Grete Hjorth-Johansen, East London, UK.
Send me an email to grete[at]ghjstudio.com.
I am a London based Norwegian photographer, working on both commissioned and fine art projects. My artistic background stretches from mural painting to graphic design and later VJing for the biggest names and venues in dance music. I have previously taught photography and darkroom techniques at various colleges.
Bridging the gap between photographic and painterly aesthetics, I use a vibrant colour palette of lighting to explore and describe the moods, emotions and atmospheres that I experience around me. Love, grief, melancholy and anger are all recurring themes. Rather than documenting reality as it appears naturally, I aim to let my inner world spill its colours onto the surfaces of the simplest shapes, the mundane, the familiar. My approach is to forge an intimate connection with my subject matter, and in doing so revealing something previously hidden or overlooked. Using lighting as paint brushes, I aim to explore the shapes and textures of everything from vegetables to trees, turning them into otherworldly creatures and deities. While a sense of scale or natural context is lost, what is imagined takes over.
In my latest work, Tartarus, the old, pollarded trees of Epping Forest have caught my imagination as I explore the pained expressions that emerge once the trees are lit and isolated – almost like sculptures in a gallery. Pollarding – the repeated cutting of timber – damages the trees until they die, hollow, contorted and exhausted.
This made me think of Tartarus, the place of torture in the Greek underworld where the inhabitants were often forced to endlessly repeat futile tasks, much like the trees were cut over and over again. Each tree represents a deity with a connection to Tartarus. Beauty, suffering, myth and local history all come together in the series to reveal the power struggle between human needs for timber and nature fighting back.
1999: BA [Hons] Fine Art, Southampton Institute (now Southampton Solent University), UK
2021: Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize: Choice Winner
2020: 15th Pollux Awards, Fine Art category honourable mention for the series TARTARUS
2020: 15th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, Still Life category winner for the series GRIEF
2021: Fad Magazine online “The Top 5 Art Initiatives to Experience in Lockdown“. Tabish Khan, 28 February 2021
2020: Uncertain States Scandinavia, Issue 13 – Human Nature. November 2020
2020: The Earth Issue online “Grete Hjorth-Johansen – TARTARUS“. Anna Souter, 25 August 2020
2020: Tartarus – Epping Forest zine (self published)
Grants & Development Programmes:
2022: FATHOM Artists Development Programme at Four Corners, London
2020: Norwegian Embassy exhibition promotion grant
2021: Norske Fagfotografers Fond exhibition funding
2020: London Creative Network Programme at Four Corners, London
2020: Norske Fagfotografers Fond production funding
2022: ‘TARTARUS’, The View – Epping Forest Visitor Centre, Chingford, UK (upcoming)
2021: ‘TARTARUS’ (Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize Winners exhibition), London, UK
2014: Launch22, London, UK
2011: Commune Cafe, London, UK
2004: Harbour Lights Gallery, Southampton, UK
2022: Koppel Project Hive Summer Exhibition, London, UK
2022: Free For All by Sweet ‘Art, Art Bypass Gallery, London, UK
2022: The Other Art Fair, Kings Cross, London, UK
2022: FLUX Exhibition, London, UK
2022: A-Laget – utvalg sommer 2022, Galleri A, Oslo, Norway
2022: LoppingArt 22, Loughton, UK
2021: 6th Biennial, FotoNostrum Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
2021: Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize Shortlist Exhibition, London, UK
2020: FIX Photo Awards 2020 – Laura Noble Gallery (online exhibition)
2014: Global Flag, Spriten Kunsthall, Skien, Norway
2011: Showcase Cities, RichMix, London, UK