Exhibitions & Projects

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    Nanna Abell, PRE-FALL 2013 (BETONFLAKON), 2013

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    Elmgreen and Dragset, When a Country Falls in Love with Itself, 2008, © Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset/BONO, Courtesy Statoil art programme

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    Jacob Dahlgren, The Wonderful World of Abstraction, 2015

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    Sigurður Guðjónsson, Recorder, 2010

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    Marianne Hall, Mourning, 2015

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    Timo Heino, Gravitation, 2015

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    Michael Johansson, Facelift, 2015

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    Otto Karvonen, Alien Palace Birdhouse Collection UK-Harmondsworth, 2015

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    Tove Kjellmark, Naked, 2009

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    Anne Koskinen, Lotta (Foundling), 2013

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    Mariken Kramer, Patterns of Inclusion, 2013

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    Maija Närhinen, Pile, 2015

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    Gudrun Nielsen, Labyrinth, 2015 (detail)

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    Laila Pullinen, Pollux, 2000

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    Karianne Stensland, Splendour, 2015

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    Harmut Stockter, The Mole Defence Academy, 2015

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    Jarno Vesala, Medusa, 2008


4 February 2015 - 15 May 2015
Wednesday–Friday, 12:30–5:30pm or by appointment

RBS Galleries, 108 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3RA

PRIVATE VIEW: 4 February 2015, 3:30-8:30pm
Prince’s Gardens, Imperial College London, the Goethe-Institut London and the RBS Galleries in South Kensington, London

Royal British Society of Sculptors (RBS) is delighted to present SKULPTUR, an exhibition of contemporary sculpture from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Encompassing indoor and outdoor sculpture, video, installation, and performance, it will be the first ever large scale group exhibition focused exclusively on Nordic sculpture in London, and features the work of many artists who have never exhibited in the city before.

Opening on 4 February 2015, the work will be displayed at three sites in South Kensington: the RBS galleries on Old Brompton Road, the Goethe-Institut London, and Prince’s Gardens, a public square owned by Imperial College London.

The exhibition comprises work by seventeen emerging as well as established artists who were selected from open call and by invitation by a panel including the renowned British sculptor, Richard Wentworth. Exhibiting artists are: Nanna Rützou Abell, Jacob Dahlgren, Elmgreen & Dragset, Sigurður Guðjónsson, Marianne Hall, Timo Heino, Michael Johansson, Otto Karvonen, Tove Kjellmark, Anne Koskinen, Mariken Kramer, Maija Närhinen, Gudrun Nielsen, Laila Pullinen, Karianne Stensland, Hartmut Stockter and Jarno Vesala.              

Says RBS Deputy Director and Curator, Claire Mander: “SKULPTUR offers a glimpse of the strength and range of contemporary Nordic three dimensional practice and provides the opportunity to explore its distinctiveness.”

A publication accompanying the exhibition will be available in June 2015.


Programme of Events
Wednesday, 4 February 2015

3:30pm  Unveiling of Outdoor Sculpture Prince's Gardens
Imperial College London
  Otto Karvonen South Kensington
  Gudrun Nielsen London SW7 1 NA
  Laila Pullinen  
  Hartmut Stockter  
  Work on public display from 5 February
Open all hours
4:30-5:30pm           Video Installations
Tea and cinnamon buns served
Goethe-Institut London
50 Princes Gate
    Exhibition Road
  Sigurður Guðjónsson London SW7 2PH
  Mariken Kramer  
  One day event open 11am-7pm  
6:30-8:30pm Private View Royal British Society of Sculptors
  Nanna Rützou Abell 108 Old Brompton Road
  Jacob Dahlgren London SW7 3RA
  Elmgreen & Dragset  
  Sigurður Guðjónsson  
  Marianne Hall  
  Timo Heino  
  Michael Johansson  
  Tove Kjellmark  
  Anne Koskinen  
  Mariken Kramer  
  Maija Närhinen  
  Jarno Vesala  
7pm Performance of Splendour by Karianne Stensland  
  Exhibition open   
  5 February-15 May 2015  
  Wednesday-Friday, 12-5:30pm  



Nanna Abell
Born 1985, Denmark

PRE-FALL 2013 (BETONFLAKON) takes the form of a magnified Chanel No. 5 bottle cast in concrete. Using a technique similar to that adopted in the construction of ancient mosques, Nanna Abell combined musk perfume oil and iron oxide with the mortar, creating a sculpture of profound oppositions.

