Meet Your Makers: Flora Norwegica

Flora Norwegica

This weeks maker is Ceramist Tovelise Røkke-Olsen who, with her friend Mona Sprenger, is bringing back a centuries-old pottery tradition.

The Flora Norwegica is a vase that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It is handmade with a unique glaze and a distinctly Scandinavian style. Each one is one of a kind!

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Did you study ceramics at school?

I did, at Statens Kunst og Arbeidskole, which is now called something else, and I finished with that back in 1983.

What did you do after studying?

I was down in Oslo for 20 years, until 2003, working with ceramics and sculpture the whole time – with a few extra jobs on the side to make money. Then moved back to Trondheim.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Tell us about Flora Norwegica.

It is an extremely old tradition to use. There used to be a number of factories in Trondheim that worked in the same style, but now there is none – only me.

Mona:

It all started with a green ceramic plate and a green, perforated lump. It was all that was left at a flea market at Bøler in Oslo. I brought it home.

The plate’s label said Graveren. After a bit of research, I discovered that it probably was designed by Ragnar Grimsrud. He was the artist manager for Graveren Tegleverk in Sandnes, Norway in the thirties.

One day a friend who works as a curator at the National Museum in Oslo paid me a visit. She told me that the whole story began at the Dutch court during the famous tulip mania of the 1630s. During this period the vase “Tulipere” was created. The vase had multiple holes where the stems could be inserted. It made a splash among the privileged few of the upper class who could afford the precious flower. At its peak, the price for a single tulip onion could be ten times that of what a skilled craftsman would earn in a year.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Did you have any guide to get started?

No, just started trying. I started trying it one way, but quickly found a more practical way to do it that is probably more like the traditional method.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

How do you think the Trondheim art scene is? 

It is a very small environment here, but there is a good amount of fantastic artists. With ceramics, it’s a little difficult as there isn’t much education for it here. You find a little bit more down in Bergen and Oslo, but some people are coming back to Trondheim.

What is the best part about creating it?

Its very fun to work with, since its two parts, there is a lot of form and composition that you can work with. It supposed to be fun to make, so I’m always experimenting with different ways to form and glaze and everything.

It’s also fun to play with what you put in the vases, whether its flowers or random things you pick up out of the grass on your way home. You can keep things around as long as you want and change it when you want, it’s very fun.

Photo: Torleif Kvinnesland

Find out more:

Keep an eye out at Scandic hotels for some of Tovelise’s work!

Check out Flora Norwegica’s Facebook, right here, and Instagram for fantastic photos of the work, and to find out when you can take your own vase home!

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