There is a longing that might strike you when you meet the Arctic. You leave a piece of yourself behind, turning your heart forever towards north. I’ve had this longing for as long as I can remember.
Some years ago I had the opportunity to visit Svalbard in wintertime and found it to be everything I had wished for. During my time there I also encountered the art of a local artist, Olaf Storø. I fell in love with one of his prints at the local gallery but thought it too expensive (they are actually quite reasonably priced but I was a student at the time). I visited it several times at the gallery but in the end went home empty-handed.
A few months later I returned to Svalbard, determined to buy the print this time if I loved it as much as the first time (the fact that I by then had a proper salary helped). I did and the lithography in question has been one of my most treasured belongings ever since. Eventually it has been followed by some of his other prints, although none of them capable of replacing my first love.
Olaf Storø has a rare ability to capture the Svalbard landscape so that it feels true, which made it possible for me to bring a piece of Svalbard into my own home. Since then some of his art has been collected in book, Signatur, which is difficult to find and obviously written in Norwegian but which I wanted to share here anyway as I liked it so much. It is a rather unusual artbook in that various owners of Olaf Storø’s art are each sharing their stories around one of his pieces that they own and their relation to Olaf Storø followed by the artists own comments on the piece and how the owner got it. Together it creates an informal and personal portrait of the artist, but also brief glimpses into the lives of the owners, which include family, friends but also looser acquaintances.