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in January 2003
just a few weeks before holding an
exhibition in Oslo
FIRE destroyed her studio 
and most of her planned exhibition 

so she created a new exhibition
to open on 15 th March 2003

RAM gallery in Oslo takes the form of a deathlike fire location. But an airlike heavenly ceiling of whisplike nylon threads stretches down to a cooled ash-covered floor. In January the artists studio at her homestead in Sweden burnt to the ground! Silent witnesses to many decades of her life you can find here in these grey-brown ashes. BUT she's smiling.

"Things, objects, are for the momentary joy but you cannot be the objects. It is pointless to spend your life energy taking care of dead things. Thoughts like that came with clearsighted vision as I stood looking at the ravaging flames", she says calmly.


The metal form of the garden furniture survived the catastrophe. The alloy wheels of the car flowed like lava across the floor.Paint cans and tubs. A sewing machine and an antique milk seperator. Her husband's chain saw. Mowing machine, berry picking tools. Many of life's daily implements can still be identified. Precious memories and broken dreams mingle inseperably with each other. All the materials Ragnhild had planned to use in this exhibition burnt up together with the 100 year old barn.



extract of the report in Vart Land by Britt Rogstad


Using the ashes of belongings from the burnt out barn...and creating hundreds of cloud-like wispy pastel coloured forms hanging down

She created an exhibition entitled 'Memento Mori' (remember you will die)  

"Look, here are some of my books," she suddenly expresses as she touches the ashen pages, happy to see the printed thoughts she had been surrounded with up until that unhappy January day of the fire.

Only one who has been close to them can rediscover the pages of text in this tip of fired remants.


Let it be so

"And look at that clock, this old fashioned clock with a pendant stood in the front room of my parents home during the 1950's. The candelabra I could possibly have saved, but I simply thought 'let it all go'.

Now when all is burnt up we can see how similar everything is. Isn't it beautiful, like our lives? We borrow days and years in the tension between the material and the spiritual. Our bodies go back to the soil of that we are sure. And what about the spirit?"



Ragnhild Monsen leaves the question unanswered and playfully raises her hand to caress the whisplike threads above us as though gliding silently. She is conscious of the dualism in the present. Maybe the

awareness of death bestows the power to fully live.  In her art she has focused much on the opposites, life and death, spirit and material, feminine and masculine, light and darkness, pain and joy.


"The fire took something from me in order to give something back. I had to lose in order to find," she states.





the artist speaking to the reporter Britt Rogstad

The Fire

The old studio...
and the new studio that arose
from the ashes