Rage drawings out of the PredniZone – a therapeutic art project in more than one way

I spent the last month mainly with rage-drawing myself through a tough time. Those drawings were not made with my usual neatly adjusted ground sketches, they just evolved intuitively releasing an entire storm front of emotional mind rage. A series of 14 works came into existence, a therapeutic art project in more than one way. Drawing it all out helped me mentally as much as it helped me physically. I was able to regain my fine motor skills control, which got lost on the way during months of slowly increasing full body flare up. But let’s start from the beginning…

During the past few weeks I had to undergo once again Prednisone treatment. Prednisone is a corticosteroid commonly used for flare up treatment of chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases. I call them ‘magic pills’ because they work like magic when they kick in. They bring down the fever and throw a foggy blanket over the pain, catapulting me right out of a major fatigue into an episode of hyperactive energy. It makes me able to properly move my body again and burst with stamina to do all kind of activities. Entirely caught up in the ‘zone’ – the ‘PredniZone’, colibri style. Like magic. Until I have to lower the dose…

Prednisone comes along with a side effects listing longer than my arm (and I really have long limbs…) not to mention plenty of unpredictable drug interactions with all the other potent stuff usually taken by people with chronic illness. Most of the side effects are of physical nature, some short term, some long term, all nasty as hell. Some side effects are rather on the mental frontier.

The worst of all for me is how it meddles with my mind and mood, specifically when lowering the dose and ending the treatment. I call it the ‘steroid-hangover’. It feels like a artificially induced deep depression, like something pulls away the ground beneath my feet and I just fall and drown in a storm of despair and anxiety. I know it is artificial, I know it will pass, but this knowledge does not make it any easier at all. I still feel the impulsive urge to bang my head on the wall until I pass out, feel like suffocating on an emotional knot in my throat, feel like mentally exploding and imploding at the same time.

A flare up treatment usually starts with a rather high dose for some days and will be gradually reduced every some days, means I’m in hangover stage from the time of first dose reduction until some days after the intake has ended. And I have to deal with it every time again. This is the dark side of the ‘zone’…

During the first few days of treatment the pills worked their expected magic and I was highly active with exercises and works around house and garden. Also I tried to prepare myself for the mental effects of the upcoming dose reduction.

This time I decided for a different approach. I wondered what would happen, if I don’t wait for it to be caught in the storm, pulled under and get drowned, but instead consciously riding the storm, diving into the flood and swimming through it. Just drawing myself through it. Catching all the demons on paper before they can grow big enough to eat me up. And so it happened that I entered a different type of ‘zone’…

For the next three weeks I withdrew in my art room, pulled the blind curtains close enough to just let as much light in as I needed, chose randomly a gloomy goth music online radio station (Radio Cathedral XIII based in UK) in tune with my mood and drew the shit out of me. I was not approachable for anyone, barely communicated at all, only focused on ‘raging and puking’ everything out on paper accompanied by gloomy goth music.

On the begin my fingers were not yet able again to handle a pen for a suitable duration of time, so I started with graphite simply held and guided by my fist. The finger print marks left on Part II are a testimonial for my struggle with the paper. While working on Part III, my hand control started to wake up a bit and I gave my ink ball pen a try for the background.

While working on Part IV I already was able to guide the ball pen after my own will. Thanks to the ‘magic pills’ my fine motor skill control improved quickly. I decided to stay with the ball point pen, just one nib size, any hatching and shading finesse purely depending on the ankle and pressure of ball point on paper. Parts IV-VI show clearly the improvement of regaining the control over my fine motor skills. From there on I was diving deeper and deeper in the stormy depth of the ‘zone’, bathing in and swimming through the gloom and doom, however somehow managing to not going entirely lost in it. Day by day raging out on paper, all those other Parts came into existence:

Up to there I was caught into a weird mix of steroid-hangover from continuing dose reductions and the boost from the still remaining dosage which fed even more rage to the storm. As the final pill was taken and my own body had to get used to the idea of taking over again some sort of self regulation, I illustrated the final hangover period with those last two Parts:

Now I’m out of the ‘zone’ again. The flare up is doused down for now, most of the usual pain is back, and it may take quite some time until I can get a night’s worth of proper sleep again. Drawing it all out helped me not only to regain my fine motor skills control quicker, it also helped me to spill out the darkness before it could grow too big and drown me in anxiety. This time I made it through without the familiar built up of despair and existential angst. Even though I still was not approachable and sociable at all for a while and internally still quite a bit out of balance, I did not experience the full loss of inner control as during the flare up treatments respectively the steroid-hangover episodes before. And I ended up with an rather interesting art series after a while of not being able to draw properly at all anymore.

