The first time Sibylle and I “met” was in a closed art group on Facebook. One day I noted in one of her comments that Sibylle lives in Stockholm, Sweden. I too live in Sweden but in a different part. I live in the country about 25 km from Karlstad which is less than three hours away from Stockholm by train. On 27 June 2015, I took direct contact with her via Facebook messenger and we began to correspond with each other now and then.
We began our on-line friendship by introducing ourselves and where we live. From then on we began talking about our art, courses we had done, where we wanted to go with it, and so on. We began sharing our work and tips and tricks we each thought the other would find interesting.
When I began studying with OCA, I wrote and told Sybille about it and shared my blog address with her. She has been a constant supporter! Soon after Sibylle also began studying with OCA and now she too has a blog that I follow.
By that time I had done drawing courses here in town getting more and more frustrated over the lack of courses above beginner’s level. Hearing about OCA was exactly what I needed. I loved Gwenyth’s blog and the way she reflected over her work and the exercises. Last autumn I enrolled with the OCA myself. It is perfect. The only thing I regret as an overseas student is missing out on the study visits.
Towards the end of 2015 we began to talk about meeting “in real time”. This was truly an international meeting. I come from new Zealand but live in Sweden. Sibylle comes from Switzerland and lives in Sweden. We both study by distance from OCA which is based in England. Now at last in April 2017, we met in Stockholm and visited the beautiful Artipelag outside Stockholm.
We met at the central station in Stockholm and headed off to a coffee shop for breakfast. Despite the difference in our ages, one of us is the same age as the daughter of the other, we found that our common interest in art was enough for us to get chatting. It was as if we had known each other all our lives.
After breakfast we took the bus to Värmdö and Artipelag. The name Artipelag is a combination of Art, Activities, and Archipelago. There we saw an amazing exhibition with Edmund de Waal and Giorgio Morandi. Here, the contemporary British ceramicist and author meets the renowned Italian painter, whose oeuvre largely consists of still life paintings of pottery. You can read about the exhibition here.
Neither of us had seen Edmund de Waal or Morandi’s work before. We had of course done some research before the visit to the exhibition. Armed with cameras, notebooks and a guide book, we walked around the exhibition by ourselves. There was a lot of “wow, look at this!” going on from both of us! It was wonderful to be able to share this with each other.
I always enjoy going to exhibitions with someone. Sharing thoughts and ideas is so rewarding. The other’s thoughts widen my own ideas in a way I could not do on my own. The exhibition suddenly grows. Doing this with a fellow art student is even better! We observed light and shadow, shapes and still life set-ups, we studied hatching, colour ranges and lines, we made connections between the artists, to ourselves and to our exercises. Our questions and discussions triggered new insights and ideas to try out back in our own studios.
Time went so quickly and suddenly it was lunch. The whole atmosphere at Artipelag oozes beauty and taste. For example, up through the floor of the Café & Buffe restaurant where we ate lunch rises a huge rock, or “båda” in local archipelago-speak. It consists of metamorphic Gneiss rock originating about 2 billion years ago.During the last Ice Age 110´000 to 11’000 years ago Bådan was eroded to its current rounded shape. When the glaciers retreated, the ground began to rise, resulting in nature’s own artwork, Bådan, emerging out of the sea circa 1,000 BC. Bådan sticks up through the floor which has been built around it.
After lunch we joined a short guided tour through the exhibition. This brought our attention to things we had missed. Looking back we wished that we had thought to get an audio-guide.
It was great to meet an OCA companion. We recommend making the effort to make contact with other students in your area. We live about three hours travelling from each other and we have already booked in our next meeting. It will be in the Swedish Autumn. Our plan is to both take a train and meet up in Gothenburg where we will visit the Gothenbug Art Museum.
Photo 1: Gwenyth and Sibylle outside Artipelag
Photo 2: Bådan sticking up through the floor in the Cafe