Artist Interview: Pernilla Iggstrom

Banana (Interior Exterior), Oil on canvas, 165x120cm, 2019

Pernilla Iggstrom is a London based visual artist. Her paintings are the result of a process of investigation into her personal cultural heritage – a journey which explores the effect on her own identity of being born into one culture, then subsequently being adopted into another very different one thousands of miles away.

Pernilla’s personal story is at core, as it motivated her investigations into notions of identity in the first place, but there are also far reaching aspects to what she is saying that she wants to address. She hopes that her art will inspire the viewer to reflect on his or her own cultural heritage, increase the interest and awareness about him or herself and others, and thereby breaking down stereotypical impressions and pre-conceived ideas.

Mainly using source materials derived from her personal archive of family albums and her own photos of the environment, she explores both actual and imagined places (through the nature/nurture concept), where the relationships between the past and the present, the interior and the exterior, and the physical and the psychological are key.


Can you explain who you are and what do you do?
My name is Pernilla Iggstrom and I live and work in Brentwood, Essex, a 25 minute train ride from London, UK. I was born in South Korea but adopted by a Swedish couple when I was 8 months old. I grew up in peaceful 70s and 80s Sweden. Being adopted has always been a natural part of my life and I developed an interest in my heritage in my early teens. I am interested in languages and communication. I graduated from the gymnasium (the Swedish equivalent of college/high school) when I was 18 and took the Trans-Siberian Railway to Beijing in 1988 to study at Peking University.

That was my first time back in Asia and it was a life changing experience. After China, I studied and worked at a few different places and later on lived in Vietnam followed by Singapore for many years. I left the business environment and Singapore in 2007 to move to London to realise my dream of becoming an artist. I did a Foundation in Arts & Design at City & Guilds of London Art School followed by a BA (Hons) in Painting as a mature student which was deeply rewarding. I graduated in 2011 and have been a practising artist since then, showing regularly in art exhibitions.

After having worked in an art gallery and accounting, I now work part-time as a private carer which is very rewarding on every level. I was drawn to this job as I was in meeting people who are full of life experiences and who have lived through the many great world changes during the last 70 years. Listening to their stories is fascinating to say the least and they are so valuable. Spending time with my clients is also inspirational for my art.

Forest (Silhouette Series), Oil on canvas, 91.3 x 91.3cm, 2013


What themes do you pursue in your work?

Using my multicultural background as a spring board, I explore themes of nostalgia, heritage, nature/nurture, trauma, longing and belonging. Being Korean by birth, my exterior appearance is different from the ‘blonde, blue-eyed Swedish personality within, and cultural identity has become the main focus in my art practice. Although my work stems from my personal story, I also want it to be general and universal so the viewer can identify themselves partly or fully, based on their own personal story. There are also far reaching aspects to what I’m saying that I want to address – I wish to inspire the viewers to reflect on their own identity which can stimulate an increased awareness of the cultural identity of others. My aim is to help break down stereotypical and pre-conceived ideas. I am interested in people’s life stories and experiences which have made them who they are.


What role do you think artists have in society?

I believe there are several roles you can have as an artist. One is to only paint for your own wellbeing and pleasure. Another is to be a passionate art teacher spreading the pleasure of creating in a school or directly into the community through creative projects and events. Another is to convey a message close to your heart, whether it be a political or social stance or a subject matter that means a lot to you. Whatever the reason is for you to create, it will have a positive effect on society as a whole, like a ripple effect. The artist’ role in society is very important. Art is often seen as a less important subject in school and less valued in society. Although a combination of more traditional skills and a creative mindset is becoming more and more sought after in the job market in the near future.

Cultural Nomads, Oil on canvas, 57.5×45.5 cm, 2014

Can you describe a real life situation that inspired you to create?

After 16 years of working in Telecom and TV/Media while raising my two (step) sons in Singapore, I was desperate to create again and I wanted it to be more than a hobby. I started by learning silk painting/batik from a local lady but I’d been wanting to learn oil painting for a long time and started to take lessons from an Australian artist, Lydia Miller, once a week. It was a new world that opened up and I fell in love with oil painting. When my sons were in their late teens, I moved to London on my own to finally pursue an education in fine art. It felt fantastic to be able to focus on something just for me that I loved. I sent 4 years in art education – I worked hard and was inspired to be surrounded by like minded, amazing art tutors and students who studied sculpture, stone or wood carving and art conservation. I thrived being in multicultural London with its fantastic plethora of art and exhibitions.


Why art? What does creative work give to you?

