Last year, CCBF started a new initiative with the idea of developing in-depth cooperation with international artists active in the field of children’s illustration. CCBF has a long tradition of inviting picture book authors to visit CCBF. Even if great memories remain about their stay and events, those are short-term experiences. We felt it was time to establish more perennial cooperation patterns and invite our authors to leave something concrete and lasting behind them: something like illustration artworks…
In art residencies, the participating artists are invited to spend some time in a determined context and undertake creative work in order to engage with their new surroundings and connect local experiences to their global artistic background. Residencies are a space for experimentation and intercultural exchange and dialogue. Art residences are well spread around the world, but very few of them are made for illustrators only.
So CCBF is filling this gap with an exciting project that starts with creative activities here in Shanghai and continues with exhibitions.
After a first edition focused on Spain, the three artists invited to join this year’s programme are from Norway and visiting China for the very first time. And what a better way to discover Shanghai’s unique feel than living in an old house in the heart of the old town just a few blocks away from the Yu Garden and the City Temple.
Let’s meet the residents and have a look at how they live.
CCBF: What are you first impressions of the city? How do you feel in the house that has been rented for you by CCBF?
Bjorn Rune: Incredible! So different from what we are used to in every way. The pace of the traffic! The electric scooters that are used for transporting absolutely everything (from panes of glass to picking kids up from school) The way everyday life takes place out on the street in the old town, people playing games on the pavement next to someone filleting fish, next to a welder who builds a drying rack or some strange customised contraption. It’s pretty special. Very sad that this way of life seems to be shrinking by the day.
The skyscraper tower blocks are fascinating in their own way and the city ( of which we’ve only scratched the surface) has a lot more trees and green spaces than initially thought. There is just so much to look at. Everywhere you turn is a new visual treat, whether it’s an neon sign or a haircut or a cat climbing a motorbike. We love the house. It’s such a nice refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s lovely and clean and really comfortable. And the coffee machine is a massive bonus!
CCBF: How do you structure your time and how are you focusing your exploration of the city? What is resulting most inspiring to you?
Kritin Roskifte: We’ve picked out a few museums and sites to see in the mornings, then walked around and just looked and photographed a lot. Sometimes we’ve gone together, sometimes by ourselves, but every evening we’ve met in the house and drawn for a few hours and talked about our experiences of the day. We’ve all been very inspired by the neighbourhood that we live in, by the busy streets and all the personal belongings on display that tell stories about their owners.
CCBF: Working together: Is your cohabitation influencing your creative and working habits? How does it feel to be part of a creative collective?
Mari Kanstad Johnsen: It’s wonderful to be in a new city with people who also like to draw. We all have slightly different habits, both when it comes to what materials we use, formats, and where the drawings come from. Kristin always sketches in sketchbooks, little, detailed drawings that are maybe refined and digitalized in the end, Bjørn Rune often sketches tiny thumb-drawings that work as composition plans for more elaborate drawings with a lot of texture and detail, my sketching technique is, I would say… very “unsystematical”! I work in small size in sketchbooks, or do big sketches on single papers, depending on the mood of the day. It’s extremely inspiring! I get a bit envious of both Kristin and Bjørn Runes approaches, but in the good way. A very lucky incident is that we all enjoy drawing in the evening after dinner!
This programme is organised with the support of the Royal Norwegian Consulate in Shanghai, and the collaboration of Magikon Forlag.
If you want to hear more of their stories and discover their creations, please come to the CCBF Illustrators Survival Corner on Saturday afternoon 15:15. They will be there to answer all your questions.