Workbook: Studio 3VERK

Kebony Clear_Janka Bertelsen 3VERK_(c) Moritz Teichmann (17)-low resNorwegian artist Janka Bertelsen created a striking carved surface on the exterior of her studio using environmentally friendly Kebony wood. Her aim is the showcase the versatility of wood as a building surface in urban environments, and used it as a canvas, so to speak, for a prototype of a life-size print of driftwood from Vancouver Island. The effect is stunning. We spoke with the artist.


What inspired you to begin this project?

I’ve been fascinated by wood my whole life: the robustness, the year rings, the surface structure, the smell and the fact that it is a natural, living material in tune with the changes of life. Wood has often been replaced by glass, steel or composites for exterior applications. I wanted to support the renaissance of wood in a new way by creating nature-inspired motifs on wooden façades, connecting nature, wood and art in a harmonious way. The symbiosis of the timber’s natural weathering and the motif creates a totally new visual effect, with an overall goal of “re-naturalizing” the urban environment. The inspiration for this particular tree on the wooden façade came from driftwood that I saw on a recent visit to Vancouver Island in Canada.


Can you tell me a little more about the printing process on wood?

I used a variety of techniques and tools, including paint, brush, knife, sharpener and a sandblaster, to treat the wooden surfaces. The result is a “partial” print, which emphasizes the three-dimensional structure of the wooden surface. Parts of the motif are printed precisely and others are fading or blurry, creating a “positive-negative” effect that is important to the art’s overall visual effect.


What is the upkeep? How long will it last?

Rain is the best way to clean the façade. I’ve conducted the so called 1.000h QUV-B accelerated weathering test for the motif, and based on the results the print should last for at least ten years. But with this project, the durability of the timber is just as important to note as its lifespan. I wanted to avoid tropical hardwood, as well as impregnation substances, so I chose Kebony wood. Kebony is a long-lasting, low-maintenance timber for exterior applications with a Class 1 durability rating and a 30-year outdoor warranty. Only time will tell if the motif begins to fade. So far, after nearly one year, it still looks great despite the heavy influence of sun, rain and wind. If it begins to fade, it is possible to add another layer of protective coating.


What is the timeline for such a project?

The prototype took four months to complete.


Are you working on any other similar projects? If so, can you tell me more about them?

My next project will be the exterior façade of a gate surrounding a private home. I will be using Kebony cladding again, but this time I’ll be treating it with a new technique that includes fire and burning.

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