Interior from Uvdal Stave Church

Harriet Backer
Harriet Backer, "Interior from Uvdal Stave Church", 1909


We are standing in the middle of a crowded and colorful room. We have entered a small stave church, with all its opulence of woodwork, colors and rose paint. We gaze down a narrow ailse. The central pillar stands in our way, yet our gaze is directed towards the altar. The light falling in from the window creates an eye-catcher. 

For six summers, Backer traveled to study in the tiny mountain/valley village of Uvdal, about 3 hours North-West of Oslo, far away from family, friends, and colleagues.  

At this time, the church there was not in use, so Backer borrowed the church room and turned it into a studio.  

Life up in Uvdal was very difficult for the urban artist. The process of painting in the church became quite challenging. The church was cold, crooked and dilapidated. The flickering daylight over all the colorful and rose-painted interiors gives her a whole new challenge. 

The work was extremely time-consuming, and the patience of the local models was really put to the test!  

She wrote in a letter, that in the evenings, she was on her own and felt the consequences of such isolation. She was lonely and missed her conversations with colleagues and civilized people. And, in addition to all this she had to cook all her own meals, which was something she wasn’t used to!