I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. I remember drawing in a mail order catalogue while my mum was feeding me when I was a toddler. I was creating and drawing throughout my childhood. My favourite subject in school was Art and I was always happy when I was creating. Art is an expressive language which can be used to convey our inner feelings and thoughts whilst still allowing the viewers to interpret it the way they wish to. There is no right or wrong when it comes to art, it has a value in itself. I am a member of a few London based art groups such as ArtCan.org and Chrom-Art which are very genuine and immensely supportive. They are truly there to lift us emerging and upcoming artists up and give us a platform to create. I am co-curating a booth, “Fabrication of Self” (@fabricationofself on IG), for a group of 8 ArtCan artists at Stockholm Art Supermarket 2020 (which has now been postponed till 2021). My co-curator and I have more or less free rein to create a stand based on the Supermarket theme of 2020, which is “Fabrication”. The faith and support from ArtCan and its founder Kate Enters has been phenomenal. Art makes me happy and I am in my right element when surrounded by it and emerged in it.

Would you say that you have an artistic outlook on life?

I am a very organised person and having worked in the office environment for many years, I am methodical and practical. I’d say that I am in the middle of the spectrum being able to use my common sense and logical thinking mixed with a more creative approach. I often see colour in nature and my environment that I photograph as a note for later and I believe that happiness is key in life and balance is good to strive for in most things.

The Red Ladder, Oil masking tape tracing paper resin on canvas, 57.5×45.5cm, 2014


What inspires you?

Apart from my cultural heritage and having lived overseas in different cultures for over 24 years, I’d say that nature and contemporary artist’ work on Instagram are the main sources of inspiration for me. Meaningful conversations and people’s life stories also inspire ne immensely as I value learning from others. I want to gain life experience – to understand different life situations that can enrich me and broaden my horizon and hopefully make me a better person.


What would be your dream project?

A big multi-disciplinary exhibition with cross-collaborations, and talks and classes by specialist in their field on identity in general, cultural identity in particular. I have planned it for years. The aim is to spread creativity as well as knowledge and tolerance in society about people from all cultures and traditions.

The Space In between Spaces (Cultural Nomads), Oil on board, 52×40.5cm, 2019

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

To not compare yourself with others but only with yourself and not worry if you don’t create for a period of time. Also, that even moments of not painting are important parts of the whole process of creativity.


Do you think an artist needs an ultimate goal in his/her work? If so, what yours? 

I think a vision, a dream or aim is something that will keep that special hunger to express yourself alive but I do not think you have to have a goal in order to create in general. Perhaps the goal is the joy of creating, as a pleasure or an outlet. In me case, I am very passionate about my subject matter cultural identity and what it means in today’s society, how we can investigate it and use it to stimulate to conversations, and to built bridges between cultures and classes in order to bring us all together. For me art is inclusive and there for everyone. You should not have to have an art history degree in order to feel entitled to create or visit an art gallery. I have also seen parents tell their children off if their drawing doesn’t look realistic or render an object “correctly”. It hurts me to see someone with plenty of imagination and joy for creating perhaps permanently abandon this important outlet due to a comment. Art is there for everyone.


What could you not live without as an artist?

Oil paint and certain mediums such as Roberson’s glaze medium and liquin and beautiful brushes.

Pernilla Iggstrom in front of her painting “Untitled (Purple and Beige)”.

Where to follow Pernilla Iggstrom:

INSTAGRAM : https://www.instagram.com/pernillaiggstrom/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pernilla.iggstromartist/

WEBSITE: http://pernillaiggstrom.com/

Artist Interview: Chin We

From the series IFE NKIL, “Ife nkili” means “come and see, come and see beauty”

When I first saw Chin We’s work in photography exhibition in London it captivated my imagination. People looking through the lens looked peaceful and content, still, all of them had layers that told a deeper story about the subjects’ lives. This made me return to the photos and wanting to see more about what they hid within them.

Chin We is an award winning visual artist and documentary photographer. She was born in Manchester, England and spent her formative years in Nsukka, Eastern Nigeria and adolescent years in London, England. She is fascinated by humans, portraiture, capturing people’s essence and visual storytelling. Her work explores themes of identity, culture, representation, heritage and the African diaspora. Her photography also champions, empowers and celebrates contemporary African culture and the African identity.

Chin We is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts.  Her work has been published on CNN and several other publications. She was featured on CNN as one of the leading African heroine women photographers, nominated for RPS 100 heroines by the Royal Photographic Society England and won an honourable mention award in the People-Portrait Category in International Photography Awards(IPA) 2018.


Can you explain who you are and what do you do?


I am a Visual Artist, Art and documentary Photographer based in London.


What themes do you pursue in your work?

My work explores themes of identity, culture, representation, heritage and the African diaspora. My photography also champions, empowers and celebrates contemporary African culture and the African identity.


What role do you think artists have in society?

I think the role artists have on society Is dependent on the artist’s subject matter. An artist can provoke, uplift or lead with their work. Artist provides society with history, emotions, rage, colour, texture. 

