Every day I would sit on the rocks in front of Messen to silently watch the waters of the fjord, and then wander down the streets of Ålvik. I was soaking in the sights that would later be translated in my drawings back at the studio: water, rocks, grass, buildings, trees. During one of these walks I came upon the 1958 pavilion, a tiny, disused bandstand overlooking the fjord, with peeling paint and an audience of large rocks.
The mystery of this place was so intriguing to me that it became the central focus of two paintings, and the themes conjured by it (performance, curious spaces, and imagined narratives) continue to be explored in my work today. The wonderfully old building that houses the visiting artists is a perfect, quiet atmosphere in which to focus. Kunstnarhuset Messen offered me an inspiring landscape, a time of peace and deep concentration, and space to create.
During my two separate stays at Messen I produced three gouache-on-paper pieces, one oil painting, and multiple gouache sketches for future use. Several pieces made afterwards were either based on ideas and sketches formed during the residency, or were a continuation of themes that began with the work made at Messen.
Spending time in Norway was an exciting cultural and environmental experience, and vastly different from my current place of residence in Qatar. The landscape, needless to say, is breathtaking. I learned a lot about the history of Hardanger at the folk museum in Utne, and was particularly interested in the traditional women’s costume.
The Hardanger bunad made an appearance in one piece I produced at Messen, and the accompanying red and black capes worn by girls during the May 17th parade in Ålvik have been depicted in two others. A book of photographs by Anders Paulsson Wallevik that I brought back to Qatar continues to inspire and influence my work.
Zoe Hawk (USA) lives in Quatar, and stayed twice in Messen (2012/2013) together with Zach Stensen.