Stenlund Sculpture studio_M

Sara walks into class every Thursday, a big bundle of happy energy, the picture above tells no lies. From being a student, to an artist, and now a teacher, Sara’s life has taken long routes and winding turns. I was curious about her journey and her work since her last interview and she invited me over to her studio in Raval on one sunny Sunday afternoon. I entered the studio to have my eyes attacked by candy coloured brains and hearts. Right next to them were a bunch of  miniature plastic babies dangling from a wire pierced through them – just a start to the many strange things that I would soon see scattered around her studio, she loved collecting things from flea markets she said, never know what could inspire her next sculpture. I loved how she’d filled up every breathing corner of her studio with her things, giving it so much personality, making it come alive and have an instant conversation with whoever came by. We plopped ourselves on her jute bag wrapped couch and chatted about art and life, because of course you can’t talk about one without talking about the other! Of the many things that had changed in Sara’s life, one thing struck me as rather constant, an art event called Konstrundan she’s been participating in consistently for the past four years. In fact, she was busy prepping up for her show this year – the candy coloured brains and hearts I spoke of earlier were a part of the same. Sara’s work has constantly evolved and grown, and the journey from realistic academic sculptures to these wildly expressive ones she’s working on now has been gradual, each year adding a layer of something new to her work which was constantly influenced by her growth as an individual, people in and out her of life, change of cities, and a strong desire to push the boundaries of expressing herself.
Sara's Studio_M
Below, she explains how Konstrundan came to be and how each year was different from the last. Over to Sara,
 
Every easter since four years I venture back to my hometown in Skåne, Sweden to participate in a popular art event called Konstrundan. It is a winning concept where 146 selected local artists open up their studios to the public during ten days. When the people of Skåne have grown bored of their relatives and of eating pickled herring and easter candy, they get in their cars and tour the countryside to visit artists in their studios. Every artist has their own exhibition space and they also put one art work each in a group show where people can go to get a preview and decide who they would like to visit. 
 
It’s an event for everybody, not just the art connoisseurs. A lot of people are shy to enter art galleries because they feel like they don’t know enough about art or that they aren’t desired because they don’t have the budget to buy. Konstrundan has a different vibe. Some come for entertainment, others for the free cookies and some because they are true art lovers wanting to get to know the artists, get inspired or buy something unique.
 
I find that often in my life things come to me in the most random ways and Konstrundan is not an exception. One day while walking my parents dog on the beach I had met a lady called Cajsa. We instantly found that we shared the interest in art and went to have tea at her place where she showed me a gorgeous etching of a medusa by Dali. We became friends and Cajsa wanted to support me so she proposed that I could host an exhibition at her house.

Casja’s room was perfect for a small exhibition, but fairly small for the 500 – 800 visitors that came daily during the first weekend of the show. But we managed well, thanks to my parents and my ex who helped me out with everything, from driving sculptures, to baking macarons for the opening and drilling holes in stones for fundaments for portraits.

 

 


2013


 

 I had recently graduated from the Florence Academy of Art. A lot of the art I exposed were student work. Some life size torsos and charcoal nudes. I also showed “The choir of old men”, a criticism against the patriarchy, in the shape of a globe with 101 male miniature portraits.
 
But the main piece, that got me in the local papers and on tv, was the sculpture “Go to the ant”. It’s a life size sculpture of a man obeying an ant, questioning who’s the superior. I find that even the smallest animal is more intelligent than humans, because they haven’t lost the ability to live in harmony with nature. My sculpture was the largest and most expensive piece of the group show and I was the youngest participant. Because of this combination I got a lot of attention and my private show became something of a success. I’m forever in debt to Joe who posed for the sculpture in that very uncomfortable position. 

Sara_2013

 

 
 

2014


 
 
 
The year after I had come across a bigger exhibition space and a lot of visitors from last year returned to see what was new. I remember especially Johan, a young fashion entrepreneur who made a stop during his jogging tour and bought four sculptures. There was also this adorable couple who returns every year and always moves me. The lady is blind and her husband guides her patiently through the exhibition explaining every piece while she studies them carefully with her fingertips.
 
At this time I had moved to Barcelona and I presented a series of sculptures inspired by the grotesques and gargoyles of the gothic facades. My main piece was a madonna with a gloria of forks. She’s inspired by a photograph by Jean Paul Gaultier, called L’immacultata, which means unstained and is also another name for the holy Mary. My piece is an icon, she is sacred and powerful but definitely not a virgin, nevertheless immaculate.   

Sara 2014

 


2015

 
 
 
This was the year I confused the people of Skåne with my african inspired, nail covered portraits. Everybody who entered the exhibition hall and confronted the portraits applied an expression of terror in their faces while whispering to each other -Do you think it’s voodoo? Maybe migraine? Sometimes I explained that the inspiration came from nkondis, sacred african sculptures made by shamans. They have the purpose to protect villages from evil and the villagers put nails into them to awaken the spirit that lives inside, to ask for help or healing. 
 
Sara_2015
 

2016


 
 
 
This year’s exhibition is starting on the 25 this month and I’m really looking forward to it, knowing I will see a lot of people who have become my friends and acquaintances thanks to this event. My work is this year more conceptual and expressive than ever. I’m slowly freeing myself from the “chains of the classical tradition”. For me, as for so many who has studied classical art, the technique had become both my sharpest tool for free expression and my biggest burden. Knowing my potential to create work of high technical level, I had become very judgmental of my own work and felt like I needed to do something good every time. I kept hearing my teachers, colleagues and my own judgement echoing in my head, killing the passion that had brought me to the profession in the first place. Perhaps this is every artists struggle, to allow ourselves to let go of judgement and experiment. Experimentation I believe is what constitutes an artist. More important than any technique, is it to go through life with a wide open spirit and have the courage and appetite to live new experiences. First then, when your life is interesting can something interesting reflect back in your work.
 
The work I will be presenting this year is partly from a series I call “Minds”. It explores the human minds ability to choose our condition. It started out with the sculpture ”the cage man” He is a portrait of a narrow minded man who uses inherited outdated ideas for constructing his values instead of using his own senses. In contrast to this critical piece I felt the need to create his opposite, “Vibrating energy”.  She’s an explosion of colours, ecstatic over the insight that she is a collection of particles vibrating with a certain frequency in an infinite universe.
 
 
Sara_2016
The exhibition starts today, so here’s wishing Sara all the very best for the show, and we can’t wait to hear her stories once she’s back! Here are some links where you can stay updated with work, and also check out pictures of the ongoing show,
Facebook: sara stenlund sculpture 
– Manasi Parikh / Intensive Drawing Student / 2nd Trimester