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Painting (MA)

Heidi Sundvik

Heidi Sundvik is a Finnish-British artist based in London. She holds a M.Sc (Econ) from Helsinki School of Economics, PGCE from University College London and Fine Art Diploma from the London Art Academy. On graduation from the LAA, she was awarded Pure Arts prize, Liberty Arts award and a residency in Shanghai.

During her studies at the RCA, the direction of her work has taken a significant change towards contemporary issues, especially climate change and dementia. The changing world calls for an adjustment and the time to do it is now. The question is, what kind of a world are we leaving to our children and grandchildren?

'I care. It’s real. I have to deal with it. I can’t ignore it.'

Playful image of two characters having a serious conversation saying, 'We have something important we'd like to share.'

I had never heard of OK glacier in Iceland, until I was told of its funeral. The centuries old, powerfully, constantly moving body of dense ice had been defeated by the sun. What was left was scraps of ice and a trickle of water. But why should I care? What difference does it make if a glacier melts in Iceland? I have never even been to Iceland.

Maybe it was something from my roots that was reaching out. Deep calling out from deep. In my childhood in Finland, winter was an integral part of life with freezing temperatures and little daylight. I know what it feels like to live in the depth of darkness when white snow and ice offer a relief of brightness. And fun.

But the ice is melting. The water levels rise all over the world. Islands and coastal areas are in danger of being flooded and eventually submerged. Something is disappearing, much like a person suffering from dementia. A person's identity melting away until it is there no more. As an artist I cannot but respond to this.

Materiality and form fascinate me with the variety they bring into visual expression. I want to feel the roughness of the earth and the smoothness of the ice. The colours of the forest and the coolness of the ice over the sea. The cracks in the ice when it becomes too thin. The floating pieces disappearing into the horizon. The floating memories forever forgotten.

In all my work I seek to find sustainable alternatives to standard canvas or wood, such as up-cycled or found pieces of wood and paper. The discarded pieces found in the studio and wood workshop gain new life, new momentum and new influence. Recently the work has moved from pieces of plywood to torn newspapers, replacing defined form with accidental tears, heaviness with lightness. Words start to form in the middle of chaos. Underlying emotions take shape. The paper may be light but the message bears heavy importance. Yet the palette remains light. To me that signifies that there is always hope.

Three pieces of plywood held together with shaped pieces of MDF. Aerial view with sea, ice and land.
CracksUpcycled marine plywood, MDF and acrylics with media. 118 x 88 cm
Textured land and smooth ice.
Details of various 'ice and land' paintings
Textured land and smooth ice.
Side view of 3D elements.
Circular glacier surrounded by pieces of ice and land.
OK glacier meltingAcrylics on plywood 51 x 79 x 5cm
Shaped plywood, curved and a gap in the middle. Pieces of colourful land masses hovering over the gap.
Plywood, cardboard, acrylics.
Same as previous painting, but showing a green reflected glow on the wall behind the painting.
Paper cut to shape, organic and hard-edged. Streams of colour or glacier floating down the page.
PathwaysAcrylics on paper
Similarly cut shaped paper. White paint in middle, otherwise a blur of colours with a dark tone.
Can we control this?Acrylics on paper
Paper cut to shape. Greyish and dark tones, movement.
ScaffoldingAcrylics on paper
Another piece of paper cut to shape. A whirl of dark grey, white and earthy green circling.
WhirlwindAcrylics on paper
Same image as with statement
Honest discussionAcrylics on paper, newspapers
Poster like colourful painting with newspaper clippings attached to it saying 'How do we fix the future water crisis?.
Know, hope and do!
Similar poster but with a message of dementia
There once was...
Similar poster, no clear message
Life in the city
Similar poster, message about life in the sun
Disappearing dream