Artist Interviews 2013: Nik Christensen

Aritst interview 2013.10.12



Furious artist face ↑  He's still smiling no?

So, Nik… shall we begin?

What made you apply for the Kamiyama Artist in Residence program? 
I applied because I wanted to spend a long time in Japan to be able to work and to, yeah, see different types of inks, papers and just spend time here. This particular residency has the surroundings that I think are most suitable… well… not most, but very suitable for me to work in.

Describe your work in one word
One word… erm, I don't know what is aloof? What is the definition of aloof? I just like the word but I don't know if it describes my work! 

Do you have a special method for generating your ideas?
Not for my work? But aren't they connected to my work ideas? I mean, if I'm cooking I'll come up with ideas so… you want it for food or for my work? Well, I guess just sitting. Sitting down.

What is the most frightening experience you have ever had?
Erm… I think when I was 19 I was in the US and there was a tornado approaching my mum's house and on the news they told everyone to get down in their basements if they have one. It showed the paths of the destruction and the path that it was heading and it was heading kind of towards our house. I remember the sky just being green, literally green and swirling and the sound was like of a hundred steam locomotives approaching you. Everything was like buuungghhhhhhrrrgrghhhhhh for like, seemed like for maybe half an hour, or maybe it was 10 minutes… But the sky was green and I got under the foundations of my mum's house which was the only cement structure with my passport while my mum was sitting upstairs watching telly (television). It was like a crawl space and I sat there for like, 20 minutes and because I saw the destruction it caused and because there were a few of them (tornadoes) and the diameter of them was like half a kilometre, if that. But it was enough for me to be like, I don't want to go out like that.. My mum sat upstairs watching telly and I was like, ‘They're telling everyone to get down into a shelter or basement. My mum didn't because it was literally crawling into a foundation of concrete that was not more than half a meter high so for my mum to go down there was… She was like ‘If it happens, it happens..'!
That was for me, I guess, probably one of the scariest things… yeah… forces of nature! You have no control.. I guess there's many variations of it but I think those must be the scariest ones.

What is your favourite Japanese food?
Christ, that's a tough one. I'd say… okonomiyaki. Or, I would have to say, soba, one of them two.

What do you enjoy most about creating art?
Erm… I like the process the most. I like the times, the times when you might fail; you seem on top of everything then the next thing it's shite.  So, I like all those emotions that come with the process of making work.

What does Kamiyama lack? What does it need?
Erm… Christ…   A church? The Holy Lord, a saviour. No. What does it lack? You know what? Pffff… I don't know… er… maybe er.. one other nice restaurant!

How did you discover your passion for art?
I think it was not really a choice… clichéd as it might sound, I think I was always from a young age drawing and I always had an intuition that that's what I would be doing. I tried graphic design for a few years, I did fashion, I did er… designs that were embroidered on stuff, so I was always… And, my mum kept all my drawings from when I was a young kid maybe from when I was 3, 4, 5, 6 maybe. I was always drawing and it took time to shape up to what it is now. What I like about this is that I don't have to… I'm my own boss. I like that.

Do you think you have a particular technique/style?
I'm afraid I do but in small or large increments I try to get away from it every now and then – which is impossible but I think effort should be made to try… not necessarily break your style, but at least, try and evolve it.

Do you find art difficult?
No.  No..

If you had really long arms for one month, what would you do?
I would er.. Christ.. I would reach up for the sky and I'd be two meters closer!

How do you feel in Kamiyama?
I feel phenomenal, I feel amazing. I feel great.

How would you like your art to relate to Kamiyama and its residents?
How I would like it or how I assume it might relate? You mean relate to the people here or to me.. what? I never have an idea of how I want people anywhere to connect to it because that would be a bit of a… it's up to the people that look at it. Working here obviously, there are influences especially with such a unique space (Yoriiza). People might see connections but it's not up to me really. I just make the work! I can't… hope or claim anything you know..

What is the worst thing you've ever made?
Christ.. I think it's on the floor (in my studio) right now!

What do you think about this ham? 00011352.jpg
Hopper will probably love it. I think Hopper would really like this. That's my first thought. It's not the best of displays.. it looks strange.

What do you dislike about your work?
Sometimes maybe it's er.. it's er.. too rooted in what I know, but I guess that's.. I mean I make it so it's going to be rooted in what I know. Sometimes I feel that I need to get away from that, but that's part of the process and I can't really say I dislike it.

What is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?
Erm.. the worse piece of advice was to stay with my ex-girlfriend when I was about to break up with her; I didn't follow the advice, I broke up with her and that's how I ended up being with Andrea so.. that was the worst piece of advice from my best mate. My other best mate told me the exact opposite so it's good to have two best mates!

What is the best smell?
Fresh.. Fresh… something fresh. I like the smell of fresh mowed lawn I guess; it's a nice smell but I like pine forests too.

Who inspires you?
Didn't you ask that already Rufus? No? Erm.. A sheet of white paper inspires me.

Can you describe Kamiyama in one word?
Mountainous. Bit of a cop out!

If you lived in Kamiyama forever what would you do?
I'd start farming I guess. Growing my own vegetables, work in the yard. Would I start some projects other than farming? Yeah, I'd probably start some other projects. I've been wanting to.. another project would be all the stones at the river, I'd love to like, paint them then the water would wash it away so it would be a temporary kind of.. not paint them with anything figurative but just paint the stones along the river. Yeah, sounds intriguing doesn't it?

How do you feel when you show your work to the public?
Great! Excited I guess. Excited ‘cause it's the moment I've considered it done, finished so it doesn't belong to me anymore: it's out there. That's exciting.

If you were a sound, what would you be?
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Or I'd be one of those Mongolia monks. Wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. A Mongolian throat monk sound.

Do you have a weakness?
Yeah, I have a few weaknesses. Let me see if I can think of one… a weakness.. maybe they're not weaknesses really but.. Christ..   not any that I feel are disturbing I guess.. a weakness for good food and stuff but.. as long as I can eat it I'm fine.

Heel hartelijk bedankt Nik.



Itoi-san - Kanuma soil. Likes salmon sashimi, dislikes entrails of sea cucumber. Ru-san - Lancashire hotpot. Creative type. Likes being outdoors. Dislikes status. Together we are ITOI ARTS a project in divergent creativity in the mountains of Shikoku, Japan. 四国の山奥、多様な創作、アートとは。 //イベント時のみオープン// \\ふだんはただの家//

Articles by itoi+ru-san


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