But why is this so important and what is this all about?

Doctors who prescribe such medications as prednisone barely prepare a patient for those aspects of the treatment. Most of them even lack the very concept of what that means for us and how that affects our life. And even if they have an understanding about the matter, they can’t do more than give us a warning heads up about what may happen. Those pills have different effects on everyone, so it is usually hard to tell in advance, who will react in what way. Dealing with all that fall out on side effects is part of our very own job as patients.

Living with progressive chronic illness, there are fights you can win and fights who are simply impossible to win, where one ends up burning out entirely from playing Don Quixote against the windmill, trying the impossible like Sisyphus. When you realize you can’t beat it, go with it. One of the most important lessons I learned so far the hard way. I implemented here exactly this lesson. I can’t fight against the mental side effects of prednisone withdrawal, but I can find a way to go with the flow. Instead of being caught in the storm just riding it. Instead of drowning in an ocean of dark mood and anxiety just diving in and swimming through. I will be still deep in the ocean, but under my own conditions and control. It worked. I came through it feeling less scarred than the times before.

There are plenty people out there with similar experiences regarding prednisone withdrawal or other mood affecting medications. Maybe this strategy may be of help for some. One does not have to be well skilled to rage-draw. It is not about presentation, it is about a personal over pressure valve. Rage-draw, rage-paint, rage-write – whatever helps to let it all out. It may ease the journey a bit.

If you are in a similar situation: I feel you!

If you know someone for whom this could be potentially of interest, feel free to share this with regarding person.

As for me, I’m just glad I made it through once more for now, though it surely wont be the last time this happens. But for now it’s over.

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Wecke Rockt’ – a special portrait of a special radio moderator and his shows

During the past weeks I was busy working on the ‘Wecke Rockt’ trying to capture the essence of the one-of-a-kind radio moderator Wecke with his two live show types “Wecke Rockt” [Wecke Rocks] and “Weckes Wecker” [freely translated: Wecke’s WakeUp show] running on RauteMusik Rock stream.

Having chosen an A2 paper sheet with an ink pen tip sized 0.03mm, it took me 66 hours of pure drawing time, not to mention countless hours browsing for reference pictures as inspirational guideline for all kind of details. The result:

‘Wecke Rockt’ – ink pen on paper, 42 x 59,4cm, 2022

The reason I decided to pick up the pen and create this illustration, portraying moderator and his shows in this manner, is based on my deep admiration of his work. Being a dedicated listener since more than 5 years I can confirm, his shows with their themed specials are more than just entertainment, they are well composed pieces of art ‘painted’ with music and moderation, passionately and meticulously prepared and served. He’s a master in storytelling around, through and underlined with music.
In the show accompanying chat he connects with the audience, offers even more background insights around the theme, generally creating a community feeling and an atmosphere of collective journey and exploration experience.

Radio moderator Wecke (Florian Weckwerth) is based in the German Hanseatic city of Lübeck and he likes to start his radio show streams in the morning. Besides his passion for music he has a deep interest in nordic culture. He’s a maker and creator, very crafty and has a small obsession with the Star Wars universe. Reviewing concerts and interviewing bands is an important part of his work, often collaborating with the musician and artist agency NOCUT. You may find some hints of all those facts in my illustration along with band logos and some more subtle hints of bands, to whom he has special connections and/or some deeper background stories. By the way, the desk corner streaming station with all the technical equipment down to the coffee mug is based on a reference picture of his real work space – that’s where the magic happens.

Each of Wecke’s shows is clear structured with some fix points around the theme part. One of those fix points is a weather report. Begin of 2017 as I was new on the rock stream and its chat, Wecke asked me, from where I’ve tuned in, which was and still is Abu Dhabi. As it was time for his regular weather report, he gave a breakdown about Austria, Switzerland and Germany, mentioning an interesting choice of areas, cities and towns, which appeared to me somewhat randomly chosen, and – to my big surprise – ending with Abu Dhabi and Moscow. As it turned out, in his weather reports Wecke usually emphasizes all whereabouts of listeners, he’s aware of. I felt welcomed immediately. Of course, ‘weather’ took a dedicated space in my illustration as well.

