Interview with Artist Magne Furuholmen, Exhibiting at Dovecot Studios

This March Dovecot Studios opens a new exhibition of work from Norwegian visual artist and musician Magne Furuholmen. After visiting Dovecot Tapestry Studio in 2013, Furuholmen set about producing a a new unique woodcut print design for a tapestry entitled Glass Onion. The exhibition, Peeling a Glass Onion, also features music, film, printmaking and large-scale ceramics. We speak to Furuholmen about his move into tapestry and how Dovecot inspired the new work.

A: Peeling a Glass Onion is due to appear at Dovecot Studios this March, what was the initial idea behind this project?
The initial conversations were based on the fact Dovecot believed that my visual works would be well suited for translation into tapestry. The director David Weir saw my solo show Norwegian Wood in London and we began to explores the ways in which we could base a tapestry on one my woodcuts.

A: What was it that drew you to tapestry?
I have had my work translated to other mediums before and I have also collaborated with a Norwegian weaver. I like it when a new medium injects something new into the works. The processes of making a woodcut and a tapestry are pretty much polar opposites. I also enjoy working with traditional crafts and with people who offer skills that I do not have. I find working with them is an educational experience that expands my practice.

A: Norwegian Wood is inspired by jazz and your father’s musical history, how did you incorporate those influences into the work?
Norwegian Wood is inspired by my own musical coming of age and my own musical history. However, the first woodcuts I made back in the early 1990s were all about jazz and my father’s music. I found a direct link between jazz and the way I approached woodcut as a medium – conceptually as well as the fact that I am myself a musician, it just seemed to fit. I would say I found a way to write/perform jazz through the woodcuts.

A: The Glass Onion was commissioned by Dovecot and made in the studios, were you influenced by the studio and the surrounding area when putting the piece together?
Absolutely. I approached the collaboration without a fixed idea in mind. I made a new series of monotypes based on conversations I had with the weavers. Together, we selected the work that seemed to enthuse the weavers the most.

A: What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
I am currently working on a large ceramic sculpture park, consisting of a dozen large-scale sculptures up to 6 metres in height and a total of 30 tons of clay. The park is intended to define a new urban development in the Oslo area. I am also working on a 450 metre glass-painting as well as some more sculptures, variants of which will be shown at Dovecot for my exhibition. Other than that, a couple of music projects are taking up my time, among them is a new opera to be staged on the beautiful Norwegian opera house in 2018.

Magne Furuholmen: Peeling a Glass Onion, 6 March – 25 April, Dovecot Studios, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT.

1. Detail of Glass Onion, courtesy of Dovecot Studios and Magne Furuholmen.