Leif Stangebye-Nielsen

Silver and metal artist Leif Stangebye-Nielsen works with corpus. That is, objects with enclosing shapes with functional openings, whether it is made as a vase, such as a jug, cups or bowls and bowls.

Character tips

The experience of Stangebye-Nielsen's works is something that is largely conditioned by how they are presented. Just as the expression and meaning of an abstract expressionist painting depends on a holistic understanding of how it is spontaneously and riskily painted by an artist in dynamic interaction with tools and canvas, and also something that takes place in full, human-size proportions, it is equally important that the experience of Stangebye-Nielsen's works begins with an insight into how they are made.

All the works in this exhibition are cold forged silver or iron. The molds are forged, driven, drawn and soldered. The starting point for the silver work is thin silver plates in the content 925. This content in a thickness of between 0.8 and 0.9 millimeters can withstand the type of processing that makes it possible to bring something flat, through forging into closed, evenly curved bodies, such as them we see in the finished work. The shape is created by starting a fixed procedure for how the flat workpiece should be able to bend evenly in order to finally be able to come together towards a relatively large or small opening, all determined according to what the opening is to serve.

The actual workshop situation is significant. Metal artists at Stangebye-Nielsen's level use a myriad - it can be about approx. 100 - different hammers, many of which are specially made by the metal artist himself. The shape, size, and weight of the hammers are determined by the task they have during the manufacturing process. Stangebye-Nielsen uses both western and Japanese hammers, types that are basically different, but which can be combined and thus increase the artist's possibilities for expression. Although the process is called cold forging, heat is used throughout the annealing process. The metal is heated with a flame to around 600 degrees and then cooled and processed cold. A subject can withstand approx. 20 embers before the material weakens. The annealing serves to give the material the necessary softness and elasticity. The forging process is irreversible, ie if a part of the corpus is forged too thin, the work must be stopped.

The artist's form-creating process necessitates that the whole organism is set in motion. In this sense, this - which is based on ancient workshop traditions and techniques - is completely in line with modern art, which around 1900 began to emphasize that both the creation and the experience of art had to use all human senses and abilities. Not only are Stangebye-Nielsen's works made for use, they are also the subject (s) for consideration and reflection.

Leif Stangebye-Nielsen's works are modern. They have soft shapes and are polished to give beautiful, reflective surfaces. The shapes are both organic and mechanical. This ambiguity arises in that the main shape functions as a hull to which further shapes are soldered. The forging of the main body results in openings where a spout or a foot is to be soldered. These are in themselves forged forms. The tension between the organic and the mechanical reveals two of the sources of inspiration behind these works, Scandinavian Design (the organic) and Art Deco (the mechanical). As Astrid Skjerven writes in the book Art Deco - Funkis - Scandinavian Design (Orfeus publishing house, 1996): “After several approaches in the 1920s and 30s, not least in the Nordic countries, the machine aesthetics and geometric forms of functionalism had to give way to a more organic modernism. ” Although this is written on the basis of considerations about Arne Korsmo's object design, this applies to several Norwegian object formers.

Locating the works' expressions in such overarching concepts of style serves to guide the interpretation of Stangebye-Nielsen's work in a fruitful direction. The organic and the mechanical are united here since the most mechanical and machine aesthetic here lies in the streamlined forms of the works. Art Deco is the style where the machine and the aesthetics of use were sensually adapted to a broader concept of function than the purely technological. A car and a train should not only move fast, they should also have a shape that reduced air resistance and symbolized power and efficient movement.

The closest one comes to Stangebye-Nielsen's organic forms in Norwegian art history is probably silver work done for Tostrup in the post-war period. But very special for Stangebye-Nielsen's art is that, through the use of dark hardwood, he draws lines back to the elegant utility objects and interiors of the interwar period. In this way, his work becomes a postmodern dialogue with modernism, but without his claim to the need for time and the belief in progress. It is also a playful and culturally liberating aspect of Stangebye-Nielsen's work in that they are reminiscent of old toys, cars and planes. This is especially true of some of the jugs, where we sense shapes that are related to hoods, hulls and solid wheel arches. There is an original feature in this, to make things in silver that have otherwise been cast in plastic or pressed into tin and tin.

Leif Stangebye-Nielsen's work has all the sensuality good craftsmanship should have. His works are unique and handmade and they stand out by being unique figures. They appear as clear silhouettes in a world where we are overwhelmed by more or less well-designed objects.

Leif Stangebye-Nielsen's proximity to work process, materials and tools, makes him very responsive, for - sound. In order to keep the subject within the desired thickness and even curvature, not least the sound is important, the sound the hammer blows that alternate in power and tempo emit as a sign to the artist about where the next blow should be put and how hard, how fast and with what hammer . In the two iron bowls, he has wanted the audience to be able to experience the life of sound in the tactility of form and the weight of material. Therefore, a hammer has been placed next to it that the public can use. Hold the iron bowl, turn it on and listen.  


Leif Stangebye-Nielsen is a trained goldsmith and graduated in 1983 after 5 years of study at the Norwegian School of Crafts and Design in Oslo, where he is currently an associate professor. He co-founded the group TRIKK in 1983, a group of metal and jewelery artists who left their mark on the new, fresh design of the 1980s. Stangebye-Nielsen has exhibited separately in Stichting Puntgaaf Groningen in the Netherlands (1992), Lillehammer kunstforening (1995), Kunstnerforbundet in Oslo (1999), Galleri Format in Bergen (2004) and at Hå Gamle Prestegård (2005). He has also participated in a number of group exhibitions both in Norway and abroad. He is represented in all the major collections of handicrafts in Norway.
Stangebye-Nielsen received the Arts and Crafts Award in 1998.

Åsmund Thorkildsen

Museum director

Open every day from 11.00 - 15.00