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Anna Lilleengen

Diving deeper, after treasure.

Anna Lilleengen is a visual artist working mainly with the medium of photography. For her MA in Time and Image Based Media (2012 – Harrogate School of Art & Design/Leeds Metropolitan University), she created an ongoing series of work that sought to explore the nature of the wilderness forests in Scandinavia where she spent time growing up. By using a Victorian full-plate camera and her own physical hand processing technique, she was able to examine wider themes of mortality and physical transience against a backdrop of spiritual and cultural permanence, that she intuited strongly through her roots and connections to these woods. 

In her work for HOARD, she goes further into her cultural and familial history, using a new format (a medium format 1930s camera with 120 film) to delve deep into the hoard of memories from her Scandinavian roots that have accumulated and helped form a cultural legacy from which much of 

Taking pictures of the farm where she spent summers in her childhood, she seeks to understand and placate the tension which growing up and living between two cultures creates. Sets of lab/contact prints are arranged into graphic groupings that are placed around large black and white giclée prints from Tales from the Forest, her MA project. Anna says:

“Memories are experienced in a random and often unwanted way. I wanted the presentation of these pictures to suggest the disrupted and random way that memories seem to appear. On closer examination, we often find that there is a uniting theme to the seemingly random display of images emerging from our subconscious. The graphic organisation of the images sets is to suggest the way we experience the feeling that we get from these reminiscences, which is often beyond our rational grasp, but experienced more like shapes and geometry are: on an entirely subconscious level.”

She hopes that by showing some of the real life around the Tales from the Forest project, further light might be shed on the motivations for that series. “There is a wistfulness and wonder about the place in the forest and about my memories there that needs expression. It has been good for me to seek out and attempt to crystallise these memories and impressions. The more I can isolate them and name them, the easier it is for me to incorporate them consciously as an artist in my work.”

On memories, culture and legacy: “Our culture is all that we've got to make us who we are. It is what we draw on as artists and as such is extremely precious.” 

“We need to hoard and treasure our intuitive knowing from the intrusive gaze of an always-on social and media culture. Like Walter Benjamin identified in his 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, each original work of art has an 'aura' about it and there is a gaze that the audience directs at it that seeks to get closer, to know all about it and ultimately to consume and destroy it. This operates as much on the level of individual as it does on the work of her identity and work draws.

In our culture we need to work hard to maintain our own aura: to defend our discreteness vis-a-vis mass culture; our distinctiveness and sense of dignity and identity. In the world of connectedness we are used to consuming and being consumed hundreds of times a day. We need to ringfence off and protect our own precious interconnections and intuitions – and hoard them like treasure!”

All Work by Anna Lilleengen


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