Open home/ open studio/ coffee/ spoons

Something happened that you weren’t invited to.

Firstly, this past year, I´ve been sitting in my studio carving spoons, sometimes with company but mostly alone. I had workshops to share this escape, to teach an addictive tactic, an old craft. And so I had made 53 spoons in a year which is too many spoons for one person to have, even if they like cooking and don’t like washing up. But selling them was too ugly and some people get awkward when you gift them things.

So the second thing that happened was: I decided to give the spoons away. I asked the 34 people I gave them to to exchange the spoon for something they had made. We gathered on the 9th May for dinner, eaten with the spoons. What happened was unexpected, was special, is a little hard to describe; something shared only between us who were there, an atmosphere for sharing, talking, being, being exposed and vulnerable, thinking, asking questions.

These things happened in private and not everyone can always be everywhere, but I want to invite you to join the project, to come to my home and my studio and have coffee.

We can talk more about this when we see each other.

Spoons Ignoring is a many branched project using carving, workshops, text and installation to explore both our need to turn away and our need to come together.

With thanks to: David Alræk, Randi Grov Berger, Ingrid Bjørnseth, Scott Elliott, Philipp von Hase, Rhiannon Inman-Simpson, Omar Johnsen, Tom Kosmo, Laurie Lax, Johanna Lettmayer, Klara Sofie Ludvigsen, Anna Melbye, Kobie Nel, Julie Porter, Fredrik Rysjedal and Maia Urstad. Annie Ablett, Filippa Börjesson, Aski Dahl, Jiska Huising, Mina Ino, Stephany Pollard, Erna Skúladóttir, Izumi Yakamoto and Yokoi Yuko. Profesjonelle kunst- og kulturtiltak, Bergen Kommune.

Open home
Monday 17.6.19 kl 15-17
Please message for address

Open studio
Wednesday 19.6.19 kl 15-17
Isotop, Magnus barfotgate 25


I once heard someone say this:
to not think about something, you have to think about something else.
I can hear the way they said it- you have to think about

something else.
Like being in two places at one time,
here in the room, listening to what you are saying.
And also, in my thoughts, in my head which run alongside.
I am listening to the both of us.

Whether I turn away, or we come together, I can do this too.
When my hands are busy, my mind is occupied.
When you ask a question, I have to ask that question to myself.
When I listen to it I end up just listening to myself.
Archipelago: Ashes.
1. juni 2019, kl. 19.00 - 23.00.

Hordaland Kunstsenter,
Klosteret 17
5005 Bergen.


Though I think I will go on making spoons for the rest of my life, I feel the need to mark off the one year point of my Spoons Ignoring project. The spoons are sitting on my studio wall: yes they could be exhibited again, but I really feel that they should be used.

People ask me if they are for sale, but I am not sure what their value is.
As spoons, some of them aren’t very functional.
As art, I see them as the outcome, not the art themselves.

But their value to me is huge: I’ve spent so long with them, in my hands as I made them, and as companions in my studio, always there with me. I couldn’t give them to someone in exchange for something so fleeting as money, even if I did know the price.

And I want to know who has them now, who is using it, who is the spoon keeping company now its not me.

The project hasn’t been so much about spoons, as about actions: the action of turning away from the world; the action of turning towards a craft; the action of gathering in a workshop; the action of using the spoons together.

Like for like, I guess I could exchange them for another action, another work. And these works will replace the spoons on my wall, in my studio and in my home. I plan to invite others to come see the exchanged works: to gather and see how the project looks now.


I sat and I thought.

First I thought: I don’t want to give any of the spoons away.

And then I thought: If I have to, who would I want to give them to.

So this is my invitation to you to exchange a work of yours for a spoon. Any work, any material (a performance, a video, an object, a text, a photo, a sketch, a painting, a gesture) that you made during the same period as I have been working on this project, so from the beginning of April 2018 until the end of April 2019.