Now, if you are curious and eager for a cruise with the “Wecke Rockt” and somewhat skilled in understanding German language, follow up for show announcements on following channels:
facebook: Wecke Rockt and/or RauteMusik Rock, instagram: WeckeHL and/or RauteMusik Rock

To listen in and join the chat tune in rm.fm/rock

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Thesis/Antithesis’ – an art collaboration

I had the pleasure to create a synergetic artwork for a highly special ambient music album, while deep diving into the sounds of the very same. The music somehow is directly connecting to my neuronal network, grounding and calming, inviting my mind to float through the eternity of everything and nothing, and at the end guiding me gently to resurface again, while still carrying the feeling of deep relaxation and grounding within myself…

The result of this collaboration is the album ‘Thesis/Antithesis’, released by CoM (‘Circle of Mind’, a side project of Skadi). You can now download the album for free or a donation of your choice: skadi-music.bandcamp.com/album/thesis-antithesis

You definitely need to check this out, when you are looking for something for or to help with:

  • deeply relaxing
  • meditating
  • calming down a hyper sensitive nervous system
  • calming background music to help concentrate with studying and high focus demanding work tasks
  • enjoying calming ambient music in general

There is also a video file for ‘Thesis’ in the download package. My recommendation: Darken your room, lay down comfortably with legs up, throw the video on a screen and go lost in dream wandering while staring at it. For me it worked like a therapeutic deep relaxation experience.

Alexander Leßwing, the composing sound magician behind Skadi and side projects, is a dear friend of mine, and we were talking about a potential collaboration already since 20 years. I couldn’t have imagined a better piece of music for our long planned collaboration finally happening, coming along with such a healing component during the process of creation.

Please feel cordially invited to learn more about Skadi and his side projects, and enjoy listening into his impressive body of works. He offers all of his music for free download with the option to donate on his band camp page: skadi-music.bandcamp.com

Alexander Leßwing about his music:

Skadi was founded in 2001 by myself. The project combines dark ambient scapes with ethnic and ritual passages. The purpose of my music is a transformation of emotions and situations into sound. Thus, it’s mood if often deeply emotional and melancholic. My music is mostly available for free because everyone who wants to listen to my music should be able to do so regardless if they pay or donate for the music or not.
My side projects:
CoM (Circle of Mind) was founded in 1993 as my first ambient project. CoM has its influence from drone and ethereal ambient
Psychogram exists since the late 90s and is an dark ambient interpretation of psychic disorders.

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen – an invitation to design

[Deutsche Version befindet hier]

Recently, whenever I look into German and international Western news, even everywhere on social media, one topic is more and more present: the so-called ‘tinfoil hats’ and their weird conspiracy theories. Though I’m not sure why those get so much media attention at all, I have my difficulties as an artist and fact loving person to wrap my mind around the entire phenomenon and its unnecessary attention in all kinds of media. I’m in favor of the freedom that everyone can believe what they want, as long as they don’t hurt anyone. But seriously, not every believe/theory is worth to be promoted on a larger stage.

Not a day goes by without a new conspiracy theory being introduced, and I figured some of them have a thing in common: They appear to outmatch each other in absurdity and creativity, as there would be an art contest running for the award of most weirdest creative absurd idea. Well, creativity and art are concepts I actually can wrap my mind around. Looking at it like this, I realized that by all the absurd creativity behind some conspiracy theories, there is still a huge lack of imagination regarding designs in tinfoil hat fashion. Always the same basic version. So I decided to help out a bit…

Working on my version of #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen turned out to be a good way to channel all my irritation, frustration and bewilderment about the entire topic into something nice and funny. I want to invite all, who are equally upset, irritated, frustrated and bewildered by the rise of conspiracy theory attention, to take part in a highly satisfying art therapy session of tinfoil hat manufacturing. Create your master piece of hat fashion and post it on facebook/twitter/instagram adding #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen

It may not change a thing in real about the issue referred to, but it is a good exercise in crafting and may spread a bit of creative fun to brighten the day in otherwise gloomy times.