Nanna Abell’s work is often the result of her intimate interactions with specific materials, and the way they intersect with more collectively created or corrupted objects and images. Elements of her work look inwards towards personal drives and choices, while others willingly adapt and exercise external physical principles, cultural factors, inventions and images. 

Jacob Dahlgren
Born 1970, Sweden

The Wonderful World of Abstraction removes the geometric, optical painting from the canvas and comes alive as the viewer steps inside, and disappears into a sea of multi-coloured satin.

Jacob Dahlgren’s work is concerned with a dialogue between the authoritative singularity of pure formal abstraction and its position within a variable, complex and social shared culture. Dahlgren’s repetitious collections of ubiquitous and ordinary objects, often domestic, industrially manufactured, stand in their gestalt form as proxy for High Modernist Abstract Painting and for all of the ideological territory that 20th Century Art Theory has staked out for it. 

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    Elmgreen and Dragset, When a Country Falls in Love with Itself, 2008, © Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset/BONO, Courtesy Statoil art programme

Elmgreen & Dragset
Born 1961 Denmark & 1969 Norway. Live and work in London and Berlin

For When a country falls in love with itself, 2008, Elmgreen & Dragset placed a mirror in front of the sculpture of The little mermaid, a Copenhagen tourist attraction and Danish national icon created by Edvard Erikssen in 1913. Taken from Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the mermaid who gave up her life and identity to gain a human soul and love, the statue has over the years been the site of political activism and abuse. By placing a mirror in front of the work, the artists encourage the viewer to reflect on sentimentality, narcissism and the status of sculpture as a public work of art.

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have worked together since 1995, creating a varied oeuvre encompassing large scale installations and sculpture which draws on architecture, performance and the theatrical to create subversive, often barbed but sensitive and humorous commentaries on social norms, social spaces and issues related to identity. 

Sigurður Guðjónsson
Born 1975, Iceland

In Recorder, 2010, two discs rotate above a pool of water, into which droplets of water fall, producing an effect of simultaneous sound and rotational movement, and drawing the viewer into a powerful visual world.

Sigurdur Gudjónsson’s practice ranges from single and multi-channel video works, sound and installations, where image, sound and space form a seamless whole. These become settings for movement and sound that have laws of their own and generate a compelling atmosphere. 

Marianne Hall
Born 1936, Sweden

In Friends, 2012, the palm-sized terracotta sculpture of a bird and a human as express protest and appeal, affection and care. They are timeless in their expressions, yet in the middle of the present day agony.

Initially exploring the human body, Marianne Hall went on to use the world as her model: “The clay in my palm became almost a part of my body, there was a connection between my emotions and the clay. Once again I learned to see and to tell what I saw. I got a new language, a language for my emotions!” Hall's terracotta sculptures blend contemporary and ancient to produce work of enigmatic timelessness.

Timo Heino
Born 1962, Finland

Gravitation, 1999, consists of dust bales hanging from the ceiling, to which a stainless steel ball filled with lead shots acts as a counterweight. Comprising dust vacuumed from over 70 different homes, it explores the physical reality of the world around us; mixed matter that is usually put to one side is transformed into a mass that questions cultural ideals of purity and concepts of boundaries.

In Timo Heino's work, industrial and natural materials are juxtaposed with each other to form a series of oppositions; geometric and organic, light and dark, rough and smooth. As in the world around us, organic and artificial live side-by-side, and through his play with materiality and use of dichotomies, Heino challenges the viewer with a series of open-ended questions.

Michael Johansson
Born 1975, Sweden

Michael Johansson will be creating a new sculptural work on the façade of the RBS building using locally sourced materials, continuing his ongoing project exploring how matter in our immediate surroundings affect us by transforming vacant, sometimes overlooked, empty spaces into temporary walls using ordinary objects as building blocks.

Michael Johansson works with ordinary recognisable objects, but in a way that distinguishes them from the ordinary, juxtaposing them against each other or representing them in a new context. By morphing these objects into precisely stacked rectangular shapes, connected to a certain location, Johansson separates the objects from their original usage, and invites the viewer to a shared space where the familiar meets the unfamiliar. 