We will all gather in May for a meal, eaten with the spoon that will then be yours in exchange for something you have made. I will open my studio and my house for a series of events to share the works, and the project as a whole, with others, over a cup of coffee in the following month and I will be making a small series of printed works that will help to document the overall project.

You are of course, welcome to decline; this is where I have ended after thinking on the value of my spoons and this artwork but you could also take this as an opening to a discussion between us, where you place value on your work, how you make peace with it living on without you, or: if you are ready to see the back of it.

Today, you don’t need to decide what you would like to exchange, the project ends at the end of April, so it might not be made yet, but please let me know by the end of the month if you would like to collaborate in this work, or if you don’t understand, or if you want to talk.
An email I wrote

B Open, Bergen open studios weekend.

My studio will be open on saturday 27th April, you are very welcome to come in and say hello and look around.

On sunday 28th april, I will be holding a slightly more experimental carving workshop, where the focus will not be on what we make, but on the time and situation in which we carve; I have called it Meditativ spikking. It will last one hour and there is no fee.

There is a little more info other workshops over the B Open weekend here: https://spoonsignoring.cargo.site


Søndag 28. april kl. 13.00-14.00

The workshop as an invitation to come in.

Over 2018, I began sharing my project, Spoons // Ignoring through a series of spoon carving workshops. I opened up the ideas behind the project (the need for ignoring and turning away, as a survival tactic; that being busy with your hands lets your mind rest) through sharing an experience with the audience. Coming together to learn and to play, creates a very unique atmosphere, it is not often as adults that get to let our curiosity out. I’ve found the energy at these workshops to be incredibly intense: the concentration, the absorbtion, the desire to succeed and shape the wood in our hands, followed by shock at how quickly time has passed, and pride in seeing the spoon take form.

These workshops have taken place in familiar or homely spaces: cafes, shopping centers, art shops, my studio. And yet we are thinking and talking about the same things that I might have presented in a gallery, in other projects.

A workshop is a curious space, and a space for curiosity, and so I am very excited to begin working with KIOSKEN, to develop a workshop program where the audience can get another, sideways look at different artistic practices through hands on experiences. 

Coming up first, is a workshop with jewellery designer Karina Banks on saturday the 23rd February, and more to be announced soon. Suggestions are also welcome!
Focusing of direction

My research this year will focus on the workshop as an alternative space to experience art.

In Richard Sennet’s Together (2012) he talks of the workshop as a functioning example of society, one that is shaped by how it is used, in which each participant works individually in combination with those around them (in contrast to a factory in which people fit into the machinery around them). I intend to research theory around the idea of the workshop, as a tool for learning and as a physical space that can be used to mediate between an audience and art.

This is a statement and also:
    an invitation to join me (for coffee and a chat)
    a request for help (something to read? a project to look at?)
    an act of focusing my questioning.

Happy new year!
Statement of intent

Autumn workshops:
20/11/18 KIOSKEN
24/11/18 Nye Fortsettelser opening day
27/11/18 KIOSKEN
9/12/18 Isotop
Workshop information

Anthems (sound work installation) at Bergen Art Book Fair, Bergen Kunsthall.
Exhibition information

kl 1400
Spoon carving workshop in Vaksdal as part of the art commission Nye Fortsettelser.
Workshop information

19/10/18 - 4/11/18
Opening 19th October, kl 19

Exhibition text:

Since the spring Amber has carved numerous wooden spoons and utensils, in different shapes and out of different kinds of wood; at home, in her studio, while travelling. One is made out of a piece of cherry tree given to her by a Japanese monk, another is made out of a piece of wood from a birch tree she chopped down herself. The finished spoons are elaborate yet functional objects.

For Amber carving manifests an act of ignoring. While carving she chooses to temporarily turn away – away from what is happening at home and in the world outside, away from noise, and towards craft, tangible materials and stillness. At the same time, she cannot ignore what she has chosen to disregard. Each spoon is named after a newspaper head line from the day of the carving, a news story that Amber has chosen not read or engage with, focusing instead on her own hands, tools and wood. To date, the project has been shared through spoon carving workshops.