…stay creative, stay safe, stay home! …with or without tinfoil 😉

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen – an invitation to design

#TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen – eine Einladung zum Basteln

[for English version click here]

Wann immer ich in den letzten Tagen in Deutsche und Englische Nachrichten schaue, selbst überall in den Sozialen Medien, rückt ein Thema mehr und mehr in den Vordergrund: die sogenannten ‘Aluhüte’ und ihre verrückten Verschwörungstheorien. Ich verstehe weder, warum dieser Sache überhaupt so viele mediale Bedeutung gewidmet wird, noch wie man auf sowas kommen mag und daran glauben kann. Das fällt mir als Künstler und Fakten orientierter Person wirklich schwer. Ich bin schwer dafür, dass jeder glauben kann und darf, was er möchte, so lange er damit niemandem weh tut. Aber mal ernsthaft: nicht jeder ‘Goldene Reiter’ muss auf die Bühne.

Kaum ein Tag vergeht, an dem nicht die nächste Verschwörungstheorie sinnlos durch alle Medien getrieben und seziert wird. Einige davon haben etwas gemeinsam: Sie scheinen sich in Absurdität und Phantasie gegenseitig überbieten zu wollen, als würden sie zu einem Kunstwettbewerb um den Award für die verrückteste, absurdeste und kreativste Idee wetteifern. Das Konzept der Kreativität und Phantasie kann ich wiederum begreifen. Unter diesem Gesichtspunk betrachtet, wundert es mich sehr, dass bei aller Kreativität in Hinsicht auf die Verschwörungstheorien bisher der Aluhutmode jegliche Phantasie fehlt. Nach wie vor das selbe langweilige Design. Also dachte ich mir, ich helfe da mal ein bischen aus…

Die Arbeit an meiner Mixed Media Skulptur #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen war tatsächlich eine wunderbare Möglichkeit, all meine Irritation, Frustration und mein Unverständnis über das Thema und seine mediale Überaufmerksamkeit rauslassen zu können und in etwas Schickes zu verarbeiten. Ich möchte herzlich alle dazu einladen, die Lust dazu haben, ebenfalls diese kreative kunsttherapeutische Maßnahme auszuprobieren und auf diesem Wege Dampf abzulassen. Lasst Euch ein schönes Design einfallen und postet das Resultat auf facebook/twitter/instagram mit den Hashtags #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen

Das mag zwar am addressierten Schwurbelproblem und dessen medialer Aufmerksamkeit nichts ändern, aber es tut gut, ist eine schöne Bastelübung, mit der sich prima die Zeit zu Hause füllen lässt, und vielleicht auch ein bischen Spaß in den Alltag bringt.

…in diesem Sinne bleibt kreativ, bleibt sicher, bleibt zu Hause! …mit oder mit ohne Alufolie 😉

Posted in Allgemein, Kunst! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #TinfoilHatFashion #AluHutModen – eine Einladung zum Basteln

Home quarantine – Tips from someone with experience

The biggest challenge in being stuck at home is how to cope mentally with the situation. Due to chronic health issues and a suppressed immune system, ‘home quarantine’ similar episodes are very common to me, often lasting weeks to months, occasionally with my husband being on long work travels. I learned a lot of coping mechanisms. I would like to share them with you, in the hope it may help the one or the other.

  1. My home is my castle

Home is where I live. A safe place. There are always options to adjust even a temporary place of living more comfortable, with some personal touch. Surround yourself with things you love and you find comfort in. Create dedicated spaces for work, hobbies and sleep. If you life in a studio apartment, a colourful day blanket on the bed and/or a folding screen hiding the bed from plain side may help to minimize the ‘being stuck’ feeling. You would be surprised how much such small things can change your perception about being at home. Take special care of your home, because it is your place to be. Cleaning, fixing things, rearranging furniture, decorating… – everything possible what makes you feel more comfortable. Create a place where you want to be.

2. Structure, routine and rituals

Every person not having a out-of-house work can relate to that one: Maintaining a daily routine is of utmost importance. Especially when living alone and/or as couple. Going up to a certain time every day, the coffee/breakfast rituals, dedicated times for home office works, house chores, exercises, cooking/dining, reading/watching times.

As a couple, give each other some time and space during the days for doing ‘their own stuff’. Even when at home the entire time, it may help to still have some difference in your daily routine between weekdays and weekends. This helps to maintain a feeling of normality and not losing track of time entirely. A too unstable day/night rhythm can harm mental and physical health.

