Trude Ugelstad, Norwegian Crafts
Trude Gomnæs Ugelstad is the director of Norwegian Crafts – The International promotional platform for crafts from Norway – which was founded on December 20, 2012. The board includes professional members such as Benedicte Wildhagen, Jorunn Veiteberg, Torbjørn Kvasbø and Elisabeth Sørheim. She reveals to TLmag her vision and activities, which aim at a better international recognition of the Norwegian talents in this visual arts field.
TLmag: What is your background and interest in contemporary art and crafts ?
Trude Gomnæs Ugelstad: I studied arts management in Colorado (US) before returning to Norway. I already had a high artistic vision of the field of Norwegian craftsmanship and could easily put it in an international perspective. As executive manager of Norwegian Crafts, I am highly interested in the positioning of Nordic crafts today and how what is handmade can be valued in our society through finding new emerging markets of collectors and craft appreciators, and by supporting talent and education in order to achieve sustainable development of the Norwegian craft scene. The relationship with fine arts is strong and the handmade pieces we promote together with Galleri Format Oslo and partners such as Ateliers d’Art de France for Révélations, reflect the finest professional and artistic qualities in ceramics, textile, jewellery and glass. We are very proud and grateful to be the guest country this year for the Révélations ‘première’ show organised by Ateliers d’Art de France at Grand Palais during Paris Design Week.
TLmag: What is your vision and mission for Norwegian Crafts?
T.U.: Norwegian crafts are known worldwide for high artistic quality and remarkable craftsmanship. Norwegian Crafts produces high quality crafts projects for the most influential and relevant international arenas. It scouts, nurtures and secures a worldwide network of institutions, organisations and professionals.
TLmag: How do you see the evolution of the promotion of contemporary design-led crafts from Norway on the international scene ?
T.U.: The Norwegian Crafts Association, which has now evolved into Norwegian Crafts, began participating in international projects in 2004. Our artists cannot develop their markets only on their national territory. They need to be recognised worldwide and to sell their art and craft works abroad. Thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Crafts is able to provide funding to the artists for travel, catalogues and promotion at fairs and events, but not to cover production costs. Our average budget per year is about 700,000 NKR (+- € 1,000,000) which goes into supporting the internationalisation of Norwegian crafts. In our position, we act as primary advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to determine what directions should be taken by Norway in terms of investing in craft projects. Norsk Form, on the other hand, along with the Norwegian Council of Design and together with the Ministry the Norwegian, is planning design initiatives and events such as 100% Norway, Inside Norway and supporting Klubben, which will be held at the Docks en Seine in Paris at the same time as Révélations. This duality between craft and design promotion goes back to the mid-1970s, when the Norwegian Crafts Association began positioning craft as counter to functional art and as close as possible to the fine arts.
TLmag: How do you implement Norwegian Crafts’s presence at an international level?
T.U.: We take part in cutting-edge and well-renowned biennials and shows at galleries and museums worldwide, including the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Cité de la Céramique de Sèvres’s ceramics tour in Paris. We also try to be represented at the leading trade fairs such as Révélations at the Grand Palais, Paris, in September 2013 and Collect in London, held in May each year, in collaboration with our commercial entity Galleri Format Oslo for selling pieces to collectors and museums. Norwegian Crafts also supports and produces seminars and publications at the highest quality level. We aim to nurture and secure a long-term worldwide network with professionals in all design-led crafts projects. Finally, our state-supported organisation supports attractive international exchanges through academic courses, residencies and visitor programmes with, for example, the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle (US) and the EKWC programme in the Netherlands. Some highlights are provided on our website in the online Norwegian Crafts’magazine, which tries to capture the essence of our crafts’qualities and profiles. And in 2015, I would like to start up a Nordic Crafts Biennial. Let’s see what the future will bring us and how our crafts artists will innovate and create beautiful and sustainable works of art !