During the opening of the exhibition the spoons will be used for the very first time.
Exhibition information

There are some things I should tell you about your name:
I wrote about it before,
when it was still green.

I’d forget how to say it
from saying it too many times
you don’t lift your head.

kl 1500
Wood workshop with Freja Bäckman‘s exhibition I was told I chop wood like a ballet dancer.

Wood carving, as with wood chopping, has inherent aspect of violence carved into it through the tools used. It is often a lonely activity, with a focus on production. This workshop will be about the act, the time spent together, the activity itself.

IwtIcwlabd has been shaped by public workshops and through improvisation sessions with a group of bass players and the performers chopping wood. Based on these shared moments, the exercise in writing the score for the performance has been a reflection on how we never work alone, on the stories and friendships we draw upon and on the worlds we co-inhabit. Approaching wood chopping – and the acts of violence and resistance therein – through notions of vulnerability, pleasure and repulsion, that reoccurs through the reverberating sound installation.
Workshop information

The lines on my blind face up, pull the string and they face down.
When they are down, the sun shines through
painting lines of light on my bedroom floor,
jail bars that tell me I shouldn’t go outside.
When they face up, white grey covers the ceiling.
If I look up, its like looking at the sky
On a cloudy day.
Extract from performance text, Two parts of the same.

kl 1500
Two parts of the same.
TASC performance at Heimdal Kunstforening.

We played a game drawn out in lines, like we used to see in the school gym. Red for this part of me, blue for that, yellow for another and white for one more. We read four characters of ourselves, the audience participated in a circle.
Performance information

kl 17.30
Spoon carving workshop at KIOSKEN.

I see the workshop as a mental and physical space in which ideas can be shared and art work experienced. The spoon carving workshops are an entrance into my practice; in these workshops the audience get to experience the ideas, rather than looking at them or reading about them. 
Workshop information.

Johanna said
you can never go home?

I have not returned, then
a) where am I now b) how long will I stay here c) am i on holiday d) why did you say that

I pretend I'm not hungry when you are looking,
some people eat biscuits one at a time.

kl 1300
I came to Kofu with a project based around the gestures of acknowledgement people give to eachother on hiking trails; these shared moments give attention to a shared love, to similarities, in a world where we focus on our differences, and offer understanding.
I thought this could be a poetic reflection the ways in which we be together.

My work is driven by my frustrations with the world that leaves little room of the complexities of the individual. It challenges our assumed depictions of identity, whether that is gender, sexuality, ability or my personal experiences with race, ethnicity and a sense of multi-belonging. But these questions are hard to ask when listening is so uncomfortable. To come to Japan and work on this project, I thought I had found a way to gently nudge the question of distance by drawing attention to how successful we can be when we come together.

But the project is hard to complete here.
or maybe:
I find the project hard to complete here.
or indeed,
I find the project hard to complete.

When I arrived, I was invited to take part in an exhibition that would be held in an old bath house. The same family had run the bath house for the last 90 years and had had to close last September. Although showing work here would be a new starting point, far away from hiking trails, since my first visit to a hammam in 201, I have fallen in love with the public bath as a space to be together in outside of the gaze of the world. Here we didn’t have to be girlfriends, wives, daughters or mothers, but could be together. And while it was a space for me to give up many unnecessary parts of my identity (and just be), it threw another part of my identity into sharp relief: I was still worried about my hair.

My hair is political, whether I want it to be or not. It is the strongest identifier of where I am as an individual, neither black or white, or black and white, but (as someone once said to me in Yates when I was a teenager) some nex-race. I’ve blow dried the curls out of my hair for a decade at least; to remove a difference was a disguise that allowed me to be seen. I didn't get to chose the game, but I found a way of playing it because I had the privilege of choice.

So although the public bath provides some escape from most of the games of society, I am still left with the decision of how to be seen when I exit. To wrap my hair from the steam, and come out as I came in. Or to let the steam bring back my natural curls, give up control.

