Sunhild Wollwage is from Stuttgart. She learned the profession of laboratory assistant and worked in Stuttgart, Cologne and Zurich. In addition to her professional work she attended arts and crafts courses. After her children were born she gave up her professional activity. She has lived in Liechtenstein for 53 years and is now 83 years old. She has been active as an artist for many years.
Where and how did you grow up?
I grew up in Stuttgart. Through my mother I had a relationship with northern Germany near Cuxhaven, which I’ve visited time and again. When our rented flat was totally destroyed in February 1945, we lost everything. In the post-war period my father tried to keep his family afloat by giving private lessons for children and English for adults. Unfortunately the lessons were often paid for in kind, so there was a constant lack of money. I attended an arts grammar school where it became clear to me that my inclination was towards art.
Could you describe your professional background?
Studying art was not possible at that time for financial reasons. So I decided to do an apprenticeship as a laboratory assistant and worked in this profession for a few years in different laboratories.
Were there certain events or stages that were formative for your career?
When we came to Liechtenstein in 1967, there was neither an art society nor an association of artists. I therefore tried to make contact with artists in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Were there certain people who were formative for your career?
My father-in-law supported me from the beginning. He was a painter and graphic designer himself and took my inclinations towards art very seriously.
Has your environment supported you in your career?
In the beginning there was my father-in-law and later various artists in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. I was financially secure through my husband’s earnings.
What are your current activities?
My artistic work today has a close relationship to nature. I work mainly with natural materials.
Does what you are currently doing fulfil you?
Yes it fulfils me, but it is often a long way to a satisfactory result.
What or who gives you strength and energy in everyday life?
I go for a walk in the forest every day. Even if it’s raining. What I see and find there gives me strength and security and strengthens me to continue to search for something new in the same.
There are ‘magic moments’ when everything seems to fit. Moments that fulfil, inspire and give strength. Moments that confirm that the effort is worthwhile and that what you do is meaningful and valuable. Have you already experienced such moments in relation to your own activities?
Yes that happens all the time.
Do you actively do something for it, so that such ‘magic’ moments can happen?
Yes, long solitary walks and hikes.
Are there moments when you doubt what you are doing?
Yes there are such moments! I know from experience that these moments are not permanent. They make me think and so I always find a new way to continue.
Is the recognition of other people or the public important to you?
Important? Probably not, but recognition always gives me additional motivation to keep going.
How well can you live from what you do professionally?
The current situation (I’m retired) allows me to work freely and without constraint. I could not live on the proceeds from my art.
What are you most grateful for in life?
I hope that I will continue to stay healthy and that I will keep meeting people where there is a spark between us. I am also grateful to live in a place where one can work freely and without adverse circumstances.
Laura Hilti, May 2021
Photo oval shapes: Ernst Malin
All other photos: Sunhild & Peter Wollwage
This interview is part of the project ‘Magic Moments’ by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel, in which people are interviewed about their careers, activities and their magical as well as difficult moments.
Curated by Stefani Andersen and Laura Hilti, Kunstverein Schichtwechsel.
Supported by Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein and Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger.
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