Behind the Mask
Tell me about yourself.
I’m from Trondheim, Norway. I spent my 20s as a waiter and bartender in Oslo, but I didn’t feel much at home in the life I was living, so I moved to London to mix it up. It worked. I’ve been making masks for 10 years now. I am self-taught—it has all developed organically. Now, I have a workshop, connected to my husband’s photo studio, Dalston Pier.
What inspired you to start making masks?
I used to go clubbing a lot and masks came up as part of the get-up. But I don’t know why masks have become my thing. I have always collected materials I find around—textiles, beads, small bits of ribbon, little ornaments and things—and I needed somewhere to put these materials to use. I don’t draw, design or plan. I sculpt and see where the materials take me. But it’s funny, I have never been particularly interested in masks as a category.
Do you ever find yourself personifying your masks? Do they have personalities?
To me they do—I feel that personality through the process of making them. But it’s more about what other people find in them. Once I finish a mask and photograph it, I rarely put it on again. It lives its own life. An important part is taking a self-portrait of the mask and getting it out online. There, it can have a life of it’s own.
What is the first mask you remember making?
I remember making a plaster mask when I was 17 as part of a school project, but a few years ago my mum gave me a mask of paper and tulle I made when I was four.
What three words would you use to describe your process?
Materials and time.
Where did the name Damselfrau come from? What does it means?
It used to be my Skype name before the masks emerged. I was listening to a lot of German industrial music in my late 20s, so I think the German twang came through that. It lent itself to the mask work naturally. It means unmarried/married woman. To me, it has come to mean something like married to oneself.
Do you ever wear masks? Are they a part of your wardrobe in any way?
Not really. They are more a part of my home, on walls and photos. But sometimes I’ll make a fun one for Halloween.