Peter Nilsson, What once was

In Siberia in the year 1909, a hunter who went looking for his dog found a completely preserved woolly mammoth in the permafrost. I read this story when I was nine years old, and it has fascinated me ever since.
— Peter Nilsson

Peter Nilsson began his working life as an engraver in the glass industry in Sweden. Besides working as a designer, engraving and figurative expression has always been his language of choice. What once was shows Peter’s technique of enclosing engravings in laminated glass sculptures, creating pictures that have neither a front or a back side. The viewer is given a chance to see the pieces from different angles and to read new stories when they look at them, into them and through them.

Peter grew up in rural Sweden in the neighbourhood of the Orrefors Glassworks and village. Surrounded by workshops where he was allowed to play as a child, glass seemed the most natural material to use and Peter decided at the age of seven he would become a glass engraver.

What once was is inspired by Peter’s roots in the far north, and a story that fascinated him as a child. 

In Siberia in the year 1909, a hunter who went looking for his dog found a completely preserved woolly mammoth in the permafrost. I read this story when I was nine years old, and it has fascinated me ever since. In 1990 I was lucky to see this remarkable animal with my own eyes in an exhibition. 

The mammoth is an iconic representative of the mega fauna. With Africa (where we first appeared) as an exception, the mega fauna has disappeared on every continent that the humans have moved to. Now we are occupied by scoring easy political points at the expense of the environment. The result might be our own extinction. Will the world miss us? 

After graduation from the senior high school program at the National Glass School in Orrefors, Peter was hired as a glass engraver at Pukebergs glassworks, where he stayed for seven years assisting a range of designers. After university, Peter spent nine years at the Swedish National Glass School as a teacher in coldworking techniques, sketching techniques and art history.
Peter relocated to Australia with his partner in 2010, where he continues to work as a freelance artist.