In conversation with Orla Stevens and Eli Tausen á Lava
Written by Orla Stevens
In 2022 I was commissioned to create a new artwork in response to Eli’s composition ‘Søgnin um Kópakonuna í 10 Myndum’ - The Legend of the Seal Woman in 10 Pictures. This commission was generously supported through our crowdfunder.
Sagas & Seascapes Live at the Edinburgh Fringe
For each of the Sagas & Seascapes paintings, I have had in-depth conversations with each of the composers. These chats have given me insight to their approaches to composing, their thoughts behind the work, and the energy they poured in to the music. To get to know more about The Seal Woman, Eli and myself hopped onto zoom.
Through my conversation with Eli, I had the delight of discovering that this composition was originally inspired by artist Edward Fuglø’s series of 10 drawings:
“Edward Fuglø’s drawings illustrate the Faroese legend of a female selkie, a mythological creature capable of transforming from seal to human by shedding its skin, who is forced to live as a human when a young man from the village of Mikladalur steals her sealskin” - Eli
My approach to create this artwork was to continue responding intuitively to sound, as I have done through the series of artwork created for the Sagas and Seascapes program of music. For each piece, I have pulled the colours, line and marks that I see in my head as I listen to the music, and draw simultaneously while I listen. It turns out this process of intuitive and open minded making is one that Eli also shares. Through our conversation I discovered that this piece was composed in a similar way: looking at the imagery of Fulgø - and letting the music come free flow on piano, through play and instinctive response to the artworks by Edward Fuglø. This approach is very improvisational, and is open to lots of trial and error, until the natural result appears.
Initial mark-making to music
The key to many of my successful paintings has been to maintain a very open mind, and paint in a state free of judgment. I have found that this mindset makes space for creativity and honest work, in a very natural way. I think you can hear these shared qualities in Eli’s composition too - a total epic, if you haven’t heard it already you can here - which captures so much emotion, range of atmosphere and energy!
This commission began first by free drawing marks and colours on paper to the music. After I had built up a body of marks, I began thinking of the story of this folk tale, which is split into 10 chapters. Initially, I began to create collages, building an image which summarised each chapter.
The Seal Woman - Illustrating Chapters
On showing the collages to Katherine, she was instantly drawn to a specific collage, which for her summarised the mood of the piece and story. The scene is inspired by the setting, in the village of Mikladagur. In the tale, when the woman's seal skin is stolen, the seal women are dancing on the beach, in free and wild abandon.
From there, I worked up the collage - originally made on A4 paper - onto a larger 50 x 50cm canvas. The final piece blends acrylic paint, oil pastel, ink and collaged paper elements to create depth and texture, that you can hear so clearly in Eli's music.
Initial Collage to inspire the final artwork
This artwork will very soon be available as a limited edition fine art print. If you would like to reserve one, please get in touch!
'The Seal Woman' by Orla Stevens
Printed area: 25 x 25cm
Mounted with off-white mount-board
Gicleé Fine Art Print
To keep up to date, check out Orla & Eli's work: