“I get grumpy if I can’t work with my hands”

Her paper creations have featured in Royal Copenhagen display windows and her installations are bought by art museums and galleries. Right now Veronica Hodges is working on a fantasy world of 200m2 forest for the Rødovre Centrum mall in Copenhagen. We asked her to answer ten quick questions.

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When did you first realise that you had a creative talent?
“My father was an artist and my mother always encouraged me to tell stories so I guess I never considered doing anything other than working with art.”

How did you enter the world of paper art?
“I began working with paper in 2007, then as a statement against the rapid changes and waste in the fashion industry. I sewed seven dresses that were worn by seven different women of various ages and the idea was to create an event where the models wearing the dresses would walk into the water so that the paper would dissolve and become part of nature. It would be a reminder that we are all mortal and however beautiful a dress is, it will sometime become part of the big system of our Earth. The project was a success and instead of sinking the dresses into the water I got to make more so that I could spread my message even wider.”

How would your define creativity?
“I believe everyone has to use their creativity in one way or another or we get stuck in existential brooding. The creativity that comes from our hands and thoughts is a never-failing wellspring and I believe every individual decides for him- or herself how much access we should have to it. For example, I get grumpy and easily irritated if I don’t get to work with my hands. There were periods when I thought that I have to shape up now and get a real job. But I always end up being unhappy when I don’t get to devote myself to creative work with my hands, regardless of whether that has meant financial uncertainty.”

Where do you look for inspiration?
“Nature is of course my biggest source of inspiration. I’ve realised that if I can do something that makes me feel good and be happy, like taking a walk or swimming in the sea, then I get such a creativity boost that I work far more intensively and focused for the rest of the day.”

What is the most common question about your work?
“It’s probably how can I live from my art and how do I sell it. Almost all of my customers are in Denmark and Norway, and usually they are commercial commissions. I decorate shops and dress their windows, so then my creations have to be more part of a whole experience. But I also do some pure art installations at galleries where they buy my art. I have to work with both these types of commission.”

What is it that keeps you intrigued about paper and paperboard in general?
“I love the fact that paper can be so different to work with depending on the variations in the texture. It’s also a kind of science to optimise the paper’s qualities depending on what it is to be used for. I always have to take account of how to use the paper in the best way when it has to be folded, cut and hung up. If I make an artwork to be hung by itself on the wall, I don’t have to consider the material’s properties so much. But in my installation of trees and hanging leaves, I have to use different qualities of the paper depending on if the leaf is hanging at the top or bottom of a long chain.”

All in all, what is the most complex paper construction you have made to date?
“Right now I’m working on a project for Rødovre Centrum, a shopping mall in Copenhagen that is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. My task is to create a 22-metre-long tunnel of paper that stretches over a staircase inside the mall. At the end, feathers will be spread about in the air and a peacock made of paper will also stand there on full display. The project also involves a 200-square-metre forest of paper and more than 2,000 spreads of paper cut leaves.”

Related article: Q&A: Jean-Benoît Lallemant

What is most challenging about working with paper and paperboard?
“For me, my work is about constructing something and I have to put a lot of thought into space and mathematical calculations. But I like that aspect of the projects. I also feel that you have to work on a large scale to get a really good effect. Fifty sheets of paper in the air looks like nothing.”

What are the most important tools in your work?
“Of course my scissors and the fishing line I use to hang my works up.”

What are the most distinguishing features of a good paperboard?
“That it is both flexible and thin. It has to be strong but still not too thick. The paper has to let light pass through it without it thereby being too fragile.”  

Read more about Veronica Hodges’ work at veronicahodges.dk




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