Art house Messen, Ålvik, Norway
Kunstnarhuset Messen, Ålvik, Norge

Closer to Home

I came to KHMessen to investigate dwelling places as social entities. I was born in Moscow, in the former Soviet Union, and when I was still a child, my family migrated to France, and then Canada. From my earliest memories, well into my adult life, and across several countries, I lived in high-rise apartments. In my artwork, I wanted to capture the ambiguity of feeling at once intimately connected, and anonymous amongst one’s neighbours.

I decided to recreate every house in which I lived using watercolour paintings. I would create a collection culminating in a painting of my latest “residence”: KHMessen. Besides the watercolours, I wanted to make a multimedia collage based on the outlines of these homes—a kind of Frankenhome—which would then be laid onto a large canvas to create a cyanotype, an architectural blueprint. This blueprint would be combined with video projections, soundscapes, watercolour sketches, and relief prints. The theoretical concept for which I sought a visual metaphor was an image schema, a visual, linguistic, embodied, and historical pattern the mind conjures to give us an understanding of the world, and arguably, forms the basis for our identity. My proposal aimed to visualize how each person’s unique history is intimately connected to their experience of lived places, and to other human beings. 

Shortly after I arrived to KHMessen, the first cases of COVID-19 virus began to emerge in Norway. As the situation intensified over the next several weeks, the Norwegian government enacted ever-stricter measures to control the pandemic. The situation brought into stark contrast my privilege of living in a remote village—I was able self-distance by going on hikes in the mountains, or bike rides along the fjord—and the lockdowns my friends and relatives faced across urban centres around the world. Around this time, I was painting my former home in Toronto—a twenty-two storey apartment block where I briefly lived with my mother and grandmother some years ago. As my paintbrush gave shape to the neat rows of apartment cubicles, I began to fret about how my mother and grandmother would need to negotiate interactions with their neighbours: every door handle, every pressed elevator button now represented a possible vector of transmission. I began making frantic phone calls organizing food deliveries, checking up on elderly relatives, and trying to convince them to stay home. 

The state of emergency catalyzed my thoughts about what I found truly important: paradoxically, as ever-stricter social distancing measures came into effect, I felt ever-closer to people across ever-widening physical distances. As we experienced isolation, fear, anxiety, or boredom each in our particular ways, friends, colleagues, and family began finding new ways of connecting on social media. At that moment, having painted thirteen out of a planned thirty former domiciles, and having drafted video projections onto a blank canvas, I placed the project I tentatively titled Closer to Home on hold. Besides, I reasoned that watercolours would make an ideal pastime for the two-week self-quarantine I would have to undergo at my next destination, wherever that may be. As booked flights, festivals, conferences, and teaching engagements were predictably cancelled, or rerouted online, I found myself much more amenable to small changes, finding that I needed to muster my resources to prepare for the big ones.

I am now working to establish connections with other artists who find themselves in similarly precarious situations. Amongst colleagues working in art, film, and anthropology, we launched an Artist Support Network (, which aims to provide support to artists adapting their modes of creative production to changing circumstances. We began hosting online gatherings, where we discuss how to respond to the crisis most effectively as artists, and as community members. Using an online platform, we are also pooling together resource for artists, filmmakers, and educators, who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My work has also taken on a much more personal quality. I started recording video letters, largely unedited and improvised, which I began sending out to relatives and friends. I bring my friends along on hikes, bike rides, or on daily routines. The rawness and immediacy of these tele-messages feels authentic. It is, perhaps, a way that I intimately connect the experience of a lived place to other human beings.

Gregory Gan  (Ålvik 03.04.2020)

April 4, 2020
Closer to Home

Survival tips part 2

survival tips part 2:

– how to listen to rocks

– making bread from clouds

– how to knit from seaweed

– and ask for seaweeds’ permission

– creating anything from dust

– and other waste.

– rewriting old myths

– drawing intentions from sticks

– ways to locate electricity in the earth.

– ways to befriend water

– ways to decolonize 

– ways to sew seeds.

– making fabrics from shadows

– boats from syllables

– music from canned beans

– friends with grass.


Olivia Brelsford-Massey

March 28, 2020
Survival tips part 2

Open Call 2021

Deadline: 30 April 2020

Call for entries

Residency KHMessen in Norway

Applications are now open for a working period in 2021 at KHMessen in Norway!

The Residency Program provides space and time for artists. We welcome visual artists, writers, composer/musicians, performance artists at any stage of their careers who are interested in exploring and expanding their work in a unique and supportive environment. KHMessen consists of artistically crafted and unique living and studio spaces. Time spans are individually based – 1 to 3 months, accommodating 4 to 6 artists at a time.

