Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tatjana Bladt-Cohen. Manifestations.

My time in this wonderful snowy bubble is drawing to a close, and I already know I will miss the beautiful calm and the quiet this space has granted me. With this I have been able to focus in on my work, thanks to the lack of distractions, and also the impossibility of comparing myself to others. While it has been sometimes quite confronting, these weeks have allowed me to become self reliant in this respect and be more confident in the artistic choices I have made whilst here.

I began with many grand ideas, but gradually narrowed them down to the concept of manifestations being my main project whilst I’ve been here. The concept is that by naming a thing, it brings it into being. This originates from many different stories in the past, one of which was the custom in Northern European countries of calling bears ‘brown things’, for fear that naming them would magically summon them to the village and cause destruction.

Then, I overlapped this idea with Finnish folklore of the vedenemo, and will-o-wisps and Näkki etc, and local and personal family history in a series of paintings. The paintings also bring in other layers such as story vs religion, child vs adult imagination, but my overall intention is to create a piece which anyone can connect to and perhaps then use it to contribute to the tradition of story telling.

On my return to Amsterdam I will continue this series, as I am sure there are many wonderous creatures yet to be captured by word, image and brush. And of course taking the Finnish strength with me.

The lovely view from my desk

‘Brown thing’

End of day

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tatjana Bladt-Cohen. Fairy tales, ponderings and more snow.

Working alone in a big building like the Nordic Art School is a funny thing. Despite being free to choose where I work, having the space to work on a massive scale if I so wished, I find myself in the busiest room, working on the smallest paper I have. With a big table filled with delightful plants on one side, easels and chairs on the other, I have placed my desk comfortably in the middle, looking out at the snow gently falling from the opaque sky. The silence of the school, the neighbourhood and my walks in the area has been so different from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, and yet has been very much welcome. This past week I put pen and brush to paper, pulling together stories of my musical great grandmother, tales of Vedenemo (the ‘mother of waters’) and imagery from this beautiful place.

Weekend walk in the brief sunshine


In the Studio

Prep and planning is key...

Getting started!


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tatjana Bladt-Cohen. The beautiful snow effect.

It has been a week.


A week of snow and seemingly perpetual white skies. Seven days of cold fingers scrunched up in mittens, treading carefully (in my fairly-old, barely-used, now much appreciated fur-lined boots) along icey paths scattered intermittently with gravel to aid pedestrians, but which then freezes again in a rather counter-productive manner, resulting in near collisions between my backside and sidewalks of death as I explored this lovely little town of Kokkola.

My name is Tatjana Bladt-Cohen, and I am a multi-faceted visual artist and writer drawing from a multi-faceted background. Before I arrived as the January ‘Artist-in-Residence’ here at the Drake Arts Centre, I was ambitious. I had enjoyed a lovely Christmas break in the sun in France, and I was ready to start the year running. I had so many ways in my mind that I wanted to connect this small town to the migration of the last 3 generations of my family, to the stories that have been written and those that I wanted to write, and to the beautiful landscapes of snow and isolation.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how this town, the light, the atmosphere, the weather would affect my thoughts and processes. I quickly became aware that approaching my time here ‘running’ was not going to work... Since this realisation it has been interesting to see how my ideas have changed and yet remained constant through this past week. The snow just makes everything quiet. The low light and early sunsets make the days so much shorter and the ice makes (the inexperienced) travel at a slower pace.

And yet. Because of all this, you become more aware. More aware of the fresh snow. More aware of the pink in the sky at 15:00, the darkness at 16:00, and the ice hanging from white branches sparkling in the lamplight at 17:00. And more aware that it is okay to take your time, both mentally and physically, in this special place, because there is magic hiding in plain sight.

Entrance for the Few

The Naked Chill

Frozen in Time.



My time here was aided by the fantastic STEP travel grant from the ECF and CdSP.