Berlin art stories: Louise Gibson

Sleek-Art asked some of our favourite Berlin-based artists to tell us what they think about the city they inhabit, and how they experience the creative landscape in a location that has formed the background for so much European history. All of the artists featured have works that are available to purchase on Sleek-Art. First up: Louise Gibson

Why did you choose to make art in Berlin?

Up until a year ago I had only made art work within the UK, with the exception of 4 months that I spent in Berlin on a foreign exchange from college. Fast forward to the end of 2013, I was craving change, I felt suffocated by familiarity and I wanted to learn from a new city and to spend some time overdosing on art if it was possible. I wanted to take on fresh challenges, meet a spectrum of new people and shake up my work. I sought to propel it forward in an environment where imagination and cultural diversity is both nurtured and celebrated. Berlin was an obvious choice and I love Germany anyway, so instead of fighting the cliché I thought I would dive in at the deep end.

What does Berlin mean to you as a creative community?

Berlin is a chaotic mix of everyone and everything. For many cities this can be their demise; for Berlin this is its magic. Berlin is a passionate city that embraces the future and really values the importance of the arts. If you travel around the heart of the city, the vastness of creative expression is unavoidable and if you venture towards the outskirts, you can learn a great deal more about Berlin's structure, history and inhabitants. For me personally, I feel no judgment about how I choose to conduct my life while living here and I feel lucky that I can learn about so many cultures in one city.

What is your favourite art space in Berlin?

Berlin has some fabulous galleries and art spaces, but you will never know them all, because it is forever changing. At the moment, one of my favourite Art spaces to check out is LEHRTER SIEBZEHN , a fantastic project space on the outskirts of Mitte. I had the great pleasure of holding my first solo show in Berlin there . The diversity of the projects they have taken on in the last year has been fantastic and the space itself is very cool, transforming itself with every event. It also has a great panoramic view over the construction sites that dominate this area of regeneration in Berlin right now.

How is Berlin developing, in your opinion, into an international hub for art?

From my limited personal experience, I can only comment on this as a newbie in town and on reflecting on my past memories of the city. Berlin unquestionably has a fascinating history, it is very resilient, but it also adapts well to change, regenerating itself time and time again, qualities which are essential for international creativity. In certain areas, Berlin is a busy nest for artistic people and its own artist CV has never been so full. If the city continues to accommodate this then this growth will continue to expand. Whether this will benefit the art world as a whole, only time will tell. The responsibility for its development lies not only with the welcome it offers to visitors and global exhibitions, but on local artists living and working in Berlin.

Do you think you can sometimes feel the reminiscence of Berlin's past before the fall? 

I find this question exceptionally difficult to answer as I am so new in town. Do I still feel divisions in the city, yes: visually, on the streets, and culturally in Berlin’s history, which is, in lots of ways, still very much evident in daily life. It’s often the case, I think, that cities which have been at the heart of centuries of political and social turmoil have the capacity, and willingness to embrace art and expressionism in many different forms. There’s an openness about Berlin, which attracts young people and encourages them to contribute to Berlin life.

What would you like to change / stay the same in Berlin for you as an artist?

In the last five years, Its impossible to ignore the huge rise in accommodation costs throughout the whole city, not just in popular neighbourhoods. Of course this is a fact of modern life, but I think in Berlin, better regulation of this and action to control it, will protect the city’s unique appeal, population and authenticity.

In terms of developing my own work, I feel I could not be better matched to a city at this time. I love construction and I am surrounded by it in Berlin. The scale of it is mesmerising! I love to use recycled fabrics in my work and in some neighbourhoods they can be found on every street corner. I have a studio right now on a recycling Hof in Lichtenberg, directly across from the infamous DONG XUAN centre. Here I am able to incorporate materials from the structures of Berlin's past into work with a creative future. Doing this alongside a authentic East Berlin family business is also very special.

Find out more about Louise Gibson, and to view the works available on Sleek-Art

Read what other Berlin artists had to say about Berlin, 25 years after the Wall: Tomasz KobialkaYorgos Stamkopoulos and Nam Chau

Discover more artists