There are also plenty online initiatives offering exercise classes, learning new things, streaming of cultural input etc. Keeping oneself busy is as much as important as having some dedicated time to relax. Find dedicated times for all your tasks and needs. Routine and rituals help enormously to come through the days.

3. Combating fear and loneliness

Now we come to the most interesting and important part: How to combat fear and loneliness. Those are the true enemies in our all current situation.

Personal contact to people other than you live with is a no go. But fortunately we live in an age with plenty technologies helping us to stay connected. Social media, phones, messengers and video chat apps give us all the opportunity to check on each other, to talk, to stay connected. Feeling connected in separation, finding a new unity in separating ourselves to combat the spread of infection. And a good portion of humor. Support each other, encourage each other to come through this.

To combat fear is more difficult. Focus in the tasks at hand. There are things you can influence, and others not. Right now everyone of us is in the same situation. We do not know how much this crisis will impact our lives on the long run. Right now it is more important to be united in our separation to prevent the worst. Expressing your fears in some way is necessary to ‘let it out’, but getting lost in your fears needs to be prevented.

Focus on how you come through your day one day at a time. Stay in the now. Relaxation training and meditation may help to calm down and focus – you can find plenty guides online for free.

Talk about it to your friends and family (online/phone calls ;)), but also give some space in your talks to other topics.

Limit your daily media intake. Checking news every hour does not really help. Once or twice a day is enough to stay in the loop. Most importantly, don’t check news in the evening before you go to bed. Use the last two hours of the day to mentally disconnect from all the drama. Watching series or reading fantasy books may help to carry your mind away and have a better sleep.

Figure out which tasks will help you to find some inner balance balance and turn your focus from thing you can’t influence. There are various options to compensate and cope. For some it may be writing, colouring books, reading, listening/making music, fine art, arts&crafts, exercises, even giving parts of your home a new make over. Don’t underestimate the positive effects on your psyche of cleaning your house and cooking. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.

Wish you all the best, stay healthy, and especially: We are gonna make it through this!

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When an artist, an engineer and a cat need a new couch…

How to get a cat proof, rheumatic friendly couch with a seat height suitable for long legged people? A couch, which does not turn saggy and worn after just a few years of use, ending far too quickly as bulky waste? –  There is nowhere to find something like this in furniture stores, so we decided to build it on our own.

The ottoman is build from four wood palettes, which served as guest bed body by friends in their former life. For the other couch partition we took wood planks, formerly used as packing wood for machinery parts and discarded on a construction side. Custom made traditional Emirati majlis cushions ensure a highly comfortable upholstery.

For us humans the most important requirements for our new couch were comfort, sturdiness, long-legged-people suitable seat height and a design as per our liking. But we are not the only beings in this house with special couch preferences. There is also Mischief, the cat.

It was quite some fun, to transform the couch body into a cats playground. There are some gaps between the planks, offering a small labyrinth to explore and hide, one plank is wrapped in sisal rope. Hidden in the body is hammock stitched from an old tea towel and another pad made from old face towels, both serving as additional resting places. Using BBQ skewers as knitting needles, I turned more than 2km jute rope into scratch&rub proof pads. Ten jute pads cover the compressed-wood blocks of the palettes, one big scratch pad serves as front end cover of the couch.

This couch will definitely serve us well for many years. The body is sturdy enough to last for ages without turning saggy. In case the wood looks a bit used after a while, it can be easy fixed with some sanding and oil treatment. When the fabric looks too worn, we simply can order new cushion/mattress covers. But we definitely will not end up again with plenty bulky waste every few years and a need of a new couch.

Next project: a suitable couch table. Already work in progress.


Posted in Art Blog English, DIY | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

…I wanted to burn all my artworks…

Reflections of my debut solo

One year ago from today, on November 6, 2017, my debut solo opened, and still I haven’t written anything about it in my blog. I was simply too burned out afterwards. Now – one year later – I feel it’s time to finally share some thoughts and experiences about how the solo happened in first place, and what it meant to me for my personal growth.

Since I moved to the UAE I was was participating in group art shows, organizing art festivals, each time exhibiting just 1-5 works per event. I enjoyed the opportunity to add something ‘crazy’ to the showcase selection.  It also made me feel safe to ‘hide’ behind the group.

