In 2018 we had a workshop with the teachers and students at Skien High School, and one of the ideas was to create an outdoor classroom and a Pyro Lab at Klosterøya. In the Pyro Lab we can experiment with fire, explosives and with melting different materials. The floor and the heart of the Pyro Lab will be composed of a mosaic of melted rocks created by the students over the years. (To be continued …)

Rock melting and photos by Kåre Høyer 2018

Co-creators: Mads Pålsrud, Tabea Glahs & Astrid Fadnes / Growlab Oslo,
Elin T. Sørensen, Kåre Høyer and the students at Skien High School ...

June 2020 we had a new workshop. You can se our preliminary masterplan for the PYRO LAB via this link

In 2017 we dug a hole in the ground at Klosterøya, Skien in Telemark County. We did it to scratch the surface, and start a dialogue with the place, the landscape, the geology, the people. What we found was a meeting point between to geological epochs. (To be continued …)

Photo by Elin T. Sørensen © BONO September 18, 2017

Co-creators: Mads Pålsrud & Tabea Glahs / Growlab Oslo & Elin T. Sørensen

In September 2020 we will arrange the pyro-event Gestures of Fire led by archeologist and anthropologist Professor Dr. Dragoş Gheorghiu with team (University of Arts, Bucharest) and the teachers and students at Skien High School. Together we will build two kilns, one for firing ceramics and the other for melting metals. (To be continued …)

The flue covered with tiles. Inside the kiln the ceramic vases become transparent at 950 °C. Photo © Dragoş Gheorghiu. Read more:

Co-creators: Dragoş Gheorghiu with team: Ms. Mihaela Moraianu, visual artist / photographer / PhD-fellow and M. Florentin Sirbu, ceramicist / PhD-fellow, Geir Harald Samuelsen, Mads Pålsrud / Growlab Oslo, Elin T. Sørensen, Kåre Høyer, Jens I. Klungseth and the students at Skien High School ...

Mail dated 20th of April, 2020

Dear all, thank you so much for the inspiring meeting today, none the least thank you Dragos for joining the team. We are all honoured that you wish to participate, and very enthusiastic about your input. Geir Harald, we include you in the loop to keep you updated. Mads & I made an overview of the topics discussed. First we agreed upon building/creating two different kilns; One for ceramics and one for iron/metals. The aim is to look into material culture and processes in the timespan from early humans until today; And to create cultural links. Pleas fill inn if something has been left out!


Time of the events/workshops “Gestures of Fire”

  • Monday-Friday September 21-25, 2020
  • On Friday we arrange an event open to the public – a one day fire festival, also involving dance/drama High School students.


The creation of the kilns

  • Dragos estimate two days, and Dragos bring two colleagues also professional ceramic artists. – Dragos, does this timing include two kilns?
  • The kilns have different shape and size according to function.
  • We agreed that bricks, recycled is a good building material, and also smaller local boulders. Clay is an interesting option too.
  • For firing we need about 300 kg. wood, birch-wood in the start, and later alder or oak. – Dragos, is 300 kg right?
  • Kåre & Jens: How can we involve the High School students in doing research on local kilns, and different usages.

a) Ceramics kiln

    • Dragos is very experienced, and it is fairly easy to get good and concrete results.
    • Cf. a local exhibition in 2019 in Porsgrunn, at Telemark Museum : "FRAGILE – ceramics in Grenland for 2000 years": Link here.

b) Iron kiln

  • The students are already involved in looking into the production of iron items.
  • We have a possibility to make an excursion to a local iron ore during the September workshop. It is complicated to extract iron from the raw materials, but this can be included later in the process. For the September workshop we will work with already refined/recycled iron.
  • Students can make jewellery as a result of the process, copper, glass etc. Dragos suggests using copper as it is easier to modify/shape.
  • Viking period, typically made things from iron, cf. recent archaeological findings in Norway (?)


Dragos input

  • To create a "social archaeological experiment": Retransfer from historical periods to contemporary society. Leading to new folk art or art, and discover how the local society is transformed by it.
  • Community coming together. Becoming aware of local material culture and material processes, and to play with the processes.

Teachers point of view

  • The local historical/archaeological context is of relevance for their teaching. Currently they’re focusing on iron and glass in their teaching programme, but it is can possible to look into ceramics.


Ripple effects/further process

  • Invite artists, historians, archaeologists to make use of kilns and learn from the Pyrolab park in the future
  • Describe the experiments in a series-publication for the Norwegian archaeological journal. Let the students write, and give them training in academic publishing:


Follow up – the following are identified as needs now

  • Updated material and equipment/tools list – Dragos
  • Examples of local kilns, engage students Jens and Kåre
  • Fire bellows, cf. from goatskin or reused textiles  Elin will contact a maker of shamanistic tools – Kåre think too about materials
  • Get in touch with local archaeologists – Kåre and/or Mads
  • A tent to be put up over the construction area – Mads, ask Steinar Moe Eiendom (?)
  • Invite local ceramicist(s) from Skien – Jens
  • Invite a local blacksmith – Kåre
  • Contact this Norwegian archaeological journal. (This one?) – Jens & Kåre?
  • Dragos sent papers on pyro techniques & archaeology; Commenting that these texts are not entirely focused on the problems discussed today, but that you teachers can extract what is relevant for further teaching – Elin forward a zip-folder to Kåre


Best wishes from Mads & Elin 😊