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April - Herdis Maria Siegert.

Herdis Maria Siegert, born in 1955, is one of Norway’s best-known photographers, highly appreciated for her brilliant combination of tradition and creativity. Her mastery of expression in black and white is widely recognised. Since her first solo-exhibition in The Photography Gallery, Oslo (1983), Herdis Maria Siegert has published her work in exhibitions, books and magazines. In 2003, she was granted the highest recognition within the field of photography in Norway - The Photographers’ Prize 2003.

“There are those who call my images objects of meditation. I am thankful for that and feel that I have succeeded in conveying something important,” says photographer Herdis Maria Siegert.
 
Herdis, who chose to keep her Austrian citizenship, despite the fact that she was born and raised in Norway, lives close to the “End of the World” on the small island of Tjöme, not far from Sandöfjord in Southern Norway. She has worked as a photographer for her entire professional life. She is now an experienced portrait photographer, but also a devoted nature photographer, with the ocean and sky as constantly recurring themes. As a nature photographer she has traveled in Scandinavia, Portugal, and Greece and has shot photos for books, magazines, exhibitions, and public installations.
She has also documented sensitive subjects such as birth, illness, and death, both in private homes and in institutions. On her wall at home she has a peaceful image of her father lying in bed. Many believe that he is sleeping. In fact, the photo shows him dead.


Herdis studied the photography program at Sogn Vocational College in Oslo. Then she has worked as a press photographer for ten years. In the beginning of the 1980s, she quit her steady job to become a freelance artist fulltime. In addition to her own personal images, she illustrates such things as CD and book covers. She has also taken the cover shots for the Norwegian artist Kari Bremne’s CD “Norwegian Mood” and Gro Nylander’s book “First Time Mom”. 

Herdis has shown her images in a large number of solo exhibitions in Norway, including Fotogalleriet in Oslo. She has also participated in joint exhibitions in Scandinavia, the USA, Japan, Iceland, Germany, and India. In 2001 she was awarded first prize in “Visuelt 2001” for the best book cover in Norway, and last year she won the Norwegian Photography Prize, a great honor.

Herdis loves to photograph all living things, people and nature and plants. In February she made her seventeenth trip to the Lofoten Islands to both photograph and teach. “This island group, north of the polar circle, has a landscape that I never tire of. In May, I will also hold a workshop there, centered on the theme The Art of Seeing: Humans and the Landscape,” says Herdis.

 


Several years ago she went to Venice. For six days she shot from dawn to dusk. Her images of Venice are far from the standard postcard shots. They do contain gondolas, gondoliers, and water, but they are simple images, clean, built with few elements, such as the strict lines of the gondola against the still surface of the water, all composed inside the square frame. The Venice images, together with the images from the Lofoten Islands, make up a series she calls By the Sea, shown in 1997 at the Norwegian Museum for Photography, Preus Fotomuseum, in Horten, Norway.


She is currently choosing images for her latest project Hommage, a tribute to life and nature that will consist of everything from large landscape images to small close-ups of plants, all in black and white. Hommage will be both a book and an exhibition.
 
On Tjömö island there is rich fauna and steep cliffs that drop straight down into the North Sea. Herdis’s house is right beside the sea and is both home and workplace. She enjoys living here. She intends to stay. Each day she goes down to the water’s edge to greet the sea and to think over her experiences. She is happy to have found her calling in life. “All humans are born with a gift and it is each person’s duty to find and develop that gift. Talent is found in the small, budding gifts. The rest is just work, work, and more work. Nothing makes me happier,” she says.

Kerstin Fiedler