This is the story about what led to my ORAVA STUDIO.
I was born in 1986 and growing up on a little self-sustained farm in the mountains of Switzerland. Already as a child I knew I wanted to become an artist. There was always much farm work to do together with my family, but I also spent time drawing or painting or sowing... To create was always what excited me most!
Even though traditional craft was much more appreciated in the little village I grew up, my parents saw my passion for creativity and helped me to have all the possibilities to choose my education after regular school. The teachers would support me and pushed me to apply in different kind of art schools around the country. I got accepted.
I chose to go to the only woodcarving school in Switzerland in the village of Brienz.
The study of four years included, besides the woodwork, topics like art history, calligraphy or human anatomy. After some time, I realized that I wasn't finding creativity in the traditional way we were taught to work with wood.
What I always enjoyed, were the hours we spent drawing or modelling clay to make small figures as a first step to a wooden sculpture. This kept me going and I finished woodcarving school with diploma and chose to go to art school after, to explore different ways of expression.
Art school in Biel was a new, modern, totally free and over creative environment. I learned new techniques and art and art history no longer came from books but exhibitions, museums and teachers as well as students who were artists themselves.
After art school I worked as Idea Designer in an innovativation company called Brain Store. In the `Idea Factory` we created ideas for all kind of customers and topics. We used a fantastic amount of post-it stickers in every workshop.
In winter 2008 I was participaiting in a exhibition at the centre d'art pasquart bienne with my art piece `Post-it Poetry` that had small, poetic drawings on these square paper stickers.
After this exiting time I worked as textile designer for Creation Baumann in Langenthal, Switzerland.
In 2010, my partner finished his studies as engineer. His first project was in the northernmost city of Sweden in Kiruna, where we then went together. During that year, I worked as ice and snow artist in the Ice Hotel.
My partners next project brought us to China in 2011. Half time in Beijing, half time in the six million city of Dalian, I was learning the language and exploring the Chinese culture for more than a year.
In 2012 I went to an art residency in Iceland where I experimented with land art, installation, photography and painting.
My solo exhibition in the end of the residency was called 'far away'. The pieces were later exhibited in a space in Switzerland at Kemmeriboden and at the Art Night KUNA Brienz.
2012 arriving in Montreal I started working as mosaic artist for Mosaïc Surface and worked as such until our first daughter Elin was born in 2013.
In 2014 we lived for a few months in Switzerland before we moved to South Africa. Ida, our second daughter was born in 2015. We had our son Timo in 2017, while we still lived in Durban, South Africa.
During the time of becoming a mother of three children, I moved naturally away from creative work. But I found a way and time to do some work again and started to come back to clay this time. In the beginning I did ceramic surface painting only but started soon to work with clay as medium. 2018 we decided to move to Finland, to finally settle down after almost a decade of travelling the globe.
We chose this Nordic country also because of my partner's Family roots. We always loved the country and it was a dream home that we found in the Finnish countryside: Much nature and space, close enough to a city. A place to continue a good family life and with room for a more art-filled life.
Since 2018 we live and work in our rustic old farmstead.
Learning a new language and all that comes with growing roots in a foreign country took time. But I was also constantly learning about ceramics and pushing even harder to get back to creative work.
All these experiences and now our home with the ancient trees, the old buildings, the nearby forest, the skies and endless views over the fields give me more inspiration to create.
Janine Gerber Moser