I grew up in a family that played street, card and board games, and went into the woods and climbed trees. Playing was an end in itself. I hadn’t appreciated this fully until I began researching the idea (of play) and realised that the greatest gift that my parents gave me (especially my dad) was rooting play at the core of my being because it was the basis of discovering and exploring my creative potential.
I have memories of my brother soldering and testing his sensor’s range ‘early adaptor’. It helped me understand that technology could be adapted and subverted and be something that in turn could change the way you behave. It could also do things without being visible or present. It was a revelation.
Denmark has a strong physical play and playground tradition. It was the first country to develop the outdoor adventure playground. There is a sense of freedom and individuality (enabled by a strong safety net) that allows exploration. This exploration and play is also reflected in the Scandanavian attitude to the body. The body is ‘more natural’ (not trapped in a puritanical or religious ideal) and most people would do physical sport and play activities. Like many people of my generation I was granted a great deal of creative and social freedom. I’ve been exploring the edges of that space since I was a teenager.
Pippi Longstocking was my hero. She was cool because she was different. She was strong (actually, she had superpowers of physical strength), unusual and independent - and she saw the world differently. She turned her world upside down, sleeping with her legs on the pillows of her bed, eating at the wrong times, questioning the things that adults take for granted. She was my permission to be me and to explore. Every time there was a dress up event I would be Pippi …or a pirate.
Growing up in Denmark gave me a strong sense of the importance of community, people and place together with values of equality and fairness. This democratic, social impulse is the heartbeat of my work. We really all are in this (my work) together!
The moment I realised that I it was possible to create art from play was in my early 20’s. I was drawing on paper with pencils, colour and was making Miro-inspired drawings. It was liberating and rewarding to know that I could produce art but what I was making, though technically very good, was limited. It was only when I began to channel the fierce independence of my teenage years into the work that I started to establish my own voice. And the vocabulary of that voice came from play, game-making, adventure, the very things that defined my character and identity. As soon as I was conscious of this, my working practice was established. I was drawing on experience rather than received ideas. Making art was the way for me to be safe and take risks at the same time. It was a clear and obvious extension of my everyday creativity.