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    Otto Karvonen, Alien Palace Birdhouse Collection UK-Harmondsworth, 2015

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    Otto Karvonen, Alien Palace Birdhouse Collection-Campsfield House, 2015

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    Otto Karvonen, Alien Palace Birdhouse Collection-Pennine House, 2015

Otto Karvonen
Born 1975, Finland

For Skulptur, Otto Karvonen continues his series of Alien Palace Birdhouse Collection, this time creating functional birdhouses that borrow their form and materials from British Immigrant Reception Centres, who house those without proper identification documents and are awaiting deportation or asylum processing.

Karvonen specialises in temporary installations, performances and sculptures in public spaces. His work may be described as situation-specific: they are developed in close interaction with their surroundings, taking into account their spatial and temporal dimensions. Karvonen's modest, humorous and ironic interventions confuse our perception of everyday reality, and often comment on pertinent political, economic, social and religious themes, though carefully avoiding obvious or forced statements.

Tove Kjellmark
Born 1977, Sweden

In Naked, 2009, a professional surgeon removes the skin from a toy panda in the operating theatre of Sweden’s largest hospital. Naked documents a live experiment, at once beautiful, tender, provocative and disturbing. Exploring life, death, empathy and the gestures of caring, the work ultimately confronts us with a skeletal machine and the question of what exactly we have witnessed through this ritualised stripping.

Tove Kjellmark's diverse practice includes live performance, sculpture, video and drawing. Kjellmark’s work searches for another nature, which she describes as “a nature that refuses to accept a difference between technological and natural forces, that refuses to accept a given difference between human life and animal life, between mechanics and organics”.  

Anne Koskinen
Born 1969, Finland

Anne Koskinen's starting point is the Southwest Finnish landscape, with boulders transported by the ice sheet of the last glaciation, Bronze Age cairns and geological shore formations of stones – her everyday environment. For her recent series entitled Foundling, Koskinen turns her attention to stones found from her own backyard.

Anne Koskinen is a conceptual artist working in various media, from marble sculpture to detailed watercolours and installations. Koskinen is especially intrigued by how the immaterial concept and the visible sensual image and object relate to one another. 

Mariken Kramer
Born 1972, Norway

Patterns of Inclusion investigates ideas of social inclusion and mechanisms of exclusion through the metaphor of a Norwegian children’s ring game. The game can be seen as a reflection of the individual as a social being, constantly striving to be part of the game, part of the community. The work was produced in collaboration with Sofienberg Secondary School, whose students have a minority background and limited residency in Norway.

Mariken Kramer’s projects are largely based on an interest in underlying mechanisms of interpersonal encounters and relationships, as well as the vulnerability of the individual within the social group. Whether Kramer’s works are video, sound or photo collages they are linked thematically and address social and personal issues related to being human among other humans.

Maija Narhinen
Born 1967, Finland

In Pile, 2012, Maija Närhinen poses the question of how many pictures and pieces of paper do you need to clarify an issue. In this work, a pile of paper has filled up a room entirely and, as a consequence, it is now pouring out through the door.

Maija Närhinen questions the impossibility of representation, illusion and the reliability of visual perception. Now that our image of the world is scattered and flooded with constant information pouring from all directions, these questions of representation have become increasingly pertinent.  Närhinen's utilises drawing and painting, combined with elements of sculpture, to deconstruct and reconstruction the concept of representation.

Gudrun Nielsen
Born 1951, Iceland

Labyrinth, 2010, choreographs the viewer's experience, resisting the notion of  a complete overview or focus, and creates a renewed engagement with the surroundings it is placed within.

Gudrun Nielsen aligns herself to a modernist-based formalism with minimalist overtones. Drawn to clear and harmonious proportions, her large-scale sculptures are influenced by cultures such as Japan.

Laila Pullinen
Born 1933, Finland

Hephaestus was the Greek god of blacksmiths and sculptors, and this implied process of giving shape informs Laila Pullinen's sculpture of the same name. The work retains the dimensions of an adult human, yet has strong abstract leanings. As such, it is in Pullinen’s words, “an allegory for fixed, yet taut and strained motion”; of the abstract taking shape, of a state of perpetual becoming.

