This thesis challenged the conventional RGU curriculum for a masters’ architecture thesis. My aim was to achieve a deeper understanding and appreciation of the poetics and aura of the Norwegian landscape in which the location of my design is based through painting (this later developed into models and installations as well).
I already knew that painting had an immediacy that I craved for in architecture but could painting provide me with a more comprehensive understanding of sense of place, thus allowing me to develop a more meaningful design project. This was my thesis journey which consisted of:
26 paintings, 6 models, 1 installation, 2 research books on architects and artists and a written narrative essay on the influence painting has in architecture.
I’ve always said that if I wasn’t going to be an architect, I would be a painter. I remember starting my architectural education at university and having a big envy in my life – it’s about painters.
I’m fascinated with the moment of truth. There’s the canvas, it’s on your easel, you’ve got a brush and you’ve got that palette of colours and what do you do? What’s your first move? I love that dangerous place.
However, early on in my university studies, I began to question, – well why can’t there be a marriage between the two?
This lead me to question whether painting my sites surroundings would provide me with a greater understanding of the location, thus would this have allowed me to develop a more meaningful project to that previously designed?
This was my thesis journey.
Here are a few examples of my paintings and description that evoke my sense of place.
The aim in ‘Looking into the Fjord’ was not to just paint a pretty painting of our site. But to depict my interpretation of a hidden, secretive landscape, the poetics and aura that could provide a new sense of feeling to the site. I found it almost impossible just to depict the landscape. I was trying to find a parallel sense, painting what I feel, composing special relationships that are dependent on my experience, albeit through distant recollection.
As most of the residents in the area are avid hikers, they’ll know the excitement of catching a glimpse of a sunlit meadow through a dark forest, spotting a sliver of a grand vista just around the bend in the trail, or hearing the sound of waves against the foot of the mountain. Standing here it was doubtless because nature itself satisfied my need that I felt no particular lack of music in my everyday life.
Where the sea meets the land is an area that is constantly shifting and changing, and that is a fitting metaphor for our subjective experience and the overall theme for the need of our master plan.
When I came to complete this particular painting, I knew what was on the other side of the hills, and that is important to me. The hills are not simply a silhouette. It is a very dark piece of countryside that has been lost in the mist and has fallen down the scree. The landscape is a place of my memories there and of the memories of others.
Shaping the Void
I wanted to explore further the idea of mystery which featured within my paintings as well as provide the visitor with understanding of the poetics and aura of the landscape – shaping the void would hopefully be able to carry the visitor to my world – my understanding – my interpretation of Eidsvag.
It uses the simplest materials — plastic sheeting and black hot glue — to create a monumental, mountainous form that appears to float in space. The process involves draping plastic sheeting over stacked cardboard boxes, which are then removed to leave only their impressions.
At first glance, visitors will only see a large black cube, upon entering the cube the semi-translucent plastic sheeting to represent the mountain and wispy strands of hot glue to depict the mist and rain envelop the viewer in a fragile, tent-like enclosure speckled with inky black marks evoking a sense of mystery and to journey closer. Visitors can walk in and out of the contemplative space, observing how the simplest qualities of light, shape, and line change.