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Irija Øwres at Galleri Format Oslo

Irija Øwres is passionate about design-led crafts from Norway. As an art historian with a strong background in the fine arts gallery business, she has been overseeing the transformation of the Galleri Format Oslo, which has been driven at an international level by The Norwegian Association of Arts and...
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Irija Øwres is passionate about design-led crafts from Norway. As an art historian with a strong background in the fine arts gallery business, she has been overseeing the transformation of the Galleri Format Oslo, which has been driven at an international level by The Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts since 1991. She has supported Galleri Format Oslo in evolving from a public gallery towards a more commercial and internal platform for contemporary crafts. It now increasingly organizes high-end exhibitions and bespoke projects, in order to develop a long-lasting strategy based on the recognized qualities of emerging and established talents from Norway.

TLmag: What makes contemporary crafts in Norway different from other places in Europe? Would you say there is a close combination of design-led crafts and fine arts?
I.O.: The Norwegian art scene is thriving at the moment and experiencing growing international attention. There has also been a strong focus on materials within the art field. Many young Norwegian artists work with different materials to express their concepts and artistic practices. Norwegian crafts are thus more experimental, with a high level of knowledge within the different materials.

TLmag: How would you define the culture of Norwegian crafts today?
I.O.: The Norwegian crafts scene is dynamic, and has developed over the past decades with a high level of diversity and knowledge. The international contribution is steadily growing and several artists are making their marks. The strong and well-organized Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts creates important opportunities nationally and internationally for Norwegian crafts artists to showcase their work. Also, the focus on and the facilities of the new Oslo National Academy of the Arts for both students and residencies strengthen the development of up-and-coming Norwegian crafts artists.

TLmag: Amongst the selection at Révélations in Paris, what are the projects you would like to highlight, either pieces or project-driven installations, for the various disciplines: jewelry, textile, ceramics, metal/silver and glass?
I.O.: Katrine Køster Holst is currently the most talented young ceramics artist. She explores the possibilities within material and has worked on experimental projects with Torbjørn Kvasbø, an established artist celebrated in Norway and abroad. Within Norwegian figurative ceramics, Irene Nordli has the most renown. Galerie Collection in Paris recently exhibited her Super White series, in collaboration with Gallery Format Oslo; it was also shown at Art Beijing in 2011. Her solo show at Gallery Format Oslo last year received wide acclaim. Inger Johanne Rasmussen is one of Norway’s most established textile artists. She recently had an impressive show in Tokyo and currently has a large textile piece on view at Chatsworth House in the UK. Sigurd Bronger received the Soderberg Design Award last year, cementing his position as one of the most successful and innovative jewelry artists of his generation. Together with Liv Blåvarp, who is represented in numerous international collections, and Konrad Mehus, a well-respected and established jewelry artist, they define Norwegian jewelry art.

TLmag: How are you building up the international promotion and recognition, of Norwegian crafts at an international level through fairs and design-led crafts events such as Collect? What is your strategy for the future?
I.O.: Galleri Format Oslo was founded over 20 years ago and is the leading gallery for contemporary crafts in Norway. It is an exhibition and sales venue offering the finest professional and artistic quality within ceramic, textile, metal, jewelry and glass. We aim to show a combination of established crafts artist and new talents within the field. We have at least one international exhibition each year and participate at international fairs, such as Collect in London, Frame in Munich and SOFA in Chicago next year. We are also looking into other art fairs in the US and more geographically distant art markets. We provide a high level of service to our international clients and actively present high quality Norwegian crafts abroad.

TLmag: What is your 2013-2014 exhibition program at Galleri Format Oslo and what international events are in the pipeline?
I.O.: After a very busy springtime participating at fairs and exhibiting two larger group shows from The Netherlands and France, we will focus on Norwegian craft artists this autumn. We will start the season’s exhibition program with one of Norway’s best known ceramic artist, Sidsel Hanum. We will also present sculpture shows by a young and talented artist working in metal, a ceramic artist working with graphic and figurative images, and a group show high quality textile pieces. The exhibition program in 2014 combines solo shows by talented young artists and established artists from Norway and abroad, with new works by Marit Tingleff, May Bente Aronsen and Anders Ruhwald, to name a few. In collaboration with the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, we are planning a group show with objects by internationally acclaimed ceramics artists. The gallery will also participate in fairs in Europe and the US.

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Katrine Koster Holst, Every core has a surface and every surface has a fault. 2012
Katrine Koster Holst, Every core has a surface and every surface has a fault. 2012
Exhibition by Katrine Koster Holst, the Phantom Image of an Owl, Galleri Format Oslo, 2013
Exhibition by Katrine Koster Holst, the Phantom Image of an Owl, Galleri Format Oslo, 2013
Irija Owre in the Katrine Koster Holst exhibition, Galleri Format Oslo
Irija Owre in the Katrine Koster Holst exhibition, Galleri Format Oslo
Vidar Koksvik, Azul e azul , detail, blown glass, 2012
Vidar Koksvik, Azul e azul , detail, blown glass, 2012
Sidsel Hanum, Big lime tree leaf from last year, porcelaine, 2013
Sidsel Hanum, Big lime tree leaf from last year, porcelaine, 2013
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