For the past 20 years Leeds has been proud to display a collection of etchings by renowned printmaker Karolina Larusdottir. As she prepares to celebrate her 75th birthday next year we celebrate her life and works in a special solo print exhibition. Leeds is lucky enough to be showcasing several of Karolina’s etchings that have been out of circulation for some time including The Good Gathering, The Chat Up, The Boat, Tango, The Lover, Good Intentions, The Dark Forest, The Big Stage, Rok and High Tide.
A word from Karolina:
"The Craft Centre and Design Gallery have always offered an innovative, constantly changing series of exhibitions, representing talented printmakers of a very high calibre. It has been wonderful to be included among these artists and I am honoured to be invited to exhibit this group of etchings. Thank you for all your encouragement and support over the last 20 years."
Karolina Larusdottir - Solo Print Exhibition
3rd November 2018 - 26th January 2019
Womankind publication recently wrote about Karolina in an inspiring article which you can read below (May/July 2018 issue)
There is something theatrical in the spirit of artist Karolina Larusdottir, faintly reminiscent of Shakespeare’s As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” Life in her artwork is an unfolding drama of different characters, earnestly acting out their scripted roles. Karolina’s childhood experiences in Iceland framed her vision as an artist. “I spent much of my childhood with my grandmother,” she says. “My grandfather built Hotel Borg and they lived in the top flat there. I would go there every day after school. My grandmother always kept a silver bowl with sweets in it at the entrance. We would fill our pockets with these sweets every time we went – we were very lucky to have sweets like these.”
Larusdottir’s grandfather was a strongman with Barnum & Bailey’s travelling circus in America before opening Iceland’s first grand hotel. “It was a very grown-up world at the hotel; there were lots of events and parties and preparations for them and I would watch the chambermaids, chefs and waitresses prepare for these.” Such busyness is evident in her work, where characters dine together, or pay each other a visit, the seriousness of their everyday endeavours etched on their faces. And just like a theatre set, every scene is peopled with characters. “I only ever wanted to paint people; that’s my favourite subject,” says Larusdottir. “People and what they’re doing.”
Karolina was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, but for nearly fifty years resided in the British Isles, at one time taking out a studio in Cambridge. She studied art at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, graduating in 1967. Today, tourists who visit Iceland’s largest church in the centre of Reykjavik, the landmark Lutheran church Hallgrimskirkja – a striking white modernist structure rising 75 metres high – will find Larusdottir’s artwork hanging inside. Her oils, watercolours, and etchings are reminiscent of the Iceland she knew as a child: a magical time when she says, “nobody could do anything without other people knowing,” when there was no television, just occasions; parties, birthdays and being invited to people’s homes. While Larusdottir acknowledges that her characters might not look happy in their unfolding dramas, they certainly don’t look sad either. They’re just busy getting on with things. As Larusdottir likes to say, just people being themselves.
Pictured: High Tide