From the series IFE NKIL, “Ife nkili” means “come and see, come and see beauty”


Can you describe a real life situation that inspired you to create?

My culture and heritage inspired me to create. The beautiful people of the African continent that I always see when I travel to the motherland. Also great photography by African Photographers in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s inspires me. 


Why art? What does creative work give to you?

Art is free expression of human mind and senses. Creative work lifts up my emotions and spirits.

From the series IFE NKIL, “Ife nkili” means “come and see, come and see beauty”


Would you say that you have an artistic outlook on life?

Oh Yes! Artists have structurally different brains compared with non artists. 


What inspires you?

People inspire me. I love shooting people and telling stories. I am a documentary photographer at heart. 


What would be your dream project?

My dream project would be to travel to the 54 countries in Africa and document the various tribes, culture and heritage.

Untitled


What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

As a photographer! Just go out and shoot! Continue learning, read about other photographers that are in your theme of work. There are so many learning materials on the internet. Lastly! Go out and shoot!

Do you think an artist needs an ultimate goal in his/her work? If so, what yours?

For me personally, the ultimate goal is to be happy, focus on my craft and continue being passionate about my work.


What could you not live without as an artist?

My Camera, phone and note pad.

Self-portrait Chin We

Where to follow Chin We:

INSTAGRAM : https://www.instagram.com/chinwe.me/

WEBSITE: http://chinwe.me/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/chinw_e

Artist Interview: Kira Phoenix K’inan

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I’m so excited to start this blog with a fascinating London-based artist and designer Kira Phoenix K’inan. Her work brings together fine art and craft through glass sculptures, works on paper, installations and multi-exposure photography.

K’inan finds interest in deconstructing the familiar, and through different creative processes, she is able to  abstract the form and develop something entirely new. She finds drawing her main method of expression, where the line as we know it is usually a linker form that follows an axis with a consistent trajectory.  She creates abstract drawings inspired by her surroundings and explores the occurring interconnections.

She completed her MA studies at the Glass and Ceramics Department at the Royal College of Art, where she explored traditional glass techniques, and translated them into a contemporary series of glass sculptures. She has developed a unique technique of low relief drawing, the Relief Drawing Technique, where she carves directly into a plaster sheet and casts the piece using fine ground glass.

K’inan has done two residencies in Stockholm and Edinburgh, and has exhibited globally, a particular highlight being Emerge Bullseye 2018 and being shortlisted for the Ashurst Emerging Artists Prize in 2019.


Can you explain who you are and what do you do?

I am a mixie, third culture kid, born in Hong Kong and have lived in Singapore. I have continued to draw inspiration from these experiences and used them  to create glass sculptures, works on paper and photographs. I also work as a one to one tutor, with special focus on supporting students with learning differences. 

What themes do you pursue in your work?

My work explores the transitory nature of emotions, the deconstruction of what drawing can be and how we translate the two dimensional into the three dimensional. 

What role do you think artists have in society?

The artists role is very important as we can shine a light on issues that need to be discussed, or in times of crisis can bring much needed beauty into the world. Art also allows for the person to reconnect to the tactility of material. 

Oort Clouds, Small Yellow 2-1

Can you describe a real life situation that inspired you to create?

I have had several instances in my life that have given me the extra emotional charge to create new work. In the current climate I have found that creating new work has allowed me to process the emotional roller coaster and uncertainty we are all living through.

Why art? What does creative work give to you?

Being an artist allows me to express myself without words and has become a way to mediate. I also enjoying making work that can look beautiful, but on closer inspection can be challenging due to the works fragility or the realisation that it is a little more sharp around the edges. 

Would you say that you have an artistic outlook on life?

From all I have experienced, I like to find the meaning that resonates or use the situation to learn more about myself. 

Kira Phoenix K’inan

What inspires you?

I find a lot of inspiration from the natural world, or from deconstructing the familiar through abstraction.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?

The best piece of advice I would give is to take a business course alongside your creative courses. This will give you a clear understanding of how to run your company professionally and give you the confidence to handle many of the unexpected situations that come your way. I would also make sure you have a licensed lawyer look over any contracts before you sign them. 

Circle Glass Drawing, 60x60cm, 2015

Do you think an artist needs an ultimate goal in his/her work? If so, what yours?

I set myself goals, but what I have learnt over the years is not to expect too much from one experience and to be open to opportunities that come out of left field. Allow opportunities to come, see them for what they are, and when they have passed, stay open for new ones. 

What could you not live without as an artist?

My watercolor pallet, paper and brushes. Most of my ideas start with creating works on paper. 


Where to follow Kira Phoenix K’inan:

WEBSITE : www.kpkinanglass.com

FACEBOOK : www.facebook.com/KPKinan 

INSTAGRAM : www.instagram.com/kpkinanglass/ 

TWITTER : www.twitter.com/KPK_inan