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TOBBE MALM BOLT POETRY SERIES IV EXHIBITION
Viewers invited to interpret the stories of the “bolt people” at Borlänge Konsthall.
OSLO, NORWAY, 11 January 2016 – Swedish blacksmith artist Tobbe Malm opens a new exhibition of the Bolt Poetry series this week in Borlänge Konsthall, Sweden. Titled, “Moments and Eternities/Ögonblick och Evigheter”, the exhibition is an exploration of human vulnerability, wrought in raw iron. Malm has been developing an idea he calls “creation theory”, exploring the timeless nature of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The exhibition runs until February 3rd, and is complimented by a special online exhibition, allowing people from all over the world to see the collection.
The theme of destruction and renewal has always fascinated Malm. Years earlier, at a time when death was prominent in his life, Malm often spoke with a friend who was entrenched in a similarly dark period. The conversations centred on dying, yet soon the pair realised they had come full circle, and were talking about renewal and life. Malm was at the time working on the Iron Rose for Norway project, which he created following the terror attacks on Oslo in 2011. The project used the creative process to help the survivors and other victims to process their grief. “Meeting with people in grief had left me with this palpable sense of loss,” said Malm. He wanted to express the universal humanity of these encounters. The bolt people came to embody this subtlety in all of us. The rough, cold exterior cannot hide the softness of the child in all of us.
Malm had found old bolts of all sizes on a farm in Bergslagen, Sweden. They had lain there a long time, and might well have rusted away entirely, returning to their original mineral form. Malm was struck by this. He describes the encounter: “The bolts reminded me of human forms, and I felt they had something to tell. I heated them, forged, bent and twisted them. I tried to create relations, meetings and situations and suddenly stories emerged about sorrow, joy, pain, warmth and humour. A kind of poetry was created.” These emotions and stories touch something universal. None of the bolt people, as they came to be called, have names. Malm leaves it to the viewer to tell their story.
The current exhibition showcases the fourth in the Bolt Poetry series. The first series was simply called “Bolt Poetry”, followed by, “Songs from White Archive”, and “Wondrous Voice of Love”. The species is finite, and soon all of the bolts Malm collected will have gone through the cycle of renewal and been forged into something new. These are the ones who will remain to tell their stories, while the others rust and dissolve. The challenge to the viewer is to look beyond the exterior.
The exhibition is open daily Monday through Saturday in Borlänge. If you can’t make it, visit the exhibition online by clicking here. For sales enquiries, contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates: 12 January – 3 February 2016
Venue: Borlänge Konsthall, Huvudbiblioteket, Sveatorget 5, Borlänge SE.
Monday – Thursday 10:00 – 19:00
Friday 09:00 – 18:00
Saturday 11:00 – 15:00
“These thoughts began to take solid form some years ago, at a time when death played a prominent role in my life. In a series of conversations with my good friend Randi Smedsgaard, who was going through a similar dark time, we discussed the topic of death. Eventually, the conversation came to be about life. It was a natural thing. Like all destruction, our words went from tangible feeling, to ruin, to new creations.” (Tobbe Malm)
“My sculptures have no title, I want to leave it to the viewer to tell their story.” (Tobbe Malm)
I wanted to forge something that was inspired by the “Iron Rose” but wanted it to be something different. Meeting with people in grief had left me with this palpable sense of loss, and I wanted to express that in my festival contributions. In my luggage I had three old bolts from Bergslagen and forged the first bolt sculpture, “Absent”. (Tobbe Malm)
About Tobbe Malm
Tobbe Malm was born and raised in a small, but not quiet, Swedish mining town. Explosions shook the ground day and night as workers were digging passageways underground. The coveted iron ore was transported up above ground and melted in a giant blast furnace. The flame from the long chimney seemed to lick the sky day and night. Heavy industry was always present during Malm’s upbringing and, according to him, influenced the people and the social structure. The blast furnace shut down in 1981. The last mine closed the same year. Malm’s childhood has been a great source of inspiration and subject of exploration the last few years, and now strongly characterizes his work. Malm moved to Norway with his family in 2008. He was awarded the Alfred Habermann Memorial Prize for his work on the Iron Rose for Norway project.
Iron Rose for Norway Project:
July 22, 2011, is a day the Norwegian people will never forget. A lone gunman massacred 69 people on the island of Utøya. Most were youths attending a Workers Youth League (AUF) political youth organisation summer camp, affiliated with the Norwegian Labour Party. Norwegian leaders handled the tragedy with openness, peace, and wisdom. The people of Norway reacted by filling the streets with roses. The rose is the symbol of the Labour party. It was this sea of roses that inspired Tobbe Malm to start the Iron Rose project, called “Järn Rosen” in the original Swedish. He assembled a group of fellow blacksmith artists, who reached out through their international network to invite blacksmiths around the world to participate in the project.
The response was immediate. To date, approximately 850 blacksmiths from 25 countries have contributed an iron rose to the collection. Roses poured in from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Germany, France, Ireland, and as far away as the USA, Chile and Peru. Blacksmiths even travelled to Malm’s workshop in Oslo to hand-deliver their pieces, one coming all the way from Australia. In 2011, the AUF leader Eskil Pedersen visited the smithy to forge a rose.
Many of those affected by the events on Utøya, and the preceding bomb attack in central Oslo, participated in creating their own rose in the smithy. Malm – a trained social worker – wanted to help these people process their grief through engaging in the creative process. In total the rose collection numbers almost 1,000. The roses will be assembled into a monument, due to be completed in 2016. Malm has met with many people who lost friends or family on Utøya, and has remained close with several of them. Life for them is slowly moving forward, but their huge losses are always present in everyday life.
A gallery of the roses, organised by country, can be viewed at http://jernrosen.no/?post_type=project