We met Sanna Nilsson from Ovrebruket the first time at Formex, the Swedish design fair in Stockholm, where she had a booth with her lovely jewelry. The ideas are humorous and have a message beyond what you see at first glance. We asked her a few questions about her work and art.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I've always loved to create. As a child, I drew and painted almost every day. My parents were painting and exhibiting nature paintings in watercolor so creating was a part of the ordinary life at home. I also loved small details and I worked a lot with clay and made jewelry of that mixed with pearls. When I was 16, I participated in an art exchange with young people from the north of Russia. That exchange gave me a lot and it was interesting to meet people of my own age through art.
Art and design leads you to a lot of special meetings with other people, and it gives you a chance to come closer to each other and listen to thoughts and fantasies in close-up. It’s truly unique, and something I really like.
I studied art at high school and after that half a year of art history, and then one year in an art school called Gerlesborg in Bohuslän. In the summer of 2014, I went to Denmark and participated in a short course of jewelry design. It was great and after that, I started to work more and more with jewelry which leads to starting my company Ovrebruket. I participated in fairs and markets and realized that I could sell my jewelry in another way than art at an exhibition. It was much easier. Meeting people at the markets were also really inspiring.
But I haven't abandoned the art and ink drawings yet, I have exhibitions a couple of times each year. When I create my ink drawings, I have a strong feeling or memory that I must express. Drawing is dear to me. Creating jewelry is more of interesting research where I try to transform the value and all the details of nature.
I am comfortable working with both art and design. I've never liked to put different expressions in different categories. The important thing is that the force of expression has a big space to fill.
How is it to be an artist in Umeå?
Since I work both with design and art, which is two different worlds, it gives me a bigger area to show my work. I haven't got a degree in higher studies of art or design so I don't have the key to the more famous arenas for art and design. I like to work alone so my contact with the galleries and art- and design institutions aren't so frequent. If I see a chance to exhibit, I take it. Small or big doesn't matter. When you live in a pretty small place you have to act like that to survive, just say yes to all the opportunities.
What do you try to achieve with the work you create?
I want people to take the time to look at them and start to think about the value of nature. We are living in a stressful society and time to reflect and really look into details doesn´t have a big area. I also draw detailed ink drawings.
How come Ovrebruket, what´s the story behind?
I and my partner live there in a small cottage in Övre Bruket that I inherited from my grandfather. I took that name and transformed it into Ovrebruket, which became the name of my company.
How do you get in the right “creative mode” – what does your happy place look like?
When I'm free to do whatever I want, have a lot of materials, time and no one who disturbs my mind. My process is always a bit chaotic and I never know exactly where I'm going.
It's interesting and frightening at the same time. But I love the chaos of creativity where anything can happen.
What does your craft space look like?
I have a good workshop where I live. It is not so clean and tidy so you can just go crazy with your creativity.
If I would like to get going with my creativity, what's your advice?
Don't be afraid to test new technics. Just start the adventure, mix and match materials and go with the flow.
Please share your top sources of inspiration
Sometimes I can hear a special meaning on the radio or something that someone just saying and then create it to a piece of art. I talked with my dad last winter and he told me that if it´s really cold outside you can always hide in an ant’s nest. That sounded so crazy and then I created an ink drawing of the phrase. I called it “The society”.
What are your plans for the future?
Just continue working with my jewelry and drawings. My goal is to create jewelry and art from all the plants and animals in the whole world. I know that it is impossible but it´s a good goal anyway.
I want to make jewelry from the plants and animals that aren't so popular but are important in the ecosystem. I think they are like “underdogs”. I have already made wasp nests, ant nests, and bats.
Thanks for the interview, Sanna. We keep following you and are curious to see what animal you make art of next.
Photos: Wasp's nest: Lars-Eric Fjellvind All other photos: Sanna Nilsson.