Many people told me during these years, I should come out with a solo show. I could not imagine an exhibition opening with me as the only artist at the centre of attraction. The very thought freaked me out. Besides, neither did I have the confidence to believe that people could seriously be interested in a setup of my works alone, nor that my skills and techniques were professional enough to not embarrass myself.

As you may already know, my art is very personal. It’s rather similar to a dairy people write to deal with impressions, experiences and working out personal issues. I think in pictures, therefore creating something is the straightest way to bring out my thoughts and emotions. Showcasing just one or a few works only offered a glimpse of my very own inner chaos, my own universe. Showcasing a bigger body of works would present me open as a book, vulnerable and exposed.

After a few years in UAE, Henosis – the artists Ashvin and B’lu –  happened to me. They are well known established artists in UAE’s art scene. They organized a lot of rather unconventional art shows in the past with quirky titles as ‘Mind your hashtags’ and ‘Ways to kill your boss’. They believed in me. Asked me to join them because they loved my honesty and association with my artistic process. They actually managed to trick me into the solo, because they knew from their own experience, this step will help me to become more confident about my art, myself and as an artist.

I was told, there is a gallery owner who would like to have a look at our artworks (Ashvin’s, B’lu’s and mine) to consider a potential collaboration. Ashvin and B’lu selected a body of my works and we let them frame nicely. The appointment was made by my dear artist friends at their art studio and we brought over a sample of 10 of my works. I was already excited and anxious as hell, because for the first time I was supposed to get feedback from a gallery owner. Approximately 30 minutes before regarding lady arrived, Ashvin told me, that one of the meeting’s reasons is to push my solo. I was close to hyperventilating.

Claude Habib, owner of La PAROLE Art Gallery, came in and immediately was in awe with one of my works without even knowing it’s mine. And so it began…

I had 8 months of preparation time left in my studio. The gallery expected: “Some more bigger paintings would be nice”. I worked hard, there was a lot in my brain screaming for release anyway. The necessary artistic support and guidance through that period came from B’lu. Especially the ‘bigger’ works brought me often on the edge of exhaustion, since my tunnel vision makes the basic composition in big scale quite difficult, though it may help a lot for detailed works. More often than not I was driven to the point where I seriously started doubting any of my works would be good enough for display. After many hours every day on my easel, my eyes were often so exhausted, that I needed to stop because I could not see anything anymore and all those lines I painted appeared to start moving and wiggling. Since I had a deadline, I needed to consider what part of my ideas I want to prioritize under which aspects of consideration of what I actually want to show of myself. Always the big question: What about me and how much of it I can manage to expose to public at once.

Each of my pieces took  usually 3-6 weeks working time.  Often I would panic about my skills and techniques. I never studied art, never created to impress someone else. It was always for me only. Without B’lu’s support I surely would have given up, gutted in fear. She helped me to find my own courage. As closer the curation appointment came, as less I could sleep, as more I freaked out. It did not really help either, that the appointment for artwork selection was postponed a few times on last minute. Eventually it happened and funny as it is, the gallery owner was surprised about my anxiety. She made her selection and appeared very happy with it. I told her about my fear and uncertainty, the feeling of ‘not being ready yet’. She just answered: “If you wait until you ‘feel’ ready, you will never do it”. The next two weeks I finally could sleep again. A comatose black-out kind of sleep.

The last three weeks before the opening were buried in last minute tasks. Coffee mug printing (not as easy as it sounds due to… you know… Abu Dhabi…), crafting the ribbon (…never liked the commonly used kitschy ribbons), crafting the obligatory ‘flower bouquet’, tailoring of an abaya and getting it embroidered with one of my artwork designs, framing of artworks, exhibition installation, baking cupcakes and organizing beverages and everything else for the opening catering, and so on. A lot what possibly could go wrong went wrong, but with support of my husband Gunnar and dear friends I managed all just in time…

I’ll never forget the feeling as we dropped the artworks at the gallery. The gallery was totally empty, waiting for my works to arrive. The realization of what just happened – delivering a big bunch of artworks to an art gallery neatly emptied out just for that very same reason – hit me like an anvil. I was breaking down crying during the ride back home. Two days later I faced the same feeling after my husband and me finished the installation under the gallery owners lead. Seeing an art gallery for the first time entirely filled with own works is so overwhelming! And quite strange. It’s a bit like in a mirror cabinet. Doesn’t matter where you look at, it’s always you looking back at you.

