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The Cover Story of Bjarne Froslev

 

Bjarne Froslev came into the world in a Copenhagen working-class neighborhood just after World war 2. Even though it was a time of much adversity, his mother kept it all together, providing a good family environment in which Bjarne and his three sisters could grow up. Their apartment was small so he moved out at the age of 15. Bjarne was fortunate to find a small loft (actually two loft storerooms put together) that he could call home. The environment of a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen provided a platform and the fuel needed for his deep political commitment as a socialist. As strange and unexpected as it may sound, Bjarne was initially trained as a bookkeeper.

 

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But his involvement in bookkeeping lasted no longer than the last day his training took place. The only observable difference in everyday life was the color of the tree outside the window, green in the summer and gray in the winter. He left that place on the same day training was over and began a training as a social worker. Bjarne’s social work began with drug addicts, criminals and children placed in boarding. He later worked in childcare centers and childcare organizations. Parallel to his occupation Bjarne married “the best woman in the world” with whom he has “three lovely daughters.” But social work would not be the end of it. A creative gene that he believes to have received from his mother and his father instilled in him a desire to create. His father was a great life artist and his mother created art with everything she touched. Bjarne grew up observing how everything around him was transformed. He points out that his career actually started in one class in elementary school where the janitor taught painting and how to work on rural cabinets in the evenings.

 

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From that point on Bjarne continued with attempts to create stoneware sculptures. Leather became a big part of his life because it allowed him to finance his training as a social worker. It all came together in his late thirties when Bjarne and his wife decided that art should become a fulltime endeavor. Sculpture took the top spot. Sculptures in stoneware, granite and leather were the mainstay of expression in art societies, galleries and his own traveling gallery. Leather sculpture is Bjarne’s particular field of work. The technique (and the art itself) comes from the 1500s when commedia dell’arte used leather masks for performances. “The technique for creating amazing leather masks was greatly forgotten over time, especially the Italian Satori brothers’ technique. I have developed this technique to create entire leather sculptures out of leather,” Bjarne says before sharing the three main stages of his sculptural work. First, a template in either wood or stoneware is built where the leather can be shaped and processed. Second, vegetable tanned leather, varying from 0.5 to 1.5 mm gets softened through long and hard machining. This loosens the fabrics and the effect of time in the leather. Finally, the leather is formed on the matrix. During this process, the leather is treated with heat so that details are fixed before doing further work. Bjarne is an inspiration and a testament that it is possible to follow three life passions, even if parallel.

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