Interview with Elin Flognman
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Portrait with Mouth of wool and amber, part of the project 'Il Giardino Dei Potatis.'
Describe your art practice and your family dynamics:
I have my own company and do jewellery art, assignments and courses. My workplace is my own studio which is built into the house where I live with three children, two cats and a husband. Tell us a little more about how you developed your craftsmanship / making? It is an ongoing process where I explore everyday life and what binds us together. This has interested me since my education at HDK when I directed my interest towards ugly and nice and what it is that makes us feel sympathy for and want to take care of something. My master's thesis dealt with the boring and what can be found in it. I then got hooked on potatoes as a talking point for everyday life and the everyday and have worked with the potatoes' different values and angles since then. You are based in: Trollhättan
Have you lived or studied elsewhere: I have studied in Gothenburg. Has your place influenced you, your art practice, your perspective and your network: Moving from Gothenburg to Trollhättan during my education perhaps affected me more than I knew then. The house became like a hut to go to after the school days. The train journey between Gothenburg and Trollhättan gave me time to sketch, take notes and think. As a professional artist after my education, I have experienced negative aspects of being on the periphery and a bit away from galleries and contexts. The positive thing is that there are so many opportunities today to make your own contacts and initiatives. I have experienced it as a great freedom to be able to be where I want to be. What is your story about becoming a mother and has your attitude and methods changed since you became a parent:
For me, I was first a mother and my son was a year old when I entered the jewelry art education at HDK. He was in my stomach when I went preparatory and when I applied for the first time. After one semester I gave birth to my daughter and when I went to the first year of master's I had my youngest son. I therefore find it difficult to distinguish between what is artistic development and what is mother development. As many parents testify, motherhood became a changer of time and how much time there is to work on in one day. Going to an artistic education at the same time as I had children has taught me to use the time available and it is valuable. How has your background / upbringing affected you in your choice of profession / performance as a parent: I do not come from any artistic background. My parents are academics. But a broad cultural interest has always been present. What mainly influenced my choice of profession, I think, is rather a feeling of being capable and that anything is possible. A feeling I got from being independent early on, for better or worse.
What is your perception of the representation with female artists who combine their motherhood in the art world: As in other history writing, there is a lack of female representation in art historically. However, it is positive that today there are many initiatives that work to highlight "forgotten" female artists. One of them is MiR and the important work you do.
Motherhood is somewhat connected to the woman, which means that female stories or artistic expressions often talk about this, regardless of whether the artist himself is the mother or not. A woman is like a mother or not-mother. I find this interesting. Motherhood as a kind of ever-present factor. What advice would you give to new artists entering a motherhood: Take your work seriously. Motherhood has its prejudices and norms to fight with and against and so does the artistic profession. Many of these come from outside but a lot also come from ourselves. It is up to us to break the norms by living as we wish.
I realise that I myself am privileged to be able to work with my art even if it does not give me that much money and then it is my duty to take advantage of that privilege by taking my work seriously. What do you want to bring to the table within your art community / Do you miss any discussions, themes etc:
I can miss conversations about content, about art itself. Quite often, conversations revolve around corporate form, gallery activities, exhibitions or social media. The occasions when conversations can come closer and move about experiences or ideas and thoughts are more rare.
Maybe it is the case that these need a safe environment to emerge? A place where voices can take time and where it is okay to think differently. Can you describe a moment or a work of art that you think was a turning point in your career: I received an offer to work as an art teacher. At the same time, I had an exhibition that I needed to work on. I went home and counted on hours and realised that I would either work as an art teacher and not have time to get ready for the exhibition and therefore have to cancel it or say no to the job and instead work with what I am trained for and have my exhibition. Together with my husband, we did the family economics and came to the conclusion that I could say no and that we would still be able to manage financially.
I declined the job. After that, I decided to go to work between 8 and 5 like everyone else and take my artistic work seriously. I think this has influenced the whole family's view of what artistic work entails.
Do you have daily routines or rituals that help / get you into work mode? I am walking. Since I have a studio at home in the house, I feel good to go for a walk in an hour before I start working. It's like I have my workplace an hour's walk from where I live. Describe your studio / studio, do you have a private space to reflect and develop and implement ideas? My studio is furnished in a built-in garage. I do not have much space but it is my own space and lock on the door. For a while, I actually locked the door around myself while I was working. But then I realised that it can be good to be able to get in if something should happen to a machine or chemical or something. Do you have someone who inspires your art practice or reflects ideas with? I have a partner that I talk to a lot about ideas. It is a luxury to have someone whose opinions I value so closely, even if I do not always agree. I also find great inspiration in colleagues both in Sweden and abroad.
Most recently I have worked together with textile artist Pernilla Eskilsson and it has been very rewarding.
I find inspiration in the everyday and the bizarre situations that can appear in the mundane. There's a whole bunch of these situations when living with children so this makes my wonderful, weird and wacky children a great inspiration. (How) Has the pandemic changed your artistic practice:
Since I have previously traveled a lot and participated in fairs and exhibitions in Europe, it was a change. I have exhibited more in Sweden and it has been a lot of fun. It has been very good with the crisis support distributed by the artists' committee. How nice to live in a country where steps are taken to elevate cultural and artistic practitioners even if there is still a lot to do. In practical terms in my studio, my work has been greatly influenced. I was going on a scholarship trip to Italy and the Niki de Saint Phalles tarot garden in the spring of 2020. Unfortunately, that trip did not work out. I had charged myself up for a long time to go and did not want to let go of the thought so I worked on in the studio and started building my own garden (Il Giardino Dei Potato') as I dreamed that the experience of her garden could have been. Niki de Saint Phalle's courage inspired me to continue working with hope and without anxiety. Someday I will travel to the real garden and it will surely be a completely different experience. Can you see yourself as a mentor to another artist:
I have a bit of a problem with the term mentor and the power relationship that is embedded in it. I do not have any solutions or keys, but I like to meet other artists and talk to them.