KHMessen is situated in the small town Ålvik surrounded by mountains and very close to the fjord.
KHMessen AiR program is particularly beneficial to those who find it restorative to live in a community environment surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains and fjords.

The spaces are versatile, providing residents with opportunities to connect and interact with other artists in the house and with the Ålvik community. Also to create and participate with the monthly Open studio and artist talks or house concerts.

Please note: Residency periods are for full calendar month(s) and we ask a fee of 1000 Norwegian Krone per month.

Application period is from 1th March until 30 April 2021

You can find our online application form on our website under: How to apply


Cosy times during the open studio event.

Work at the fjord by Ingrid Pasmans (2019).

Admiring the delicate drawings of Zane Tuča.(2018)

Performance on the top of the mountain by Anastasia Savinova (2019).

Work of Sam van Strien (2017).

Preparing the filmset of Tatiana Blass (2014)


Performance of Linda Molenaar (2014).

March 1, 2020
Open Call 2021

Open studio February

We have the following guest artist doing a working period at KHMessen in February:

Mikiko Fujita is a visual artist and illustrator from Japan based in Germany. She is receiver of the prestigious “Bologna Illustrators Exhibition Award”  in 2014. Her drawing and paintings are made with her favourite materials; pastel, pencil and oil and tell about her nocturnal worlds.

Jaya Stenquist is a writer based in Minneapolis. Her poetry has appeared in Hobart, West Branch, and Mid American among others. Stenquist was a 2018-2019 poetry fellow in the Loft Mentor Series and honorable mention in fiction. She will read from her new work at the Open studio evening.

Jasper Llewellyn is an artist, researcher and facilitator, based in UK and working primarily in Performance Art and time-based media. His work stems from a basic interest in the border between art and everyday life, alongside other recurring themes of speedinvisibility and ‘ways of looking’.

Annette Cook from Australia is an award winning printmaker who has work in major state collections around Australia including the National Gallery in Canberra. Her subject matter explores the natural world, in particular the cross species communication possibilities of the marks and patterns of Australian native animals.

We hope to see you at the 26th !
Many greetings:
KHMessen Team !

February 16, 2020
Open studio February

Open Studio January

We like to invite to the first Open Studio of 2020 at KHMessen.
The artists that have a working period at our residency are:

Natalia Mikhalchuk, illustrator from Russia
Jaya Stenquist, writer from USA
Sandra Blichert, visual artist from Danmark living in Norway

During the evening our writer-in-residence Jaya is giving a short writing workshop for the visitors!

January 28, 2020
Open Studio January

Merry Christmas

I´ve had a fantastic residency at KHMessen this year !
A little bit warmer than expected, Ho Ho Ho !

It is a strange feeling that I now have to leave this lovely place knowing that I have to go back to the dark and arctic North and to my daily job.
This house really fits me, just looking at the colors…

I will really miss Hans with his introduction talk, chatting with Simone and the kids running through the house.
I got so much done here; worked on creative writing of some poems, made a fantastic new painting, did some sculpting, package design, wrote a new piece for the piano and an orchestra. Oh… and I wrote the first 3 chapters of my biography.

All these creative people around me in the house made it all super dynamic.
I got addicted to cold water swimming in the fjord ! I am not the first one so it seems!
I did some gardening and planted Christmas trees and my reindeer helped Hans to cut the grass.
I lost weight too and I didn’t even miss the candy !
Everybody in Ålvik said hello to me as if they knew me already !

I definitely will apply again in a few years. Maybe I choose summer than.

Santa Claus Dec 2019
December 22, 2019
Merry Christmas

The selections for 2020

We like to announce the selected artists for a residency at KHMessen in 2020:

Selections 2020:

Natalia Mikhalchuk – Russia
Jaya Stenquist – USA
Sandra Blichert – Danmark
Annette Cook – Australia
Mikiko Fujita – Japan
Gregory Gan- Canada
David Clark – Canada
Olivia Brelsford – Massey – UK
Marion Blume – Germany
Julie Rafalski – UK
Alexandra Jegerstedt – Norway
Kate Finegan – USA
Luke Conroy / Anne Fehres – 
The Netherlands / Austria
Nadine Sander-Green – Canada
Vardi Bobrow – Israel
Marie Bink van Vollenhoven – The Netherlands
Beth Frey – Canada
Noor van der Brugge – The Netherlands
Sky Kim – USA
Kerstin Mörsch – Germany
Bettina Henkel  – Germany
Vanessa Larsen – Norway
Doris Martens – Germany
Sky Kim – USA
Kerstin Mörsch – Germany
Hellen Abma – The Netherlands
Christopher Squier – USA
Anna Pangalou – Greece
Marloes Staal / Timo Hofacker – The Netherlands
Anna Pangalou – Greece
Ben Giles – UK
Johanne Teigen – Norway
Romane Armand – Belgia
Scardoni Eléonore – Belgia
Narumi Hori / Yuhi Kazama – Japan
Moa Johansson – Sweden
Dafna Staretz – Israel
Ingrid Pasmans -The Netherlands
Christoven Tan – Singapore
Beatrice Alvestad Lopez – Norway
Judith Vanistendael – Belgia
Maria Hanl – Austria
Agnieszka Foltyn / Per Stian Monsås
  – Poland / Norway


November 18, 2019
The selections for 2020

Open Studio November

This will be our last Open studio for this year. Please be welcome to visit the artists:

Sandra Kruisbrink / Drawing / the Netherlands
Heike Endemann / Sculptures / Germany
Silke Panknin / Photography and installations / Germany
Sidsel Bonde / Danmark / visual artist

November 18, 2019
Open Studio November

Open Studio Oktober


The open studios of Oktober was very colorful, musical and even humoristic.

The participants were:
Carmi Weingrod / visual artist / USA
Ville Tanttu / film director and visual artist / Finland
Anastasios Strikos / Musician composer / Greece
Silke Panknin / Photography and installations / Germany
Paul Burn / sculptor and painter / USA/Germany
Sidsel Bonde / visual artist / Danmark
Anastasia Savinova / visual artist / Russia/Sweden

Some pictures of the evening:

Looking at the works of Anastasia Savinova.

Works of Anastasia Savinova

Works of Anastasia Savinova

Printworks of Carmi Weingrod.

Carmi Weingrod at her studio

Work of Carmi Weingrod

At the studio of Carmi Weingrod

Works of Paul Burn at his studio.

Selfie girl, work of Paul Burn

Work of Paul Burn at his studio

Work of paper and stone, Sidsel Bonde.

At the studio of Sidsel Bonde.

Work of Sidsel Bonde.

At the studio of Silke Panknin.

At the studio of Silke Panknin.

At the studio of Silke Panknin.

Stone collection of Silke Panknin.

At the studio of Anastasios and Ville. Anastasios is giving a mini concert.

Water color works of Anastasios Strikos

Ville Tanttu / film director and visual artist / Finland

At the studio of Ville Tanttu and Anastasios Strikos

At the studio of Ville Tanttu and Anastasios Strikos

October 18, 2019
Open Studio Oktober


OPEN CALL a work period at art residency KHMessen in Norway. Deadline 30th September.

Kunstnarhuset Messen (KH MESSEN) is a non-profit organization supporting artists from all over the world, founded 10 years ago.

KH Messen is an artist residency with living space and studios for 5 artists and an artist couple (kids are also welcome too) at the same time. Every year 40 artists from all disciplines, come to visit Ålvik and KH Messen to engage with other artists and find concentration and inspiration to work.

In the house there is a graphic printmaking studio. Artist can apply for a minimum of one month up til a three months stay.

KH Messen is supported by Hordaland Fylkeskommune, Kvam herad, Norsk Kulturråd, Sparebanken Vest, Sparebankstiftinga Hardanger and Hardangerrådet.

KH MESSEN is situated in the village of Ålvik in the fjord landscape of Hardanger in Norway.

The town of Ålvik, initially farmland, evolved rapidly from the beginning of the 20th century when a hydropower plant was built to provide power for a factory producing ferro-alloys for the international metal industry. The town was built up around the factory for the workers to live in. All houses and infrastructure built from the drawings of one architect; Nicolai Beer. One of these houses were the large administrative building called Messen. Today owned and run as an artist residency by the artist organization Kunstnarhuset Messen.

Ålvik and Messen is found in the Hardangerfjord. To the north, large lakes on the mountain plateau create waterfalls and rivers running down the steep mountains from 1000 meters above sea level. To the south, the solid boulders continue downwards deep in the fjord to 900 meters below sea level.

It is rare to see the connection between the resources of nature creating the industry that creates a society so clearly as in Ålvik.

Bergen, one of the largest cities in Norway, is situated two hours to the west of Ålvik.

Bergen has several museums, art galleries, art schools and artist residencies. KH Messen is connected to organizations like Gallery KRAFT, Hordaland Kunstsenter (Art Centre) and AiR USF Verftet.

Use our online application form to apply:


September 2, 2019