Laila Pullinen is a Finnish Informalist sculptor known for her large-scale bronze and granite sculptures, as well as environmental pieces and experimental techniques including copper plates formed with explosives. Her works are permanently on show in her sculpture park, The Nissbacka Manor Sculpture Park.

Karianne Stensland
Born 1969, Norway

For her performance piece, Splendour, Karianne Stensland is hypnotized by a professional hypnotist in front of a live audience in order to create a sculpture out of stone.

Karianne Stensland´s artistic practice explores and questions gender, power and hierarchical structures. Her oeuvre comprises elements of sculpture, drawing, text and music, often manifested through performance, video and installations. Improvising both the work process and the methods use, results in a haphazardness that lends the projects an aspect of coincidences and humour. 

Hartmut Stockter
Born 1973 Germany, lives and works in Denmark

The Mole Defence Academy, 2011, was inspired by apparent instructions from a test lab mole at Copenhagen's Institute of Biology. Using a device called a 'Talpa Communicator', it appeared possible to translate the mole's brain activity into simple statements, and Stockter uses this scientifically unfounded material as the starting point for his sculpture.

 Hartmut Stockter's work often take the form equipment for a day trip. Some are designed for use within a specific type of rural or urban landscape, others are easily portable. They are handmade devices, apparently assembled from various materials such as metal, wood and plastic, in the workshop of an inventive craftsman, creating quirky instruments for adventure.

Jarno Vesala
Born 1977, Finland

In the video and audio installation Medusa, 2008, the viewer finds themselves peering into the darkness above their heads to find the image of a young girl dancing and jumping, her thudding footsteps reverberating throughout the space. 

Vesala´s installations combine sculpture, video and sound to create a powerful atmosphere. The protagonists in the work face inwards and belong to a world of their own. Although drawn in, the viewer remains in the role of an outside spectator, and this sensation of being left outside is a theme Vesala explores throughout his work.


Terry New PRBS

Terry was the Head of Fine Art and Head of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools, London from 1986 to 2011. He is a practicing sculptor and has had solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, Martini Arte Internazionale, Turin, Italy and as well as having work in public and private collections including The Art Gallery of Western Australia and The Sharjah Art Museum and Merck, Sharp & Dohme, UK. He is a Fellow and President of Royal British Society of Sculptors. Terry chaired the jury. www.terrynew.com 

Nina Wisnia

Nina trained as a dancer at the Balett Akademien in Stockholm and then as a visual artist in London attending Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design and The Royal College of Art. Nina has written and illustrated 4 books published by Editions du Rouergue in France and Sweden, for which she was awarded the Opal Book Prize and Bologna Book Fair Award. Formerly a graphic designer in the Arnell Group in New York and London, she currently pursues her own artistic practice and is involved in a variety of modern and contemporary art projects. 

Richard Wentworth, Artist

Richard Wentworth is a chronicler of daily life. Since the 1970s he has played a leading role in British sculpture, isolating both the formal and sculptural qualities of everyday objects. His extensive archive of photographs, ‘Making Do and Getting By’ (1974 onwards), captures the provisional ways in which people modify the world they inhabit. It suggests an infinite syntax of adjustment, modification and appropriation. The private smile which spectators experience when looking at Wentworth’s work is associated with a deep human capacity to associate the inventive and creative with an internalized highway code for survival.  He was recently Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art and formerly Head of Sculpture at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford.

Hannele Tilles

Hannele Tilles has curated seven photographic exhibitions in Finland and has just finished researching and writing a book documenting Finnish recording artists, early recording techniques and television programmes. She has a long standing interest in art, particularly sculpture and has been involved in the commissioning of several pieces of sculpture. She also has links with the Finnish Society for Sculpture. Hannele has sat on many judging panels including for FIRST@108 Public Art Award at RBS.

Claire Mander, Curator and Deputy Director, RBS

Claire works with emerging and established contemporary artists and sculptors through collaborations and projects in both the public and private spheres. She has extensive experience in working in various museums, auction houses (in London and Paris) and not-for-profit arts organisations.  Most recently, as Head of Contemporary she set up a contemporary gallery within an existing modern commercial gallery in London and curated exhibitions of work by contemporary artists working in all media.  She obtained her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2004. Claire is Deputy Director and Curator of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.


SKULPTUR is generously supported by two UK based philanthropists and patrons of the arts who wish to remain anonymous, and