profilbild på alumnen daniel standow
Photo: Martin Gustavsson

With a passion for the material and a desire to not be still - the metal workshop is the right place for Daniel


In his early days at HDK-Valand's metal workshops in Steneby, Daniel Strandow devoted himself to concrete and figurative creation. Several years and a master's degree in metal design later, his works are more abstract. “I have found my way into contemporary art”, he says.

The drive has always been there. As a child, Daniel Strandow used to sit and draw in his father's studio. In his twenties, he learned to hammer metal and cast bronze.

However, he first tried to avoid the artistic path. He moved from Söderhamn to Uppsala to study peace and conflict studies. He earned his doctorate, did research and lectured. At the same time he was drawing, made leatherwork and had other artistic projects on the side. "My father is an artist. I know how difficult that life can be, so I wanted to do something that would give me a more stable income," says Daniel.

detaljbild på daniel i sin verkstad
Photo: Martin Gustavsson

At the same time, he recognises that 'some things can't be avoided'. A realisation that in Daniel's case came when he suffered from burn out. He didn't feel good about a sedentary life in front of the computer - and decided to give artistic work a full-time chance.

Today, he lives with his wife and three children in Dals Långed, just a few kilometers from HDK-Valand Campus Steneby, where he graduated a year and a half ago with a master's degree in Applied Arts and Design, metal art. Nowadays he spends his working days in a metal workshop in the neighboring village of Fengersfors, as part of the artist collective Not Quite.
“I quickly realised that I needed to find a workshop to have access to machines and equipment even after the education. Since my family was happy and wanted to stay in Dals Långed, it was a good fit here in Fengersfors, which I was already familiar with," he says.

There are several reasons why Daniel chose metal design as his artistic specialisation. Firstly, a craft-oriented education felt more secure in terms of livelihood. At least compared to investing in fine art. He also had - and still has - a strong passion for the material, and the expression that iron, steel and bronze enable. But perhaps the most important thing is the highly physical work required in a metal workshop. Here he doesn't have to sit still. He can be on the move, stand up most of the day, and have a lifestyle that he believes is being lost. Things he also reflects over within his art.
“Ultimately, it's about who we are as human beings. When we spend so much time scrolling with just our fingertips, we lose our ability to use the rest of our body. I'm interested in what happens when we hand over so much of our creative drive to a kind of artificial twin, which more and more replaces our imagination," he says.

detaljbild på mask i metall
Photo: Martin Gustavsson

Daniel is currently working on a large sculpture commissioned by the municipality of Bengtsfors. He has a lot to do, and the deadline is approaching. The sculpture will be finished in February. He is also trying to keep up with smaller works. Masks, bodies and vessels. Last but not least, he wants to have time to start completely new projects for the exhibitions already booked in the calendar.
"Right now I'm in a phase where I want to try many different things to see what works. I want to try different tracks, work on different scales and have lots of ideas," says Daniel.

In fact, he now feels totally ready for the artistic life that awaits him. He just wants to keep working. But he didn't feel that way when he was at the end of the bachelor's programme.
“I needed a few more years, so I decided to do a master's programme. I'm glad I did that now. Without it, it would not have been as easy to get started and work on my own," he says.

How did you find HDK-Valand Campus Steneby in the first place?
“Someone had posted pictures of the metal workshop online. I thought it looked nice, applied and got into the programme. But before I said yes, I went to Dals Långed and checked it out. And it was then, when I walked around the school's premises, that it felt just right," he says.

In the spring, Daniel may return to HDK-Valand. He has just signed an agreement that allows him to fill in as a substitute teacher on the metal programme if necessary.
"I have taught before. It will be fun to do this too," says Daniel.

By: Camilla Adolfsson