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Six of the Best, Part 24: Svava Thordis Juliusson

Part 24 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity  (previous interviews: 123456789101112, 13, 141516171819202122, 23). Svava Thordis Juliusson is a Canadian artist who takes unprepossessing objects, and makes them into installations and sculptures that magically discover their hidden sensuous capacities. You can see her a picture of her studio, too, at the art blog Hyperallergic.

"Avalanche (white)"

PH: What medium do you chiefly use, and why?

STJ: Since 2008, I have been working primarily with materials that are composed of plastic, various sizes and colors of cable ties, clothing tags, fencing and found plastic. 

The cable tie - an ordinary, utilitarian object - was the original catalyst and soon after it became the building block for constructing singular objects and/or for connecting one thing to another within installations. Because the material, in its original context, is not precious, I approach making the objects and installations in a direct and intuitive way. It’s sort of like drawing with my eyes closed, or drawing with my body. And though I have an idea/concept of what I want the work to look like, I can allow the material to dictate or guide the process until the right shape, or a narrative that makes sense, emerges. 

PHWhat piece are you currently working on?

STJ: I’m actually working out some ideas in aluminum - another abundant and ubiquitous material. It’s the start of a project/investigation, which draws from scientific graphs, charts and mythological narratives around earthquakes. 

"Install B"
PHWhat creative surprises are happening in the current work?

STJ: I am surprised by how great it is to come back to working with metal. It’s shiny - said the gold fish - and immensely satisfying to manipulate. I started my formal education as a jeweler, so the process, the material and its potential is familiar.

PHWhat other artistic medium (or non-artistic activity) feeds your creative process?

STJ: Reading, attending openings, going to the theatre and surrounding myself with other artists talking about art, feeds, not so much my process, but my need for an aesthetic experience. Sitting in my office at home or in the studio looking out the window, walking, taking long baths and/or doing laundry helps me focus and direct my energy on my work.

"Aluminum" (work in progress)
PHWhat's the first ever piece of art you remember making?

STJ: It was a pencil drawing of a scene from Chaucer on a 4 x 6 piece of drywall for a grade 11 English class project. Our teacher asked us to respond to the text in whatever way we wanted, so I drew. It was awkward and provisional but I do remember feeling confident and very happy to display it.

PHFinally, and you can answer this in any way you want: why are you an artist?

STJ: I honestly don’t know what else I would be. I am compelled to make stuff, to examine my environment and respond to it, critically and aesthetically.

If you liked this interview, and you'd like to keep up to date with the series, why not Subscribe, or sign-up via Google Connect, using one of the options over on the right? Thanks, and keep creating.

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