In conversation with Hamburg-based artist Murte Julia Liebenberg. Murte studied at the University of Applied Sciences / HAW, gaining a diploma in graphic design/illustration.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest in the arts?
I was born as an artist into a family with many artistically gifted members. From an early age, I had access to paper, pencils, brushes, paints, scissors and the like. I got a variety of artistic suggestions, I was free to try them out, met artists in my parents’ house and was taken to exhibitions and museums. I never seriously thought of doing any other profession.
Can you talk about the influences upon your work?
At first I was influenced by my artistic parental home, where I found books with the illustrations of Ilon Wikland, Tove Jansson and Maurice Sendak, to name but a few. Learning to write as a physical process was fantastic for me. I saw the sketchbooks of my grandparents and my aunts. At about the age of 13, I discovered Chinese and Japanese prints, ink drawings and calligraphy. My first sketchbooks date from that period. I studied Chinese and Russian to learn the scripts.
Pattern and form are a key observation in your work. What themes are you exploring through this?
I am concerned with equality and diversity. I’m exploring repetitive actions and patterns in handwriting, knitting, hand-painted tiles and patterns, even in Family Constellations. Family issues, healing and growth form the background to my work.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, and is there a particular pattern?
I’ve always had a sketchbook with me since I was a kid. They are my fields of experimentation for my written and drawn artistic ideas. Over time, I developed the form of my albums. In empty photo albums as well as in bound catalogues I work with many kinds of pens, chalk and inks. I also use adhesive foil and pierce the paper, using the transparent separation pages as well. When one album is finished, I continue with the next one. I always have a supply of empty albums at hand so that my work can stay in the flow.
What is the process of developing a personal body of work?
My work has evolved from exploring materials and techniques. In a way, my work arises by itself as I work intuitively with what is important to me. Often it was only in retrospect that I came to realize how much personal matter is contained in my pictures. The further my artistic activity developed, the more I recognized my concerns in it. The more I understood myself, the more my work progressed.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic?
Yes, sometimes it means relaxation to create and sometimes it is therapeutic to me. Creating my work is a vital process that contains what my life contains, including my states of emotion, my mood and my needs.