Surf crashes onto the white sandy beach of Leynar. Heavy rain pours down, while gusts of wind race across grey skies. The weather rollercoaster gains even more speed, the ride leans into an invisible curve, it performs a nose-over, and then it lands on the grass roof of Ole Jakob Nielsen’s workshop. The view from his workbench is amazing. His house is sitting on a hill, overlooking the beach and the bay. That is precisely why he chose to have only small windows in his atelier: „I don’t want to be distracted. With big windows, I would be looking outside all day long.“
Ole Jakob Nielsen is wearing a plaid shirt, a green bowler hat, khaki trousers, Crocs, no socks. Working with wood has always been his passion. As sculptural woodturner, he creates precious wooden objects. Bowls with unbelievable even surfaces and incredibly beautiful patterns. Also lamp shades, very thinly turned, so light can be transmitted through the wood. One has to touch those fragile artworks, gently and carefully, view them from every possible angle. Ole Jakob Nielsen prefers smooth sculptural contours. „Woodturning is one of my main forms of communication“, he says. Ash, rowan, pine, sycamore, laburnum: Ole Jakob Nielsen has many dialog partners, and he understands them without words.
In the beginning, every piece of wood gets roughly turned. After that, it has to season for a minimum of one year. The seasoning is exceptionally important. It ensures that the wood doesn’t distort or crack within the following procedures. For the lamp shades, Ole Jakob Nielsen turns the wood until it is extremely thin, which means between 0.5 and 1mm. This is, when the miracle happens. The light shines through the wood, the fantastic patterns are put on stage, ready for applause, like actors in a theatre. Some patterns resemble land maps, others waves or helixes. Each piece is unique. „The irregularity of the Faroese wood is an artist’s delight“, Ole Jakob Nielsen declares.
Faroese wood? Most people think there are no trees around at all. Which is not true. „About 1840, pastors from Denmark came to Faroe Islands. Their wives planted some trees in their gardens and around their houses, and some acres of planting in a few other areas did follow. Affluent people wanted to use wood instead of peat to heat their homes.“ However, there is no point in pretending. Trees are rare on Faroe Islands. A fact that makes Ole Jakob Nielsen’s art even more sublime.
Together with his wife, the Faroese poet Guðrið Helmsdal, he recently has celebrated golden wedding. The couple met 1963 in Denmark. In 1977, they moved into their home in Leynar. Ole Jakob Nielsen about Faroe Islands: „You simply can’t live at other places.“ Rain crashes against window panes, and the wind has decided to perform another rollercoaster ride. Branches and trunks will crack, and Ole Jakob Nielsen will create new enchanting items. His favorite pieces are not for sale. Every once in a while he takes them out of a cabinet, holding them tight in his hands. There is much to be talked about.