Canned sardines, caught in the fjords of Western Norway, were once a staple food in both Europe and the USA. To appeal to buyers in foreign markets, the Norwegian canning factories came up with an abundance of colorful designs, more or less related to the contents of the tin. In the first half of the 20th century, when the canning industry reached it’s peak, there were dozens of canning factories in the southwestern city of Stavanger. In fact the canning industry was one of the main reasons for the city’s growth in this period. Today, Stavanger’s canning museum is the only memory left of the once booming sardine industry, and crude oil has long since replaced it as the main source of income. Most of the images are borrowed from www.norwegiancollector.com.
Since Norway is a a small country with only four million people, you would not expect the regional differences to be too big. The geography though is such, that for almost a thousand years, from the end of the viking era and until modern times, the different regions did not interact much among each others – so that each part of the country developed distinct cultural and linguistic traits. Oddvar Torsheim is an artist whose burlesque style is distincly Western Norwegian. His art is a homage to the fjord landscape and the people who live there, but also a satirical look at Norway; the religious fanaticism of the west, the oil industry and the greed which has corrupted our innocence over the past decades. And then there is women, beer drinking men and I guess a bit of autobiographical references too, in Torsheim’s humorous, freudian universe.