SPRING FLING 2012 PARTICIPANT
Born in Finland and studied textile design at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Stuttgart, Urpu and her husband moved to Dumfries and Galloway in the 80s. Urpu started to work with clay when she was renovating her home which led her on to working with ceramics and making sculptures. Her work has been sold across Scotland and in international art fairs such as Dublin Art Fair and Affordable Art Fair in London.
SF: What do you make?
I make small scale mixed media sculptures but my main material is clay. I try to give all the works humorous aspects and titles. The works are almost like 3D cartoons, visual ticklers.
SF: Where do you make?
South West Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway, in the most peaceful scenic surroundings. My work space is a narrow porch end, heated by a wood burning stove. Organised chaos, only I know where everything is. When the sun shines it’s an oven and when not it’s a fridge.
SF: Why do you make where you do & How long have you worked here?
I was brought here by my husband, a Scot born and brought up in Edinburgh, in 1980. We had lived in Germany where he worked and I went to the Art College in Stuttgart, doing textile design. When we moved to Munich I had a gap two years as there was no textile course in the Munich art college. (Silly fool, why didn’t I do something else. ) After the daughter was born, in Galloway, and not needing so much attention any more I had more time to do other things. Like renovating the house. Thirty years on and it’s nearly done. At that time I wanted different tiles for the bathroom than were available in shops and thought of making them myself. Of course it went horribly wrong but I got a serious bug to do something with clay. That must have been mid 80’s.
SF: What inspires you?
Language is a great source of ideas. Just ordinary sayings, expressions, misheard words, spoonerisms, can give me the title for the next work and usually you can ‘see’ how it’ll look like. Of course what you see around you gives ideas too. It can be a shape, a glimpse of something and the mind kind of finishes it off. A piece of driftwood can be a great delight, when you see it and know instantly what it’s going to be. A pay cheque is a good carrot too!
SF: Where do you go for a break from the hard work as an artist? (Could be a 10min cuppa or a 3-month holiday)
I go to Glasgow. It is the counterweight to the green grass and bleating sheep. It’s all very well living and working here in tranquillity and beauty but I also need the sights and sounds of the city. It recharges you to see what other people make – old masters and new, to hear live music, see performances, talk to people. I usually come back a physical wreck but mentally refreshed.
SF: What is on the horizon for you locally?
More of the same. Just hoping to get bigger and better ideas for work.
SF: What is on the horizon for you nationally / internationally?
Always dreaming to be the Next Big Thing but realistically I’ll have to be contented with the work I do.
SF: What’s currently playing on your studio ipod / cd player / tape deck / record player?
I listen to any music with a good tune and lyrics, be it folk, country, jazz, opera. Favourite music is jazz, bluegrass, blues, Scottish americana. I don’t listen to anything usually while working as I need the space for thinking. I can’t listen to talking programmes when I’m working or driving as I find it very distracting and end up shouting at the radio. “You an expert!? Isn’t it blindingly obvious that…”
SF: Tell us something not many people know about you
Nothing I can tell in public about myself but my mother is an Olympic swimmer, 1952 in Helsinki, and my grandfather was the second cousin to one of the Finnish presidents.
Images (c) Urpu Sellar