August 31, 2009

Lighting the Way Between the Visible and the Invisible

An Interview with Designer Roseline de Thelin

Part 1 of 2 (link to Part 2)
Click on any image to increase size to original quality

This is the story of The Crystal Spider
Who started her days by painting and more
Later helping in great places where others
Would sing of battles won and love that was lost

You see, The Crystal Spider had learned
About how to enjoy creating in a great place
Of beauty, history, romance and culture
Yet she wanted to see more of the world

One day as Spiders like to do she asked the
Wind to take her to a distant land where
She learned of new ways and inspirations
So much so that she asked him to take her back one day

Over the next years she would return to this
Magical place to learn and to feel the ways there
And it was here that one day she found the Magic Stones
That sang to her of places beyond and between

The Crystal Spider eventually landed on an island
Of great freedom and peace and it was here
That she began to use the feelings the Magic Stones gave her
To make new webs that sang stories of the Light and the Earth

Her webs were beautiful, drawing others to view them
From around the special island filled with flowers and friends
To see how she would make mirrored and jewelled
Webs that would transform the way their eyes could see

This was a special beginning time for the Spider even as
She travelled more, even to a land with a language unknown,
Learning a new way of looking at the world and hoping for
Life even if there was a fear of a Death that might befall

Today the Crystal Spider spins her pieces as the
Heavens send her messages, playfully sharing
The hopes and dreams even the smiles of Time
And Man, across the seas and the boundaries
In the realms of Light

Forgive me all, I certainly don’t mean to make light (no pun intended) of
Roseline de Thelin’s stunning collection of art – which spans painting, photography, jewellery making, sculpture and so much more (noting as well ‘The Crystal Spider’ originates from her collections and even her own contact e-mail address). But since I began learning about Roseline’s interesting journey to reach the place she is today, I noticed that I always had the feeling of just reading an ‘Aesop’s fable’ or children’s story or even fairy tale whenever I viewed her work. It’s hard to explain, yes, but perhaps it is from the sense of play and innocence she includes both as she works and in her works. Or perhaps I, too, am receiving some of her special ‘radio’ signals that broadcast their own special form of inspiration.

From the days of receiving her Master’s Degree in Arts Management in Paris and later as a stage manager and artistic coordinator for operatic production for the Chatelet Theater in Paris and the Palais Omnisports in Paris Bercy, Roseline’s journeys have taken her to some fascinating places – both literally and figuratively. She would later enjoy a one-year Residency Scholarship for painting and sculpture in India, returning several times over the next years to this land where she would find so much inspiration. It was also here that she would eventually purchase 20 kilograms of semi-precious stone beads and start working with quartz and other gems. And her love relationship with light – and a means of expressing this love – would begin to flourish as never before.

Since then Roseline has developed a very unique and stunning visual style, creating among other objects kinetic mobiles, light reflectors, light installations, chandeliers ... and that’s only just to name a few. She is also well-known for her sparkling light projections and even the hauntingly beautiful multi-media performances that she often arranges to accompany her exhibitions and releases of new works. Ziggy Nixon is very pleased to catch up with Roseline, who graciously gave us a few moments of her time, interrupting her busy schedule working on new projects through the unrelenting summer heat of the Spanish island paradise of Ibiza:


Roseline, I notice that the descriptions about your work and even different pieces feature both a kind of ‘spiritual’ or even ‘cosmic awareness’ (be it from the Mayans or Chopra or others) plus even a touch of fantasy or folklore to them – for example, I enjoyed your description of ‘
Time Smiles’ as being ‘a cosmic and poetic project.’

But the more I looked at your different pieces (your web-site is fantastic, by the way!!), I also sense as well what appears to be a good dose of philosophy. Do you consider yourself – or perhaps better said your work then to be philosophical in nature or in it’s message?
I always find myself drawn to subjects or forms that question my own perception of reality. And as we are all mostly fixed in our own pre-determined perception of reality, I like to create pieces that play with our perceptions and senses. By doing this, I am trying to open new possibilities on an existential level.

As I evolved in my creative process, I came to see life as being full of parallel possibilities and realities – or even dimensions if you want to think of it that way. And light became very naturally my medium – my choice for a language or vehicle with which I could play with illusion and reality.

I don’t know if you’d consider that philosophical; perhaps it’s metaphysical? Either way, my work can definitely sometimes be very profound – even though I don’t like to be too serious when I’m exploring such questions or especially when I work. My creative process is very playful and I feel an endless, almost child-like thirst for discovery.

