I promised a few days ago that I would write and tell you a little bit about how the book Rønnaug Petterssen – The Artist and Her Dolls came to be written. But I must first say, what I tell you will not be the same content you find in the book, it is not a substitute in other words, because that would not be much fun for me and nor for you. The entries may be interspersed with other announcements; about how the marketing is going, about reviews and other items of interest. Finally, only parts of some entries may be published on the FaceBook pages, due to their format. But the complete entry will be published on this website/blog. I suggest you book mark it. www.ronnaugpetterssen.com
This is the story:
I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be writing a book, nor a blog or anything in that vein. I wrote letters and thought that was rather fun. My mother encouraged me, because she kept up a large correspondence with friends far and near. My father did as well, so it was perhaps something one did more in past times, in times without social media and email and such. One was encouraged to use language well, encouraged to express oneself precisely and all that. But I have always been a story teller, sometimes to the exasperation of the people around me. After I opened my practice as a Traditional Chinese Herbalist, I found that story telling was a useful way of making my client listens to the information I needed to give them. They would listen to and accept the information without thinking about it which did not necessarily happen without the story. This is how I became a conscious teller of stories.
When my mother died in 1979, she left behind boxes upon boxes of unsorted letters and photos, newspaper clippings, articles, and assorted things committed to paper. As I sorted out the apartment and the basement store rooms, these papers kept spilling out of boxes and all but brought me to tears of desperation because of the sheer mass of them. I was however hunting for one piece of paper vital to the sale of the apartment and had to make sure the elusive paper hadn’t become trapped in one of the envelopes. I soon realized that these letters represented the story of my mother’s life and work. Many letters were from friends long gone, some also from friends and teachers from the art academy days in Berlin in 1929/30. Because there were so many, quite a few contained rather mundane information. I regretfully discarded some I thought were unimportant. However I found stacks of letters about how the workshop was founded, business letters describing it all in detail. There were carefully saved articles and newspaper clippings, receipts, lots and lots of photographs, etc. in other words a mass of papers that when sorted out, carefully documented the personal and business life of the artist and her Atelier.
So I packed these boxes up and shipped them to my home in the US, to join the materials I had already sent when the workshop closed in 1975. These boxes with the papers sat there pretty much unopened till the summer of 2005. I knew I should do something with them, but I had young children and much to do.