Ólöf BjörnsdóttirÓlöf Björnsdóttir’s practice takes the form of actions, objects, video and photography. In her work “Woolenmaiden is a real life heroine in contemporary mythology. Possessing a magical quality, she is a fairytale hag who superheroishly gains her strength from wool; her costume is readily identifiable by the ridiculously tall knitted socks (invariably worn with high heels) and the fluffy helmet activating her super creative powers. Fabled Icelandic tribes woman, Woolenmaiden is possibly the most fallible hero of our time.”*
Ólöf Björnsdóttir’s practice takes the form of actions, objects, video and photography. In her work, Ólöf creates characters that explore human creativity and the power of the imagination. These include Woolenmaiden.
Woollenmaiden was delighted to announce the construction of her Woollenmaiden Hús in Dublin which is designed as an exhibition space for herself and a group of fellow artists from Iceland. Built from modern materials, it reflects Woollenmaiden’s ideas about contemporary living, a philosophy that emphasizes both personal and collective creativity as well as a radical belief in the power of art. In this way Woollenmaiden Hús is a decisive prototype for the future. Woollenmaiden is an art lover and the art world is her context.
True to her mantra ‘we are all creative’, her actions are almost always dedicated to liberating the uninitiated as well as her fellow art lovers. To achieve this ‘liberation’ Woollenmaiden has experimented with different techniques including massage, yoga, song, alcohol, terror tactics and presenting herself as positive role model. Her desire is to make her love of art contagious.
The participating artists are not only practitioners of merit in their own country but also have international connections. In addition they have that spark of ‘Woollenmaiden genius’. Like a greenhouse the structure is a place for living things, conceived as a hotbed of ideas in Icelandic, it represents a goodwill gesture from an art lover and supporter of culture to her friends. Importantly, Woollenmaiden Hús is a step towards a more ambitious long term project. That is to build a museum or cultural centre dedicated to Woollenmaiden, one which will accommodate a future ‘Woollenmaiden collection‘ and function as a base from which she can promote her unique belief system.
* Patricia Ellis, Flash Art, Mar-Apr, 1999
Curator Grant Watson talking on Ólöf Björnsdóttir’s Woollenmaiden (pdf format)
Ólöf Björnsdóttir is from Iceland but lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts in 1997 and moved to London later that year. Ólöf completed the Postgraduate Diploma at Goldsmith’s College in 1998 and graduated with an MA in Fine Art in September 1999. Woolenmaiden’s first public appearance was in a technical college in Iceland where she did a mock pole dance ridiculing the then latest addition to Reykjavik’s entertainment world.
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