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(BACK) FROM OSLO WITH LOVE

Dear representatives from the Norwegian Embassy, Innovation Norway, The National Archives of Norway, Dave Gamble from Royal Albert Hall, family, friends and all of you who are so kind to be here this afternoon: 

It certainly is a great honour to wish you all welcome to the opening of the photo exhibition Back from Oslo with Love.

It feels great, and it feels right, to bring these photographic treasures back to London. Back to where they belong. 

These 60 photos capture the essence of pop culture in London during the 1960s – a period in time when London gained its nickname ”Swinging London”. It was the time of new fashion, like the mini skirt, the world’s first supermodels, like Jane Shrimpton and Twiggy, and some of the greatest bands in music history – The Beatles and Rolling Stones, to name a few. 

It is a coincidence, but a coincidence too good not to mention: Last night it was exactly 50 years since the Rolling Stones debuted in Royal Albert Hall in a headline slot. According to several sources hundreds of teenyboppers went – excuse my language – apeshit and rushed the stage during the Stones’ opening number, “Paint It Black”. A few broke the police barricade, and a mini-riot ensued. We are not showing photos from this event, but members of the Rolling Stones can be seen in other, actually more unusual, situations in photographs here today.

But, I am sure some of you ask yourselves, how on earth did these photos from a central period of London’s history end up in Norway? 

Let me tell you.

We stumbled over these 60 photos – and some 3 million others – in archive boxes in an Oslo basement in 2010. Saying that we accidently stumbled over them, is perhaps not completely correct, but it felt that way. 

These 60 photos – and as I mentioned, some million others – are part of Sturlasons Press Bureau’s archive. At the time of the discovery six years ago, the archive had been stored in that Oslo-basement for 35 years. Untouched. 

The press bureau is an important part in photographer Sturlason’s 83 year long history. Sturlason Polyfoto has through three generations photographed culture, private events, public happenings and royal affairs from its studio in Oslo. 

The press bureau cooperated with foreign press bureaus, and had an exchange-agreement, where Sturlason sent Norwegian photos abroad, and received photos from other countries – England included – in return. When the press bureau was discontinued in the early 1970s, the archive was moved to a basement, where it was left untouched until 2010. 

We were overwhelmed when we realized the quality and the scope of the archive, which through 35 years of storage had gained historical value.

In the early 1990s many photographers started scanning photos in their archives, to reduce the need for physical storage. But they forgot to keep the written information about their motives. The scanned photos were stored, but their history was lost. Not so with these photographs.

Photographer Sturlason has thus helped to preserve and later given us, who are living in 2016, an opportunity to gain knowledge about our recent history, mainly from the late 1930s to the early 1970s. Historians have looked through parts of the collection, and have confirmed that some of the motives shed new light over Norwegian history, including WWII.

This presents us, who have access to this cultural treasure, to a mission: We must, in different ways, present the content, and make it available for posterity. That is not a small task! One of our main challenges – besides just cataloguing millions of photos – is to credit the photographers. On the photos’ back we may read who, what, when and where – but the photographer’s name appear on very few of the photos.

In 2010 the Sturlason archive was recognized as a cultural treasure, and thanks to financial support from Fritt Ord and Art Council Norway the archive was moved to Riksarkivet, The National Archives of Norway. I would like to thank all of these institutions.

The collection exhibited here in Royal Albert Hall does not need much explanation – the photos speak for themselves, and the texts accompanying each motive put the motives into context.

As you walk around, bear in mind that these are press photos, often captured in a hurry, under conditions where the photographer rarely has been able to compose the motive. These photos represent skilled craftsmanship, without photoshopping afterwards. We want the photos to appear as true originals, we have not retouched them, only removed dirt and scratches.

For those of you who experienced ”Swinging London” in the 1960s, we hope this exhibition brings back fond memories. For the rest of us, I feel these photos offer glimpses behind the scenes, into a place and a time so important for popular culture around the world.