The opening came. Many of the guests were friends and artist colleagues, which made me feel comfortable soon. The special guest who opened the exhibition – Mr. Yasser Al Gargawi, Director of Cultural Events, Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development – brought two friends. One of them was responsible for The National Theatre, a venue where 3 of our AD Arts Collective art festivals took place. He appeared honestly happy to meet me, having heard about me through my work as organizer of AD Arts Collective in the past. We went around and he discussed with me every single artwork, including my ‘flower bouquet’, which actually turned out to be the most discussed artwork of the show and even got a sales request. Also a very big surprise was the fact, that Katharina Schuster, the Cultural Attachè of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, was attending the opening as well. Meeting her eventually led to this year’s exhibition project.

All who know me know how much I dislike posing for the camera. I had to look into lenses to such an extent during the opening, I got cramps in my cheeks by all those “smile here, smile there”. During all my previous openings usually the only mandatory picture was the ‘artist group picture’, but this time I was just alone. Most of my artist colleagues know about my dislike of posed pictures and me feeling not comfortable at all standing alone for that purpose. They all came together towards the end and surrounded me for one last …group picture. I had not to stay alone. A true gift of support.

While my husband was busy documenting the opening with his camera, our ‘wandering cam’, a camcorder, made its round through many hands. A lot of my friends recorded their impressions of the night, behind and in front of the lens. As I reviewed all those records the next day, I was touched to the heart. There were caught so many precious moments, small interviews, even a humorous ‘art critics’ discussion about all of my works from two friends.

Another huge experience through my exhibition was my very first art talk. After the opening I was so exhausted, still facing the art talk event. I had no experience or idea in how it’s usually supposed to be done, so I decided to not pressure myself with research about professional art talks. I asked the gallery owner to place chairs in a circle and simply made it a talk. 7 guests attended, and after 2 1/2 hours I had to break it up, because I could not speak any word anymore. I was so overwhelmed by their interest and feedback, and so drained after exposing so much of myself.

The biggest impact of a solo preparation is to bring an artist out of the studio into public existence. In my case: taking the pieces and acknowledging the context, the connection. Realizing who I am, what I’m doing and why. Realizing the organic growth of myself and my works. Figuring out about where I’m standing and where I want to go next. At least that was the theory…

After the exhibition I fell into a deep hole. For some reason I started doubting every positive feedback, every single praise of accomplishment. I started doubting the honesty behind all those words spoken to me. I wondered if people just spoke nicely out of politeness about my works, because I was the only artist on display and standing right there. I doubted the words of the gallery owner, wondered if she just was nice because I had to pay her a high rent for the gallery space. I felt so much on the very beginning of taking my very first baby steps in a direction of unknown destination. It was no more about the confidence about exposing my works, just exhaustion and the feeling of being ultimately drained and lost.

I wanted to go out in the desert and burn all my works in a huge bonfire (…previously I burned/destroyed big parts of my works, it felt awesome…). The only thing what kept me from doing it, was a series of inflammations in my body leaving me too weak for a desert trip. It is sort of an irony that it was my bad immune system, which kept me from another ‘cleaning’ art bonfire last winter. Instead, my body ‘inflamed’ and did the ‘burning’ for me.

The wounds caused by certain circumstances last year are now healed. I learned a lot and took my lessons out of it. I finally found enough confidence, to not hide in my studio anymore. Now I feel more comfortable with the idea, to showcase a bigger body of my works at once. The result was this October’s exhibition

Some impressions of the opening night and the works included:




Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Between Success and Overload – an exhibition summary

Nearly three weeks ran our ‘Inspired by the UAE – German Artists in Abu Dhabi’ art exhibition under the patronage of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, hosted by Etihad Modern Art Gallery.

It was a big success in many ways, a lot to be proud of. The feedback was just amazing and flattering. Compliments as “…one of the best organized exhibitions here so far…”, “…amazing marketing…”, “…very good curation and setup…”, “…so many visitors during the entire exhibition period…”, “…highly professional…” “…very good art, truly something different than the usual…” etc…

We did not have the luxury of a team of professionals working for us. In fact, we did it entirely on our own. And we barely new each other on the begin of the exhibition preparation. All what connected us was the German language. The reason to start such a ridiculous task was an offer from our embassy to support an exhibition project for German artists in Abu Dhabi. The offer was made barely one year ago.

