read a lot, visit blogs on all kinds of subjects, feed my visual beast on flickr, visit musea and train my mind and body with taekwondo. I am interested in all kinds of subjects. The fact that I read about embroidery doesn't dismiss my interest in the new social structure made by people in Detroit or my need to listen to the different topics on Tedtalks or to read about how a person creates a lifestyle that fits him or her. I am passionate about music in all its forms but want to learn more about sustainability too because we only have one planet to live on. Communication, co-incidences, synchronicity, beliefsystems, poetry, following my interests, I crave it because that is, for me, the way to become all the woman I can be.  The best offerings are given by surprise. I am just a happy girl if the world offers me something that I didn't know I needed.

Some of you already asked a few times how do you process all of this? That isn't too difficult. An open your mind and heart and a desire to feed myself are the basic ingredients. By sharing my links I get feedback and the learning process continues in that way. Human beings have a large capacity to absorb information. What I do is trying only to absorb the information which is beneficial to me. So I might not know about the latest trend in fashion or the insides on the wars around the world. On the other hand I did stumble on and got as one of the first the new book of Jan Messent Celtic, Viking &Anglo-Saxon embroidery and a chance to discuss the science essay Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience peak emotion to music with a friend. It is just a choice, like so many we make each day.

As soon as a topic keeps showing up, I'm drawn to it or it simply keeps me pre-occupied it is a sign to start travelling with it. For instance with the project Changing the landscape. Over the years I have visit numerous burial grounds, read about them, helleristninger kept on appearing and than after our visit to Norway and seeing so many of rockcarvings it becomes more or less a natural thing to do.

(helleristninger/rock carvings in Norway)

At a certain point I got such an overload of stories about Detroit and the ideas behind the various aspects that it resulted in a new collaborative blog on sustainable living. This blog gives me a chance to travel a different path and a new outlook, a different way to explore.
courtesy of Mother Earth News

The shoebox I made after seeing an fundraise exhibition in which there were beautiful shoeboxes in mixed media but none were made with textile. I took it as a challenge and made my blue shoebox. And than ofcourse there are these thoughts/ideas which keep swirling around which can lead to a project like the Book of Worlds.

The project Magnificent windows was started by a few seconds in a documentary. Since there is wide variety of ways to start a project it is fair to say that almost anything can become a project. In each project I need to explore and I want to add something to my creative toolbox. A stitch, a way of drawing, different fabrics, a symbol, ... In that way my skills expand and therefore my next project might turn out even better. I love to think about communication and all the different aspects and layers in this, if anything that is the red thread in my work.

Now if someone would like to pay me to do my creative work I would accept it with the largest smile on my face and I don't mind sharing the yield of my time. A shop is probably the most obvious way to travel. What is needed to start a shop on-line with the potential to become succesful? A large following on-line or network, a blog that serves as a shopwindow and an account on Etsy, Big Cartel or .... Now do I have a large following? No. Why not? Probably because my work isn't controversial and I don't wish it to be either. I'd rather start a revolution on accepting and being in peace with oneself as a step to peace in the world than to start another controversy.
What more attracts a lot of people? Well, sex sells and I do like the variety the Karma Sutra is offering, unfortunately I have absolutely no desire to embroider the different positions. In other words I haven't found the instant winner topic which has the interest of a large group of people and me. Ofcourse I could start a shop anyway and spend a lot of time forcing a breakthrough with a variety of marketingtools but I'd rather do what I love and tell you about it. 

One of the things I would like to tell you is that in a few weeks I will be on a fleamarket with Jude & Julie in Sønderborg. I agreed to do this because I love to hang out with these two ladies. Would you like to meet us? Come to the Forårsmarked at fiskerihavnen in Sønderborg on the 9th of April. It starts around 9.00 in the morning til about 12.00 o'clock. (Lets's hope for some sunshine and no wind otherwise we become three icecones.)
In case you can't come to the market but you're licking your lips,  there is a lump in your throat and you're not able to swallow it or your heart can't stop racing, your knees feel wobbly and you notice a pair of sweaty palms when you see a piece of art you longed for but didn't know it until this moment, just write me. Tell me why this particular piece is the one you want and need to give a new home. It is very likely to become yours after all and if I ever start a shop, you will be the first to know. I promise.

Now time to wrap up this interview. Thank you for visiting and reading this long post. Julie thank you for your questions and friendship. Have fun today while starting a new week filled with smiles.



Zuzana said...

Dear Elizabeth,
Maybe this was the longest post ever, but it was truly the most interesting one of yours ever in my eyes.;)

It was the most candid and revealing one you ever wrote.
I love the fact that you chose to incorporate your answers into a story rather then just answering each question separately.
I love the usual posts you share as they are often very informative and artistic, but even though you reveal so much about your own interests and sentiments when it comes to creativity, you keep a lot of other personal stuff under wraps. So this was truly refreshing.

As a non-Dane in Denmark I share so much of your own opinions when it comes to the closed doors. After a decade living here I still have not made any true friends - except for you and perhaps a few acquaintances that are like me, foreigners.;)
At times this has made me seriously contemplate to leave Denmark and move closer to my family.
But, I still agree with you on the beauty of the Scandinavian nature, I think I would miss it like crazy.

I know that one day when you are ready, you will have a shop.;) What kind it will be, I do not know yet. But I agree with you - things like that can not be forced. One day it will be clear to you what to do and it will be success.
Too bad Sønderborg is still some drive away from me or I would come to that marked.;)
I hope you guys have fun nevertheless.

I really enjoyed this dear Elizabeth, glad that Julie asked you all these questions.;)
Have a lovely Monday, the first in the new spring.;)

julochka said...

i knew that you would answer my questions deeply and thoroughly. and while i realize it's impossible to explain one's creative process, i think you came as close as one can get to how inspiration manifests as art. thank you for this, dear elizabeth. i will be back to read this one again and again.


Anneli/Bockfilz said...

Dear Elizabeth,

Just like Zuzana, I very much appreciated to read about your thoughts and feelings on the questions you were asked - and though I feel connected to you already through your postings, your art work and our private correspondence, it was very nice indeed to have one more glimpse into your life.

I can understand your feelings about living as a foreigner in a new country very well, as I am in a similar situation - and still: you and I have chosen our new homelands voluntarily, we are not refugees who have had to leave all behind ... it's hard to imagine how difficult that would be.

Your words about not having a shop are very wise, I think - I guess if you have one, you are also selling a bit of your freedom to spend your time and your inspiration on whatever interests you most ...

I wish you a nice and funny time with your friends at the flea market - and a lovely, most creative start into spring, dear Elizabeth!

Judith said...

Dear Elizabeth,
Such wonderfully thoughtful answers to some very good questions!
See you soon!

karen said...

fascinating and compulsive reading....why do I feel though as if I knew all that already... maybe I am your big sister after all.

lheurebleue said...

dankjewel voor dit oprechte bericht. ik bewonder je eerlijke manier van leven met veel aandacht voor zowel je innerlijke leven als het leven en de natuur om je heen.
ik denk wel dat die dichte deuren niet typisch deens zijn - het zelfde overkomst zoveel anderen die als ze volwassen zijn in een ander land (ook in Nederland!) gaan wonen.

Susan Deborah said...


Wonderful to know intimate details about you. Tags like this enable one to know more about the writer and it seems good that you took time and were honest with all the details. I enjoyed reading this immensely.

Joy always,