This text describes the course of my artistic process over a period of nearly two and a half years. It started with that I invited the Swedish artist Börje Lindberg to make his portrait and became a project that I framed as artistic research as I took my second course Artistic Research at Konstfack in Stockholm. In the beginning I had quite a clear vision of this project and text but soon it started to meander, becoming more and more complex as time past by and other projects appeared, thence forming a comprehensive overview of my artistic process.

My main objective for this project became a question of how to renew my process and to find new artistic paths. For years I have used a working method of referential appropriation combined with mimesis, as I used photographs from archives as a basis for making conceptual narrative sculpture, contextualised in various settings and themes. As the contextualisation of my series changed, my method of appropriation did not. So, even if my series have a wide scope of different attitudes and topics, resorting under the common denominator of human vulnerability, these series came about through appropriation of the works of others, i.e. foremost photographs of unknown photographers from archives. My intention to make a wooden sculpture based on a clay model, as I did last month, can be seen as a metaphor for how I have perceived my work in the last years: making sculpture on a given theme, based on pictures and mimesis as working method, transforming one material (photographs) into another (sculpture). But I am doing myself an injustice if I narrow it down to this extent, since my method of referential appropriation and contextual framing enabled me to make conceptually clear bodies of works
which I consider to hold onto for yearsmeanwhile I could refine my technical skills and maintain my mental stability. The downside however is a hint of a habitual and entrenched working process that I reiterate to feel safe. Through this reiteration I experience artistic blocks and I would like to challenge myself to release them.

During my working with Börje Lindberg I pondered over the application of sketching as a method and later in this project I worked more elaborately with sketches in order to decide in which direction I should turn for making BIG HEAD. I discussed the meaning of sketching in my work and found that if I start with a preconceived idea and try to work 'freestyle', the chance for something radically new is quite small. Preconceived ideas call forth a mindset that is very difficult to get around. Only if I can dismiss them is there a possibility for something new to happen. Hence, I cannot force myself into new ways of working and neither can I anticipate it—the break-through with BIG HEAD was unanticipated—I can only create space for things to happen and be on my guard for signs of ignoring my artistic intuition.

Appropriation is like mimesis an artistic strategy used by many artists.

My sculptures come about through appropriation and mimesis, and are thereby referential to an outer world. In contrast, my drawings are introspective and non-referential, they come about through meditation and an intuitive internal seeing. In my text "Rationality, Intuition and Emotion, exploring an artistic process", that is published in the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR3), I have articulated the relations between my drawings and sculptures. I would like these two worlds to meet, which could be a topic for further exploration.  

A major part of this text goes to my drawings, which come about through an intuitive internal seeing. In this I feel inspired by and a kinship to Agnes Martin who says that she has turned her back to the world. I don't always go as far as Martin in my drawings, as they at times have a clear reference to the horizon and sky for example, while others are non-referential to a visual outer world. An example of this kind of non-referential drawing that I have in mind can be seen in a series that I call "Människans dagar". ("The Life of Mortals ... is Like Grass"
Psalm 103:15) (pictures) These drawings are diffused in their content through deliberate and explicit minimalism.

I suspect that the conceptual framing that I use for my sculptures provokes artistic blocks and gives rise to a specific reading of my work. Therefor I would like to diffuse the attitude that I have towards my sculpture, using a more intuitive seeing to replace strict mimesis. A new way for committing sculpture could be to make portraits by heart, as I did for my commission for Trelleborgs Museum (picture) in order to find new ways of artistic articulation. This too could be a topic for further exploration.

Even though I had an artistic break-trough during this project by making BIG HEAD, a sculpture in a different technique and expression, a new working method is far from consolidated. Furthermore, I have to learn to accept and appreciate that changes in my process come very slowly.

At first I framed this project as artistic research (or research with artistic means), but during its course, I realised that for me the core lies in a writing that offers a complementary articulation of my work, in addition to my drawing and sculpture. Through my involvement with this project, writing has shown to be an additional channel in which I express myself artistically, meanwhile I gain knowledge about my process.  

This text ends up being a condensed. As I started condensed, it expanded and meandered over my process whilst forming it. As I use intuitive internal seeing for my drawings, I used introspection to conceive this text, resulting in a very slow process that reached over years, creating new paths and loose threads of which some are discarded, while others have lead to new beginnings. At some point I considered discarding this whole project as I was loosing focus, but I gathered enough energy to continue, to push my journals beyond this point and developed this text into a complete essay.

This project has started with a longing for something new, it carried me through different attitudes and methods, making me realise that I fear to let go, to lose track and derail. I want to reach for a new breath, a renewal of my process that has a breath of my own. Moving away from my method of appropriation might be a good first step to unleashing my artistic blocks.

"Is it ultimately a question of self-image that determining idea one has made for oneself of what has to be accomplished and experienced so that one can approve the life one has lived?" (Amadeu de Prado in Night Train to Lisbon)

Januari 2016

Thanks to Adrienne Riseley
for proofreading this text, and to Eskil Fagerström, Helena Hildur, Agnieszka Knap and Karin Voogd for giving me valuable input.


• Billie August, Night Train to Lisbon, 2014, movie after a book of Pascal Mercier.

• Berlinde De Bruyckere & J.M. Coetzee, Kreupelhout — Cripplewood, Venice Biennale 2013 — publication: Mercatorfonds, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2013

• Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter, Routledge, New York, 1993

Christove van Eecke, Gueules cassées, Kleine fenomenologie van de frontsoldaat.

(, accessed 20150815)

• Gert Germeraad, Rationality, Intuition and Emotion, exploring an artistic process, 2013, Journal for Artistic Research - JAR3. (

• Gert Germeraad, Self Portrait Battered, 2011 


• France Guwy, De ander in ons, Uitgeverij SUN, Amsterdam, 2008: 89-90

• Mika Hannula, Artistic Research - theories, methods and practices, ArtMonitor, Gothenburg, Helsinki, 2005

Agnes Martin in interview with Chuck Smith and Sono Kuwayama

november 1997, 1'15" (, accessed 20150911)

Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart, Vintage Books, London, 2001.


• Psalm 103:15


Tino Segal, These Associations at Tate Modern London, 2012


• Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Pinguin Books, London, 2003.

Interview of Aaron Schuman with Jem Southam, Seesaw Magazine, February 2005.

( accessed 20160130)

Tate Modern Channel: What Makes an Artist? Sarah Thornton in conversation with Grayson. - 33'15"

(  - 33'15", accessed 20151208)

• Sarah Thornton, 33 artist in 3 acts, Granta Publications, London, 2014





page 1: Introduction

page 2: Meetings with Börje Lindberg

page 3: Intermezzo

page 4: Back to my project

page 5: Conclusion and References

Människans Dagar | The Life of Mortals

charcoal on board, 2014, 144 x 144 cm

Man from the Stone Age

Collection Trelleborgs Museum

ceramic and pigment, 2014, life-size

Människans dagar, detail.