This weekly gesture of pulling out my curls is a gentle nudge to a question. But I wonder if it is heard. If in my daily life I am gently nudging, does this leave me room to begin shouting and pushing in my art practice?
Text performed for artist presentation.

Tip-Tip, Plop-Plop, exhibition at Takasago-yu sento.
Presenting 'When I go to the sento, I have to wear a scarf around my hair', a sound work for two listeners.
Exhibition info

I am in Japan for the next 6 weeks.

I am doing a residency in a community. Not an artist residency. This is the best way to describe it. Based in an old gynaecology practice, just outside the city center of Kofu, surrounded by mountains (it reminds me of Bergen, that you can look up between the buildings and see them, but three times the height of Ulriken). The residency has been running for 12 years with the aim of giving artists space (as most residencies offer) but also to introduce the city to artists, and to introduce the artists to the city. Escaping from my Bergen bubble of artists and musicians, Izumi Sakamoto, the director, introduces me to artists, curators, coffee connoseurs, neighbours, old friends, sento owners, pharmacists, libarians, in the same way: this is an interesting person, they know Kofu.
The residency house acts as a conduit between art and the ‘real world’, as a basis for putting art alongside hospitality and community development. I’ve never seen this done so genuinely before. The audience Izumi brings to the residency house, through workshops, cookery lessons and drawing classes, aren’t other artists, but people who are curious about what art does and what it can do. So am I.

While I am here, I have some time away from my self, to look again at my practice. For the last year, it has focused on a project called Anthems (more here). It is a gentle way of dealing with my frustrations of prejudice and as a route to open the discussion around it. But I wonder about the benefits of being gentle, or of pointing at a problem without a solution.
I have this story in my head, that I sometimes tell myself, its 90% true but I made myself sharper:
I worked as a bartender in central London. A middle aged man came to the bar and said, incredibly slowly “Could I have a pint and a glass of wine wine?”, I replied, also incredibly slowly, “ Would you like a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio?” and he laughed and said “Oh, thank god! I was speaking slowly because I thought you were foreign!” and I replied “Oh! I was speaking slowly because I thought you were old”.
At last we think that prejudice exists, and we are told, on one side, to accept and tolerate, and on the other to adapt and integrate. But this is too passive to make change, who wants to get into a burning house? Who has to build a new one? Instead of #metoo can someone start #ihave.
Where do you come from? someone asked. If your place of home is nullified, discredited, where does that leave you? Then I began the Anthems project. I had a conversation with a curator about this just before I left for Japan. He told me a story of a friend who was shouted at on the bus and told to “Go home”. The punch line was, she was blonde and German, “so you know, it works both ways”.

It’s tiring to always start from the beginning.
So I go to my studio, I listen to a murder podcast, and carve spoons. I lose hours like this, I’m thinking, but only about spoons and wood. It's a relief. It's the perfect escape. I can pretend I don’t know. I take this pretence home, I wash my hair. I blow dry it, brush all the curls out. Its an escape. You can’t assume so you have to ask. I can pass but at what expense- I feel like I ought to feel guilty, and isn’t that the same thing?
Text sent as email

The work with Norden til Bergen.
Isotop Project Room 
Magnusbarfotgate 25, 5010 Bergen.
kl19:00 onwards.

With dancer and choreographer, Ole Martin Meland, visual artist Robert Demeter, sound artist, Jiska Huizing and dancer, Mathias Stoltenberg.

Goodbye to TASC Studio Kitchen.
Hordaland Kunstsenter
Klosteret 17, 5005 Bergen.
kl15:00 onwards

With contributions from TASC Ablett and Brafield, Julie Porter, Siri Frances, Eva Rowson, Athea Beuys, Anne Szefer Karlsen and Berit Kaald. With a first performance of the collaboration, The Eating Ensemble with Rudi Valdernes.

Text work published with IN THE LIBRARY and Pamflett print studios.

In my own life
i wasn't even a reliable witness.
I did things I said
I didn't do.
Since I've met him I think I'm a liar
and I think everyone else is a liar too.

Bergen, Norway// London, UK