I seriously did not want to shoulder such a task on my own, so I contacted Angelika Hamilton, another German artists I already knew briefly. Together we acted as organizer and curation team. We went in touch with Manuela Emmer, Petra Kaltenbach and Ulrike Krocker, and they joined our artist team.

The only person in our group with some direct experiences in organizing and curating group exhibitions was me. Though it quickly turned out, each of us has different competences to add and is willing to take over regarding tasks in preparation. We got some sponsorship to cover expenses as catering, brochure printing, and other setup related printing items. Etihad Modern Art Gallery offered us to display in their rooms. That meant we had display space enough to guarantee each of us a solo worthy representation about how living in the UAE has influenced our personal work. Together we had over 70 artworks on display.

Who ever worked with artists together, know how diverse, sensitive, emotional and ‘difficult’ artists can be. Now imagine a bunch of five artists, all of them female, barely knowing each other. And they are supposed to team work. Sounds like a highly explosive and ridiculous idea? – Well, yes it usually is. But we did it anyway. And we succeeded.

However, there is a reason that exhibitions of such extent are usually organized and curated by very well paid professionals. Those are supposed to guide the artists, keeping their backs free and make sure, the artists only need to concentrate on their own works and representing themselves during the exhibition.  As mentioned, we did not had the luxury of a professional gallery team. We did everything on our own. All the preparation works, the curation, the marketing, the designs, running all errands, the exhibition installation and de-installation, organizing two Art Talk nights and several guided tours/meet the artist events…

I’m really proud of what we managed together, though I seriously do not wish to repeat such a project in the same manner. Being not only artist participating in a prestigious exhibition, but also being curator, coordinator, setup worker and setup leader all in one person, is simply too much. Exhausting, draining, it brought me to my limits in more than one way.

Alone all impressions and feedback I got as an artist during the exhibition were so overwhelming, that I truly need some time to digest everything. The same counts for the realization about what we actually managed to accomplish as a team under these given circumstances.

Even though I would rather avoid another edition in same way, I do not regret anything. It was an awesome experience, a big gain of confidence and some new found clarity about who I am, what I’m doing, what I want and don’t want, where to focus next.

And most important: I found new precious friends…

Here some exhibition impressions in pictures:

Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art Exhibition: Inspired by the UAE – German Artists in Abu Dhabi

Begin of the year I became once more involved in curation works, this time together with co-curator Angelika Hamilton. We feel honoured and grateful for the amazing support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Abu Dhabi and Etihad Modern Art Gallery to make this happen:

In addition two Art Talks will take place on October 7 and 14 on 7:30pm, featuring Manuela Emmer and Angelika Hamilton on Oct 7 and Petra Kaltenbach, Ulrike Krocker and arsnecopinata on Oct 14.

From the press release:


“Inspired by the UAE” is the theme under which five of Germany’s most talented UAE based female artists bring together a body of work that illustrates how life in the UAE has influenced and enriched their artistic experience.
arsnecopinata, Manuela Emmer, Angelika Hamilton, Petra Kaltenbach and Ulrike Krocker use diverse and unusual techniques to consider family life, cultural immersion, transformative powers and human connections in a body of work that invites very personal reflections for all viewers.


arsnecopinata uses a figurative abstract style that focuses on what connects us as humans and how we profit by learning from and communicating with each other – especially among the diversity of people in UAE.

Manuela Emmer presents “MERGE”, a series of portrait photographs reflecting on families of various cultures and ethnic backgrounds living in the UAE, inspired by H.H. Sheikh Zayed and his vision of tolerance and co-existence.

Angelika Hamilton’s “Approximations” charts a personal story, measuring cultural immersion by using an object that intrigues most visitors on arrival to the UAE: The Emirati Burqa.

Petra Kaltenbach’s series “Transformation” brings the contrast between old and new to the canvas with ground breaking digital printing technique that involve rust.

Ulrike Krocker’s flow paintings transfer the vibrant and dynamic flow of the Emirates onto the canvas in mesmerizing swirls and curves that bind energetic forces into harmony.


Looking forward to see you there!



Posted in Art Blog English | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment