MARIANN HØGEVOLD MIDBØE, THE PHOTOGRAPHER
For such a small, unimposing personality, Mariann’s photographs speak volumes. I recall her as being sweet, softly spoken and mild-mannered. Yet her work is bold and startlingly crisp. She is able to frame the human stature within vast landscapes that are both breathtaking and surreal. She plays with light, colour and space; always calling back to nature. But what is most striking about her photographs is their honesty and simplicity.
Her most beautiful photographs are perhaps her most candid, especially those of her favourite subject, her three-year-old niece. Mariann says ‘She never does what I ask her, but the photos just turn out better because of it’.
I first met Mariann in Melbourne. It was springtime then – the most colourful and lively time in the city’s green spaces. She has since returned to Oslo. She takes some time out to email me from her cabin outside of the city to tell me about photography, family, and the Pacific Trash Vortex.
How does your hometown give you inspiration?
I grew up in Grünerløkka, which is known as the bohemian part of Oslo. Growing up near the heart of Oslo, in a small apartment with five people, there was always something going on around me. Despite this it was always possible to find some peace and quiet. The beauty of Oslo is that even though it’s a capital city, it is surrounded by nature and has so many green spaces within the city limits. It’s the serenity I find in the green spaces that I tend to seek in my photos.
What is it about Oslo that makes you call it ‘home’?
My favourite thing about Oslo is the first weeks of spring when, after hibernating for a few months, people emerge from their homes. The city completely transforms, and goes from dull and grey to colourful, light and full of life. During this time there’s nothing better than to find a nice café and do some people-watching, or take walks around the city.
What drew you to photography?
As a teenager I attended a Waldorf school where creativity was both encouraged and nurtured. I was exposed to different crafts such as painting, bookbinding and calligraphy, which sparked my need to create. Around the same time, my dad passed away, and I needed a way to make sense of life. Photography seemed to fit those requirements, and enabled me to see clearly the people and things that still remained.
Why did you decide to come to Australia to study? And why Melbourne?
I have a chronic case of wanderlust, where the only helpful medicine is to go out and explore. I wanted to learn more about photography and decided I would combine travel and studies. I came across an article about life in Melbourne, and I instantly decided that was where I wanted to go. The culture, the warmer climate and the fact that it was so far away were appealing. Also, for some reason, Melbourne’s extensive tram system was one of the selling points for me.
What is your biggest quirk?
I’m a (mild) hoarder. The Pacific Trash Vortex scares me, so I like repurposing things instead of just throwing them away. Because of that I have a few too many drawers and shelves with what others might consider trash that I use for DIY and crafting.
Mariann is currently studying International Development and hopes to combine this with photography. Her ‘wanderlust’ will inevitably drive her to travel, photograph, discover, and collect bits and pieces for DIY and crafting, the world over. ‘If I can photograph sustainable development and people around the world, then I would be living the dream.’
Words: Annie Ferguson