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An interview with Silje Gjertsen – RCA MA Metro Mentorship Special Award Winner 2015

30 September 2015
Continuing our series of interviews with recent Metro Mentorship winners we talk to Silje Lovise Gjertsen winner of the RCA MA Metro Mentorship Special Award 2015.

Firstly congratulations on winning this year’s RCA MA Special Metro award. You won a Metro mentorship in 2013 from LCC. How do you hope this year’s mentorship will differ and what more do you hope to learn from the experts here at Metro?
Thank you, I am really happy to have the opportunity to continue the relationship with Metro! The previous mentorship was great for me, but this year I feel it will play a more important role and be even more beneficial as I am out of the art school environment and I am establishing myself as a professional artist. I hope to use this mentorship to continue expanding my professional development, and to further explore the technical facilities and expertise at Metro.

You have an interest in the relationship between analogue and digital photographic techniques – what inspired or led you to these ideas?
Working with analogue photography, shooting large format and printing in the darkroom, is very important to my practice. There is a magic to it that I love, being in the darkroom for hours and seeing the image appear from the white paper, being under the dark cloth looking through the glass to find the image up-side down, and also the very slow pace of shooting large format, it really suits and complements my way of looking and experiencing the world. I really enjoy working with my hands so doing my own prints in the darkroom is my favourite part, I work with each image differently to find the right technique, paper and tone it needs. The b&w pieces that are more worked into, are offered an element of chance and I enjoy how they are all unique and impossible to reproduce, that relates to among other things how the weather and time treats the land and leaves their marks.

How you would describe your overall style of photography and what inspires that style?
I guess my style is quite sombre, but with glimpses of light and something mystical. I believe it is imbedded in me having grown up by the sea in Norway where the weather and sea is rough, I think I am very drawn to the Nordic darkness and the magical qualities it brings.

Have you always had an ambition to become a photographer and if so what do you think sparked that interest?
I actually came to London to do fashion design, and did a year at London College of Fashion. My garments were very sculptural and pointed more towards art, and were not commercial in any way. During that year my love for photography grew much more apparent, so I quickly realised that I wasn’t letting out my creativity through the right channel. I was completely new to the technical aspect of photography, although I had been obsessed with looking at old photographs since I was a child and I always had my way of looking and composing/framing things. So I naturally found a way to work with photography that continued my love for making and working with my hands.

What are your ultimate photography/career goals?

I am currently moving into a new studio in Borough with my partner who is a sculptor, so there I will continue to explore the more material elements of my practice, and I am also setting up my own darkroom there which is very exciting. My goal is to continue making my work, and to explore all the things that I am excited about.
Silje won a 12-month 1-1 mentorship programme with the experts here at Metro as well as £500 credit to spend on Metro's services.

For more information about Silje Lovise Gjertsen

Images © Silje Lovise Gjertsen

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