We met up with Madde Rumberg at her home in the Swedish province of Blekinge. Madde is a full-time artist, and a process technician at Södra’s pulp mill in Mörrum – which is also full-time. When we meet, she is sitting in her studio, which was previously the house’s garage, surrounded by sculptures and other works of art that she has created. The sun shines in through the studio’s small window, and Madde is looking at one of her creations as she tells us how it all began.

“I already loved to paint when I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I truly realised how it meant more to me than anything else. That was when I started painting on canvas with oil paints. That was when I knew that this would always be a part of me. That it was something I had to do. Later on, I also started sculpting and experimenting with various materials to help me create,” she explains.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PATH

After secondary school, she filled out applications for various art colleges – including Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Sweden – but, for some reason, never submitted them.

“I was insecure when I was 19 and I didn’t think I was good enough. Looking back, I wonder what direction my life would have taken if I’d sent those applications. But the path I chose was right for me, and I wouldn’t change my life today for anything. I am a qualified art teacher, and I’ve completed several programmes in sculpture, illustration, graphics and painting. I’m also a member of KRO, the Swedish Artists' National Organization, which is dedicated to improving its members’ financial and social conditions. I’m also a member of Svenska tecknare, the Association of Swedish Illustrators and Graphic Designers.”

Madde has exhibited her work in over 30 shows, including juried shows. The most common reaction she hears from viewers is that her works make them happy, which makes her happy as well.

“My paintings are both abstract and concrete. I wouldn’t say my paintings and sculptures have a signature look. They come from a feeling and my mood on the day I make them. I’m inspired by folklore and handicrafts from all over the world. Tall tales, stories, myths, legends, fairy tales and a good yarn can also serve as catalysts for my inspiration and ideas. So can Mother Earth, with her diversity of nature and all of its creatures. I’m also inspired by advertising images from the 1950s and 60s. My sculptures are made from paper mâché, and usually turn into various characters. I have an idea when I start, but then the sculptures usually take over and dictate their own terms.”

EXPRESSION AND TASTE

It’s hard for Madde to describe the source of her creativity. She draws a comparison with the feelings that drive a competitive athlete. Love, passion and something you can’t live without. A lifestyle. She is driven by the same mechanisms.

“It’s like your lifeblood. This is what I do, and I almost always have a pen in my hand. I express myself through art and that’s how I relate to life, in ways both large and small. It makes me happy that I can be so active, and that there are actually people out there who want to buy my paintings.”

Madde speaks about her job as a process technician at the mill in Mörrum. She is a shift worker in the packaging department, and spends her work days monitoring the process both on the floor and in the control room.

“It’s hard to earn a living as an artist, since art is a matter of taste and opinion. Someone actually has to like what I create and want to have it in their home. I’m happy at Södra, and have found a good balance between this job and my work as an artist. But of course I also wish there were more hours in a day so that I could sit in my garage with my paints and just create,” she concludes.

Packaging process technician

The process technician is responsible for monitoring the packaging lines so that production remains steady and disruptions are corrected if required.

The packaging process technician is responsible for the products that reach Södra’s customers looking good, with first-class stamping.

The process technician is also responsible for the correct grades being stamped on the bales.