After spending half an hour talking to Hanne Elisabeth Haugen about her experiences in working with art, it is easy to forget that she is not that old at all. For a woman of 20, she has already, impressively enough, experienced how it is to work closely with art and artists for many hours a day – a reality many others dream of. “It can be boring on long days when we have few customers,” she admits with a shy smile, and promptly assured me by saying “but I loved my job”. Today Hanne is a Psychology student in London and far off from the gallery she used to work in, which was in a small town in Norway. She explained to me that art was something she learned to appreciate after “working closely with it since I was 16”. She laughs when I ask her what kinds of galleries she used to visit over in Norway – “there is only one.” Coming from a small town, Hanne used to work in the only gallery, while now, living in the midst of the vibrant gallery labyrinth of London, it is easy to forget that a museum on every street corner is not common everywhere else. Having been a Londoner for a year now she admits that she still have so many plans for places to see and galleries to visit, but admits that “it is hard to get around to it, being a devoted student and all”. One top of her wish list is the famous London gallery with the fabric pipe. “I really want to go and see Tate Modern. I don’t know why, but back home that is one of the galleries we always here about,” she said and told me that many Norwegian students who move to London are familiar with the modern Tate.
After working with various styles of art such as paintings, graffiti, design and sculptures for over six years, Hanne does not have a specific favorite genre and when asking her what here favorite type of art is, she claims “art can be anything”! According to Hanne, being surrounded by art on a daily basis does something to you. It is like a soothing balm for the soul and it changes you as a human. When trying to explain why that is, she gets a wrinkle in her forehead and I hold my breath while I let her think. “I feel like I can see things that other people can’t see. After working with art for that long it opens my eyes to everyday objects that other people don’t notice”. A very analytical remark, but it makes sense. It must be wonderful to see art, not only on walls, but also in a bustling day-to-day life. Maybe that is why she seems so calm? Hanne smiles when I ask her if she feels lucky to have such a personal relationship with art. “You learn from working with art and people for many years. You see how art is everything and more to some people, and it does something to you.”
The life of a student is a busy one and Hanne looks at me longingly when I ask her if she wishes that she had more time to enjoy art. “I would have loved to work in a gallery in London. It would have been such an inspiration!” I have to admit; spending time interviewing this 20-year-old art fanatic inspired me.