I also try to bring the viewers into this questioning experience in a lighter way, easing them into an understanding through their feelings and sensations with a piece. And light is such a sensual medium. So what counts first is what people feel when they see the work. If this experience leads them deeper into the concept and context of inspiration, then I am happy.

Where do you think this comes from?
I see myself as a sort of receptor-emitter, kind of like a two-way radio. Subjects come to me like energy waves which I somehow download! I get a vision, a dream and then it unfolds, grows and finds it’s shape. I feel I am only helping it take form.

The downloading step is the fun part! After that comes all the technical and organisational tasks. To me, it is a very magical process that gives both pleasure and pain.

A couple of technical questions if you don’t mind: looking again at ‘Time Smiles’, you use photographic prints on aluminium as part of the medium. How were these created?
I love to photograph light in all it’s manifestations. In this case, the prints on aluminium are photographs I took of various light sculptures of people. I made then a series of photographs shot around the work (soon to be seen on the web-site).

Afterwards, these are printed digitally on a flat bed printer using inks which have a thick mat texture. Another interesting effect is achieved because the ‘colour’ white is not printed, which leaves parts where the reflective aluminium is still visible. That is difficult to see in the photograph of the print. But I quite like the result and have received a good response from the public for these works.

Do you also handle the electronic part of your works? It seems this aspect would be difficult to manage with some of your pieces, that is, in terms of combining the functional elements (wiring, bulbs, etc.) of a piece with the limited space or fragile materials?
I generally handle the electrical mounting myself, learning along the way when I use new technologies. When I need electronic programming or other, more complex effects, I find people to do the necessary work.

For example, with the ‘homo luminosos’ in the exhibition ‘Time Smiles’, I prepared the characters in a 3D animation program and then created a mapping for the optic fibres. That was definitely a bit complex for the first one. Luckily, I know a specialist nearby who can help with these kind of technical issues. (shown here: pieces from ‘Changing Weather’)

You often include ‘performance art’ – mixing drama, story telling, dance, music and more – with gallery introductions and new releases of your works. Why the attraction to this kind of presentation?
After the conceptual and technical preparation of the show, I invite other artists – including musicians, dancers, theatre actors – to help me create a performance together in the décor and atmosphere of the exhibition. I define the first conceptual frame lines and we start from there. For me, using this platform of the exhibition to ‘reflect and play’ with other artists is a very juicy experience. This is like the icing on the cake for me!

I especially love the ‘ping pong’ action of the creative dynamic, that back and forth in the creative process where we grow from each other and with each other. And especially when showing work, the platform of the exhibition gives me a whole new space-time possibility to present my artistic vision. And I love to use this way of presenting my work to push myself forward to the next quantum leap, both conceptually and technically.

Being located on the island of
Ibiza allows me to create and collaborate in this way a lot. Ibiza is somewhat of a ‘microcosm’ that offers a soft and friendly ground to experiment with creative interaction. In fact, I would actually love to apply more of my work in creative groups like this for both theatrical situations and interactive installations. Plus, the platform of the exhibition gives me the possibility to record the work in order to present it later via catalogue, DVD, web-site presentations, and more. In this way, I am able to offer new concepts to my web of clients for project work.

Forgive me for asking what is perhaps an obvious question, but where would a piece such as ‘Homos Luminosos’ most likely be placed or otherwise said, to whom would it be sold? In cases like this, do you design for art’s sake or are you typically creating pieces primarily based on commissions or other assignments (for example, I’d love to find out how Ute Hübler – who I know from other
projects and artists – fits into all this interesting work!)?
In this case, the work is sold to the public as single art pieces.

In terms of timing, one exhibition project every 2 years feels like a good rhythm now. The rest of the time I work on assignments or commercial applications of my concepts and techniques. I would say that about 70% of my work is designing decorative pieces – derived from my different concepts – which are commissioned by private clients, decorators and architects for public or private spaces.
This is where Ute and I fit together perfectly, because she does such a good job of promotion with the professionals like architects and interior designers. She really helps translate my own vision into the kind of work the different clients need for their various projects, spaces and more.

Continued in Part 2


All images and other materials used with express written consent of the artist. These may not be used or copied in any way without permission of Roseline de Thelin.

Kindly note that some images have been modified slightly for either the purpose of sizing or to include more images (e.g. as used in combination). In all cases, please refer to for full details, including materials, photographic credits, original lay-outs and more.

1 comment:

Francesca Prescott said...

What a fascinating post on an incredibly talented woman! Roseline, your atelier is like some sort of wild and wonderful techno-trip into another dimension. Your work is stunning, magical. I'm really looking forward to another visit.

A très bientôt,

xx Francesca