In the artist’s studio

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

Ulrika Lundmark has become an established name in Norrbotten’s art world. In the studio at home in Sävast, she tests the limits of clay.

Outside the large windows, the Lule River glitters and the autumn sun makes Ulrika Lundmark’s showroom bathe in light. In the past year, the art exhibitions have replaced each other and now the remains are crowded on shelves and tables. Here are ceramic sculptures in the form of birds, boats, bowls, faces, figures and much more.

– I work a lot with raku, it’s crackling. I think it’s more fun to roll the clay and I make a lot of sculptures. I try most things, but it is usually the ceramics that are in focus, says Ulrika.

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A little further in, the studio part of the room begins and this is where the magic happens. Ulrika stands at a workbench and opens a mold mad from plaster. She has put a puzzle of clay in different colors, rolled and pressed out in the mold. Now she carefully takes out a speckled patterned horse and begins to trim the joints.

– Right now I am coloring clay with different color bodies and oxides so that the base itself becomes multicolored. Then I will put on a transparent glaze and burn it in raku. I do not really know what it will be like, it’s a bit of an experiment, says Ulrika.

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An exploratory journey

She likes to look at how other artists work and get inspiration for new methods. She tests, fails, learns and gets new ideas while working.

– The mistakes, they are the best. It’s like an applicant, I’m looking for new ways to do it all the time. For me, art is an exploration of how I can do different things and how far I can push the limits in the possibilities of clay.

The more she works and tests, the more ideas she gets. For Ulrika, the work is not about following a vision to the letter, but rather about the journey ahead and what happens along the way. Maybe the result will be a completely different one than the basic idea and Ulrika thinks it’s fun.

– You can not influence Raku to one hundred percent. The cracks depend entirely on what temperature it has when you pick it out, how long it is in the air and how long you have it in sawdust so that it can burn. You can try to influence it but not fully. I like that.

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Bubbling copper paint

Ulrika brings out a bunch of white bowls that were burned once, glazed white and will now get more color. She mixes hand soap, water and copper carbonate in a mug and then blows into the liquid with a straw. Large bubbles form and fall on the bowls. At the second firing, the green color flows out and forms a dreamy shimmer.

– The favorite moment is probably always to open the oven, when you wonder how it went and can start to peek inside. It’s exciting, says Ulrika.

Then the bowls with the name Northern Lights over snow are ready to be delivered and these have just been ordered by the municipality of Boden as official gifts.

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Ulrika Lundmark8

The hobby became a career

Ulrika has a professional background at the payroll office in Boden municipality, but her artistic interest was already there when she was a child and she took her first ceramics course at the age of 20. However, it took until she was 35 before she took action and started studying art at Sunderby Folkhögskola. The third year she chose a three-dimensional specialization and she enjoyed the school’s creative environment so much that she continued with the pedagogy line.

After her education, she resigned and began freelance and temporary work as an art educator at the same time as she created her own art in her spare time.

– Since 2015, I have been doing this full time. I’ve always thought this was the most fun and I felt that if I was going to do it, I had to do it now. You can not wait and wait for the perfect opportunity. And it went well, nothing terrible happened, says Ulrika.

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Influenced by life

If you look around among Ulrika’s collected works, you see a part of her life and what influenced her. On a pedestal there is a group of white-clad monkeys gathered around one who is lying down. They were created after Ulrika’s father’s funeral. On another wall hang paintings depicting boats and faces in various combinations.

– You get colored by what you see on the news and I thought it was so awful with all the little kids who drowned in these boats. So there were a lot of boats and faces.

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There are also many birds and horses that Ulrika is fascinated by and shiny reeds after inspiration from the vegetation around the river below.

– Being out in nature is a good tip. I’m fine here where I live. When I go down to the water, I come down to a calm level. I think that if you feel comfortable, it’s easier to work too, says Ulrika.

The studio is located in a farmhouse next to the house where she lives in Sävast. Here she is close to town and can easily get by bus, car or bicycle. In addition, her children, mother and mother-in-law live very close by. #

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Ulrika Lundmark12

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