Annika Svensson - Alumn




"A tiled stove takes three to five months to make"

What did you do directly after you graduated from HDK?

– In August 1997, I acquired a studio in Sockerbruket [the sugar mill] Klippan in Gothenburg. During the summers I had previously rented a part in a workshop and for me it was ‪natural, to get somewhere to be and continue working after graduation.

What are you doing today?

– At first I worked for myself, in 1999, I rented out a surface to my colleague Renata Francescon. Later we started looking for a new room that we moved to 2001 along with three other potters. Today we are four potters who have this studio with common ovens in Högsbo in Gothenburg, but we are working on separate things. After making a sun tiled stove as thesis, I have continued to shape, design, produce and put up the unique tiled stoves. Besides, I do adornments, such as ceramic sculptures to the Tax Agency's headquarters in Solna, Stockholm, inaugurated in March 2015. I also work in other materials. In 2013, I made a bigger light installation to Ållebergsgymnasiet, which I linked to the history of the Ålleberg necklace – one of three gold collars that have been found in Scandinavia. The collar is dated to around 500 AD and the three rings are beautifully rendered with pagan figures. My modern twist is made of three flat rings, made of casting resin in acrylic. I also designed the ground plan adjacent to the entrance with "Megalitbänkar".

How did you end up there – how has your career path been like?

– It was great fun to do the 265 centimetres tall stove as a graduation project and I wanted to continue with it. However, it took me eight years before sold my first oven, so I had some extra work in the beginning. Among other at HDK! The tiled stove got a lot of attention, and I was named the "Year Embryo '97" for the best thesis in applied art and design education in Sweden. The production is costly – a tiled stove takes three to five months to make. And as I said previously I also make ornaments and light installations.

During your study time, did you have some kind of strategy to influence your future career?

– One thing I have brought with me is that I like to combine function with architectural ceramics in unique form. Tiled stoves are good that way – you need to burn wood, but takes no other power. As a student at HDK, the focus is very much on being able to express yourself and focus on exhibitions. In addition, I had gladly wished that there would be more training in how to start and run your own business.

Did you get international experience during the study time/training that has been helpful in your career?

– Yes, we travelled from the first grade. During the study period we were in Mexico, in Ukraine, we visited a glass symposium and on Crete, we had a course on colour and shape – a great way to get new inspiration. I have done some exhibitions abroad, including the US, Germany and the Nordic region, where I established new contacts and built on my network. In 2008 I exported and installed two stoves in the UK.

Your strongest memory from HDK?

– My view of how I thought it would be like a potter has changed. A while into the study, a professor was attached to our trade. He came in like a breath of fresh air with international ambitions and stressed the importance of learning cooperation and networking with everyone, across borders.

What is the most important lesson from HDK-period? Any special tools/skills?

– The work process - how one works and acts. Our Prefect Ove Thorsén made it clear that when creating a work and then showing it to the outside world is one phase. Then, it usually takes time before someone buys the work and it is only then there will be more orders, but as an artist you often already have moved on and are probably not always so eager to take a step back. Another good lesson I got was how to combine the technical skills with my artistic ambition and daring to trust how the works.

If you were to give one advice to a prospective HDK-student – what would it be?

– I got on really well at HDK, but sometimes it can be difficult to understand the importance of the breadth of the courses and thinking "I don’t have the benefit of that'. But many times it’s that I have had great benefit and happiness of later on.

Annika Svensson

Job title: Potter, stove builder, artist

Born: 1970

Comes from: Varberg, Sweden

Education at HDK: Master of Fine Arts, MFA, in Ceramic Art

Graduated: 1997

Other education: I studied a preparatory arts education, KV art school in Guldheden, and a one year course "Entrepreneurship for the arts" at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Gothenburg.

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