Sunday, April 08, 2012

studio visit: Tina Frausin

It’s a sunny spring day when I jump on my bike to visit Tina Frausin in Studio Agnes. Tina Frausin is just back from Småland where she has been preparing for giving a glass-casting course. Just before that she was in India for a month to explore the possibilities to get something cast in bronze there. Tina started out as a glass artist but nowadays her artistic focus lies on the possibilities and expressions of materials in a wider definition. Tina Frausin’s studio is situated in the basement of an apartment building on Hisingen in Gothenburg. Hisingen is industries and suburbs, but not the fancy sort of suburb. It has a history of insecurity, gangs and burning cars. Nowadays it has gotten calmer and they are constructing new apartment buildings here, but it is still not the part of town you show the tourists. 

 - How long have you been in this studio and how big is it? 

- Since 2004, which makes it 8 years. Studio Agnes, as we call it, is 140 m2 and contains several rooms. I share this working space with two other artists Ida-Lovisa Rudolfsson and Jenny Skrufserud.

In Studio Agnes there is a small room for preparing wax/casting, a small room with a glass kiln and a common room for working on bigger projects. In addition there are two storages, kitchen, lunchroom and then the three artists have their own rooms. 

 - What kind of studios have you had before? 

- In 2002/2003 when moving back to Sweden after finishing my education, I ended up in Gothenburg. I didn’t know the town well at all and got a very small studio together with a ceramic artist. I had just one small room, like 10 m2 and the rent was higher than what I pay here. I wasn’t very pleased with it. It was tricky for me to get there and also far. Besides there were these not very practical stairs … as I’m working with glass and I had to carry my heavy and fragile material up and down.

- And then you found this studio? 

- Yes, I wanted something better and started to look for a studio together with Jenny who I knew from my glass education in Bornholm, Denmark. This studio is a basement and had once been housing a security company, but when we looked at it five folk high school students were renting the premises and had painted it in all the colours of the rainbow. Each room was in a strong colour representing the person situating it; yellow, purple, red …
 Jenny and I thought that ...
maybe it wasn’t in the area we had thought would be the one for us and ...
maybe not the kind of premises we had imagined  - but ...
it seemed ok and not that expensive…
 and it worked out fine!

- What is the best with this studio? 

- It doesn’t even take me 5 minutes to ride my bike here. Also for me, it is great, because I work with all these different kind of materials – in my former studio it was difficult to even get hold of a screw … that’s what so great with having a studio here – you can find a sand blasting firm, industrial coating, retails stores (like home improvement) and more on walking distance, or just a few minutes bike ride. There are all these small industries here in this area. But at the same time Studio Agnes is still in a residential area and it is just wonderful that on a nice day I can take out a table on the lawn, next to our door, and work outside. Not that I can leave things unattended … but I can work calmly.

- Do you wish something were different with your studio? Is there something not working? 

- Haha … the low ceiling… I can stand on a small step and reach the ceiling! Also I’ve had this studio for so long now and it is like it has grown into what it can be, matured – and I wouldn’t say there is much that can be improved further - it is ready. I feel happy when I come here and it is cosy. But sometimes I feel it might be time to change studio – could it be that the grass is greener on the other side? … I’m especially dreaming of big windows and a high ceiling. I’m feeling that my art pieces are rapidly growing in size. I’m working with these weird kind of sculptures, many of them hanging from the ceiling.

The entrance to Tina's room

 - Maybe you need a barn? 

- Yes, a modified barn with huge windows and hoist in the ceiling! Because there are certain limitations for me here in the studio. But it depends on how you work, of course; it’s perfect for sketching, making models and working on ideas.

- Do you also work on your administration and on your computer here? 

- I used to, but I took the computer away as it became a big time thief. So much time is needed for paper work and computer and it is so easy that it takes too much time. When I had my computer here I couldn’t concentrate on being creative in the same way, not the studio creativity way. Nowadays I have a small portable computer here functioning only as a “radio” or for checking occasional e-mail. I have my office at home which has made it so much easier for me to divide my work. For example I try to decide – especially when there are several commissions to apply for - like now – this week I will work on administration for three days. I don’t come here to the studio at all then; instead I concentrate on that task. This way I become more effective as I can decide that the other two days I don’t even have to look at the computer – and instead concentrate on the practical - hands on - work in the studio. But it all depends on what deadlines I’m working towards, of course. If it is an exhibition I could very well just spend several weeks only here in my studio and nothing in front of the computer!

- If you could dream – how would you like to divide your time then? Intense concentrated creative studio time for some months – followed by concentrated administrative periods? 

- That is an impossibility – administration also means applying for getting to make commissioned public art and applying for grants etc; uploading images, filling forms and writing ideas … if I would to ignore that for like three months I would loose the flow in my business … You can NOT choose that.

- Do you ever feel lonely here in your studio? 

- Yes. Jenny is almost never here since the very beginning. Actually you could say we are only two people actively working here. Ida-Lovisa works here a lot, but unfortunately it’s like we have different schedules as she’s following the school hours, being a mother. Sometimes we are here at the same time, but not very often. I long for having colleagues just for taking a coffee break together. Because something can happen when exchanging some casual words with another artist, something that won’t happen when you are sitting there all alone. You could just throw out some ideas and share some thoughts that might lead somewhere – I feel I miss that exchange … or to just to be able to ask for an opinion and get some feedback when you need it…


One Saturday when I was visiting an opening at Konstepidemin I was thinking Oh here, here, I should have a studio here - to be in a context, where they help each other .. not in a basement on Hisingen where people think who are those weird people in the basement …  [Konstepidemin, or Epidemic of Art, houses studio space for more than 100 artists. Located in the former epidemic hospital are also galleries, a restaurant and more. See art events and happenings on their blog] But then I had a coffee with one of the artist exhibiting there and she told me she had just got her studio to herself – alone - and she was so very happy about that.. And then we talked about the artistic context there – but it turned out that there were other downsides and not everything was as fantastic as I had imagined. Greener grass…? There's something positive and negative with everything!

- What are you working on right now? 

- I’m working on my project “Knitted Monumental Sculptures” which I got financed by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee last year. So I’m knitting in metal and I also get knitted some things for me at the textile university in Borås - Actually I have just mounted the first model – but I’m not totally pleased with it though … And then I just learned the other day that I got this big public commission for a Theatre!

Tina just bought this old knitting machine
some of the first sketches for Tina's hanging sculptures. These are in textile though.
the first model in metal, knitted by the Textile University in Borås

- Do you have the time for all this … I know you have some exhibitions coming up too? 

- That’s a good question … haha … I have a lot of things going on… By june I should have finished an embroidered fence for a sculpture park exhibition. This is an idea I’ve had for two years now and I’m very happy to get the opportunity to see it through. And then, also in June, I participate in a group exhibition together with some artists who I went to India with last year; it’s a travelling exhibition. Then I have two parallel exhibitions in October – both separate exhibitions. One is to present the knitted sculpture project, the other exhibition will be totally different with tufted rugs and glass. It is true that it became a bit much, like an avalanche … you know, you apply for so much and then … then you suddenly get more than you thought. But I shouldn’t complain … there will come some totally quiet times again, for sure …

One of the windows of Studio Agnes


K R I S T I I N A said...

what a wonderful artist!!!
love all bits and bobs in her studio.

Satsuki said...

Great interview ! I love to see the places where artists work and ideas are born.