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Background of Mike Bjarkoy
I studied art briefly at Eastbourne College of Art and Design, completing only the foundation year in 1976/7. My single parent mother was earning a mere 5 pence too much to gain a grant and it became increasingly clear that continuing a full time art course and seeing my mother struggling to hold down 4 jobs in order to make ends meet was financially or morally not right. A conscious decision was made to leave Eastbourne Art College and earn money to help his mother and hopefully maintain the passion for art by attending night school under his secondary school teacher Oscar Thompsett who ran evening classes at Brighton Polytechnic.
I had not done well at secondary school so began night classes in English language, German, Geography maths and Art History. The latter being inspirational source of information and reflection to my approach to art in the decades to come. The history of art and the artists studied gave a respect for those who had gone before. The incredible talent for the Leonardo as a student of art across all disciplines which included engineering and medicine reflected the genus of the man and the limitations of the artist of today who believe they are constrained by their style. To balance this somewhat I look to artists who have their own style and didn't really deviate such as the impressionist artists. I loved their whole bohemian attitude toward life, their freedom of artistic expression and the concept of en plein air painting in the streets and bars of Paris, or the French countryside appeals to my sense of the good life.
In 1979 when his focus was drawn away from art and into the exciting would of the RNLI where he served as crew on Brighton Lifeboat for the next 23 years. A few years later in 1986 the ambulance service beckoned and qualified as a paramedic (current) which became another distraction on his time. In the period 1979 through to 2003 less than a handful of art were produced. However what was created became 'old favourites' such as the saxophone player and the pot of flowers both studies in oil pastel.
It wasn't until the move to Cornwall in 2003 that art came back into my life. Partly a conscious move to explore creative abilities and partly pushed on by close family and friends to produce works that others believed he was capable of completing.
In 2003 my sister Lorraine visited our house in Cornwall and we took a wander around St Ives, Mousehole and other coastal villages window shopping and peering at art for sale. We both commentated of the variety of standard of work being produced. Some were truly inspirational and others were 'Tut" in the words of Lorraine - I was less polite. Being gently persuaded by his sister that he could do better than most of the souvenir paintings; and a genuine desire to explore my potential, I decided to 'give it a go'.
Thus began a year of experimentation. Two things played on his mind. Firstly the limitations of Oils paints and the utter dislike of water-colour painting. Mike found acrylic painting to be an ideal medium as it gave him the flexibility, depth he wanted which reflected what he liked about oil paints without the smell, and time frame oils took to dry before continuing to work on the piece. The second ponderance was one of style, this was more difficult and took him a long time to find.