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 started dreaming about being an artist. There was always much farm work to do together with my family, but I also often spent time drawing, painting and creating things.
I remember sitting at a small river near the farm wrapping clay around a smooth stone. When it released from that stone, I was astonished that I just made a small clay pot. To make and 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 gave me all the possibilities to choose my education after regular school. My teachers would support me and pushed me to apply in different kind of art schools around the country. I got accepted.
But the art schools in the big cities looked frightening to this fifteen-year-old farm girl, so I chose to go to the only woodcarving school in Switzerland in the village of Brienz.
The study of four years included woodwork, art history, calligraphy and many other topics. After some time, I realized that I was struggling to follow the traditional way of woodcarving that was expected in this school - I struggled to find creativity in the way we were taught to work with wood.
What I always enjoyed, were the hours that we spent drawing or modelling clay to make small figures as a first step to a wooden sculpture. And there were my friends, other creative people in the same situation. This kept me going and I finished woodcarving school with diploma and chose to go to art school later, to explore different ways of expression.
Art school was a new, modern, totally free and over creative environment and I felt unsure what to do after being in a traditional school for so long. But I learned new techniques and ways of thinking about art: Art and art history no longer came from books but exhibitions, museums and teachers and students that were artists themselves.
After art school I got a job as Idea Designer in an innovative 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 and in winter 2008 I got to be part in a exhibition at the art museum in Biel with my art piece `Post-it Poetry` that had small, poetic drawings on these square paper stickers.
After this exiting time I also wanted to try other things and worked as textile surface designer for Creation Baumann in Langenthal, Switzerland.
In 2010, Ville who was my boyfriend back then, finished his studies as engineer. His first job was a project in the northernmost city of Sweden, in Kiruna. I followed him there and during that year, I worked as assistant to the ice carvers and as an artist my self in the Ice Hotel.
His next job brought Ville to China in 2011. We really wanted to stay together and got married quickly so I could move along with him. Half time in Beijing, half time in the six million city of Dalian, I was learning the language and exploring and experiencing the Chinese culture for more than a year.
In 2012, between China and the next project in Canada, I went to an art residency in Iceland where I experimented with land art, installation, photography and painting. I held a solo exhibition in the end of the six weeks residency. The art was later exhibited in a hotel space in Switzerland and at the Art Night in Brienz.
Arriving then in Montreal I started working as Mosaic Artist and worked as that for a few months before our first little daughter Elin was born in 2013.
In 2014 we moved for a few months to Switzerland before we started living in South Africa. Ida, our second daughter was born in 2015. We had our son Timo in 2017, while we still lived in Mount Edgecombe close to Durban, South Africa.
During the time of becoming a mother of three children, I moved naturally away from creative work for a while. But I fought to find a way and time to do some work again and started to come back to clay. In the beginning I did ceramic surface painting only but started to work with clay soon, just before we decided to move to Finland to finally settle down after our decade of travelling the world.
We chose this Nordic country because Villes Family roots were here, we loved the country and it was a dream home that we found in the Finnish countryside. Much nature and space, close to work and a city, to continue a good family life and with room for my dreams about a more art filled life.
Since 2018 we live and work in this wonderful rustic old farmstead. I had to start all over again, learn an other new language and all that comes with growing roots in a foreign country. But I was also constantly learning about ceramics and fought even harder to get back to creative work.
In this place my dream of having an own studio and my own way of expression has now come true; I have my ORAVA STUDIO to work in.
All these experiences and now our home with the ancient trees that grow around the buildings, the nearby forest, the skies and endless views over the fields give me all the inspiration to create again.
Janine Gerber Moser