Before I let you go, I would like to thank to my father-in-law, in particular, but also to my mother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Sturlason senior, who have given me the opportunity and the confidence to work with this archive – a work in its infancy, which led to this exhibition. And also great thank you to Royal Albert Hall and Dave Gamble for letting us show these photos here in this remarkable venue.

I hereby declare ”(Back) from Oslo with Love” opened, and hope you all will enjoy it!

                                                                                                                                                       (Talen holdt i Royal Albert Hall)

Med hjelp av et crew ble utstillingen hengt opp i løpet av 8 timer – Bildene dekket 220 meter i den ovale gangen – som utgjør inngangspartiet til selve «hallen». – 220 meter med bilder. Litt magisk… for ikke lenge siden lå disse i en mørk kjeller.

Nrks London korrespondent Espen Aas og hans fotograf Johan E. Bull kommer for å lage et innslag til onsdagens 19:00-nyhets-sending. Mr. Gamble blir intervjuet.

David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) på scenen – kveld etter kveld løftet taket seg i Londons «storstue».

Omlag 46.000 mennesker har sett utstillingen! (12.000 på dagtid – de resterende i forbindelse med konserter hver kveld.)

 

Porsgrunn, mars 2018

«Vi Hyller Kvinnen» i Villa Frednes, Porsgrunn.  Vernissage kvinnedagen, 8 mars 2018.

«Vi hyller kvinnen» er ikke ment som en politisk, kvinnekamp sak. Ingen av oss er spesielt rødstrømpete. Vi vil simpelthen feire kvinnen! Vi ønsker og dele historiene. Vi ønsker å inspirere med disse beundringsverdige kvinnene.

Å bli invitert av kunstner Mona Stenseth Erlandsen (norsk billedkunstner, illustratør og tekstforfatter),  som første utstiller i Villa Frednes, var enkelt å takke ja til; Et ærverdig kulturhus og galleri i Porsgrunn, eid av Mona og mannen Marius Erlandsen. Fra deres residens driver de kunst atelier og bedriften Emmeselle AS, og skaper magisk stemning og en særegen atmosfære hver gang de inviterer folket inn. 

Mona Stenseth Erlandsen og jeg møttes i januar 2017. Hun hadde nylig overtatt Villa Frednes, og jeg så etter et sted å holde den første utstillingen i Norge. I arkivet etter Sturlasons Pressebyrå (1931-1974) ligger det ubegripelig mengder bilder, og uendelig mange historier.

Mona og jeg bladde oss gjennom utallige fotografier – og samlet et utvalg kvinner, som i sin tid, på 1940 – 50, 60-tallet – viste styrke, kvinnelist og modighet. En type karakterstyrke vi kanskje ser i en helt annen form i dag? For hva regnes som modig i dag? Hvilke kvinnelige forbilder har den oppvoksne generasjon nå? Hvem er vi som kvinnelige forbilder?

Finnes sånne fremdeles? – En kjenning måler sine egne dikkedarer mot sin bestemor (95). Rettere sagt, hva bestemoren ville ha gjort i en gitt tilsvarende situasjon. «Hu mor» er mor til 11, mannen var sjømann og de drev gård med kyr. Alle som har hatt en mann som er mye på jobb, burde skjenke ho mor en tanke. Alle som har mer enn ett barn, burde skjenke hu mor flere tanker. For ikke å snakke om at hun drev gård – tilnærmet alene!   Og med usikkerheten og all ventingen på denne mannen. Når været sto på, og stormen var ille. Bekymret hun seg? Klart det. Men hun sto i det. Klagde aldri. Gikk på med krum rygg, sterke armer og stolt, kjærlig mine.

Men vi i dag?! Finnes det sammenligningsgrunnlag mellom hu mor og vårt hverdagsliv anno 2018? Løser vi utfordringene med styrke – og list, og fremstår vi som gode forbilder? 

Vi ville invitere folk inn, – og jammen kom dere, så herlig! – for å dele historiene – og skape tid til fundering. Hva er modighet i dag? 

Salgsutstillingen hang hos Villa Frednes til 31. mars 2018.

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