Jeanette Schäring – ‘Whose water are you?’ at Tauranga Art Gallery


Jeanette Schäring grew up on the west coast of Sweden, surrounded by lakes, rivers, the deep forest and a biodiversity of species. From Borås, a town well known as the hub of fashion and textile in Sweden, she had a needle and thread in her hand from an early age and, surrounded by fibre and textile, she had her first industrial sewing machine when she was ten. Materiality and creativity have always been a part of life for Jeanette.

Jeanette travelled extensively, but returned to Sweden to study health and human biology with the intention of becoming an Osteopath but, instead, turned to a traditional art, sculpture and painting education and has a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and MFA (Masters of Fine Art) from Gothenburg University. During her studies she made field studies and art research projects into remote indigenous villages. Jeanette currently lives with her family in Mount Maunganui. She will, however, return to Sweden this winter for two large solo exhibitions, both of which include community and social involvement.

Kisumu, Kenya. Hanging with the children during the project ‘Beyond the basket’. Photo copyright Jeanette Schäring

Where do you find inspiration for your artworks?

It’s about logic and self-mastery, excitement over the processes of learning the big picture, observation of the natural world, understanding universal truth, building resilient communities, and responsibility for the world. Inspiration also comes from learning and sharing knowledge, meeting people, and from animals and cultures.

How would you describe your style and method?

It’s a kind of unification between art and science. The most common way to interpret the difference between art and science style, is based on the idea that style and contents are separate entities, but that’s not the case.

Your current installation is ‘Whose Water are you?’ – tell us a bit about this. Why this project?

It was an opportunity to communicate, using water and colour, to unite people in nature and our sensitive ecosystem, to empower people to tell their stories about water and, embrace the discussions about ethics and traditional human behaviours. With the increased pressure on our natural environment, water has become a highly-charged social, cultural and political resource. The exhibition changes through time and space, depending on many factors, such as light, human interaction, water and sound. It is a place-specific work and therefore it will always be different.

Whose water are you? Blå Stället 2016 Gothenburg Sweden. Photo copyright Jeanette Schäring

Why do you do what you do?

Because I can only be me and I am interested in a softer society. We are in a climate change pushing towards the sixth mass extinction, 50 percent of all species on our globe have disappeared, drought and scarcity of clean water is forcing mass migration and displacement, food and water is contaminated with chemicals, medical waste, the oceans are filled with plastic, fashion and textiles are produced with toxic chemicals; all is washed out in our water ways, later ending up in our drinking water which interferes with our bodies and bacterial system.

What is your dream project?

I love to dream and follow the flow. Perhaps work in Antarctica with scientists, looking at ice and glaciers, tiny particles and microbes. I love snow and ice; they are my favourite materials. Another dream has been to live with the Shamans in Northern Siberia, Russia. But perhaps first I will start a Lab where artists, scientists, communities and friends from my international network can come and experiment and work together in a place where the heart, the mind and new thoughts can meet to create ecological and social transformation as well as new innovations.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given (relating to your art)?

Be true to yourself. It’s about choosing the path that has a heart. Trust your body; it knows you, and it also understands materiality.

Colour, Water and Light. Included in the exhibition at Skövde Art Museum 2015/16

Give us some highlights that you have had with your work.

Unity through community – when people came to give water and their stories for the water installations ‘Whose water are you?’ at Tauranga Art Gallery.

Enlightened when a Professor in Neurochemistry and Analytical Chemistry at Uppsala University invited me to work in his science lab and we started to work between art and science; continuing and later discoveringinnovations.

Enlightenment when invited by the indigenous people of Santhal Santinikitan, India, to spend time with them around the fire, outside their little clay house, listening to the sounds of the Santhal and waiting for the rice to cook.

 Surprised to be invited as a VIP Designer for the fashion show at the Natural Dye Conference in Taiwan 2014.

 Where can readers view your art or find out more?

Whose water are you? is on at the Tauranga Art Gallery until 15 July or you can view my book  Matter in Motion and the Mysticism of Nature’s Colour.