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Cecilia Rodhe's life and works

A concern for those in need is the moving force behind Cecilia Rodhe's life and works

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Humanism is the abiding theme in NewYork-based sculptor Cecilia Rodhe's works
Weekend Review

Cecilia Rodhe realised that her calling was to pursue art that carries humanistic messages and that aspect is also reflected in her contribution to charities that work for needy children all over the world.

Growing up in a fishing village in Sweden she was drawn to nature and developed an attachment to it.

"I'm attracted to nature. It is where we come from and where we go back. I was just 7 when I started to meditate on the beauty of nature," Rodhe said.

This admiration of nature's beauty has complemented her talent for sculpture and made her "see the responsible side of life".

Recalling her first attempt at making a sculpture, she said: "I made a 15-centimetre statue of a woman. I couldn't believe I did it myself. I couldn't sleep. I woke up every hour to look at it and touch it. The joy of creation is marvellous."

Her work has been showcased at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and art galleries at various places, including Paris and Stockholm.

The artist has also undertaken private and public commissions, the most recent being In Oneness, a massive bronze on display in Atlantic City in New Jersey.

Miss Sweden of 1978, Rodhe has had a successful career in modelling. "I began my career as a model but despite the glamour and recognition, I always felt I was destined for a bigger role," she said.

The turning point in her life came when she decided to help people in need, especially children.

"It was only then that I felt I had found my purpose in life," the New York-based sculptor said. "Now I'm a member of the board of directors of Innocence in Danger, a charity that works to prevent child abuse. Being a member of the organisation has added enormous meaning to my life. Raising a voice against issues in the lives of others is my most important duty. Nothing can match a humanistic gesture."

Rodhe isn't the only exceptional person in her family. Her son, Joakim Noah, is a basketball star and her daughter, Yelena, is a model and art student.

"I'm proud of them. My relationship with them goes beyond that of parent and child. I'm their friend. Whenever they need me I'm there for them. I have taught them to be independent and to believe in themselves," she said.

Rodhe was trained at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and studied with prominent French sculptors Zorok and Xavier Dambrine. She also worked with Mustaphe Dimpe in Senegal.

Her sculptures deal with elemental themes and often take the shape of eggs, which, she believes, reveal the message of hope.

"I'm a conceptual artist. I do abstract [art]. Therefore, I have to enhance my work with multimedia such as film, music and sound effects to transmit the message well. In my present work, I showcase five sets of twin pieces called The Listening Series, accompanied by the sound of stone. The soundtrack is very organic," Rodhe said.

Inspiration

Asked where she drew inspiration from, Rodhe said: "From ourselves. When we are left alone, a private dialogue takes place between our conscious and subconscious. I based the theme of my sculptures on this."

Rodhe uses many elements to accurately get across her message to art lovers.

"I use various techniques in my works to communicate with art-lovers. After all, art is an extraordinary sense of action and reaction," she said.

The artist said she felt honoured to be in Dubai because she had planned to visit the emirate for a long time. "I also felt very connected with the people I met here, especially the women. It is like a learning experience for me."

She had heard and read a lot about Dubai and would explore the city along with her children in her next visit, she added.

"I went to the Creek and liked it very much. I took a boat and went to the spice market. The buildings are incredible. Talking of architecture, the Dubai International Financial Centre is a masterpiece."

After Dubai Rodhe is going back to New York "to hand over 25 pages for my psychology class".

She also has many events, such as fundraisers for Innocence in Danger, lined up for next summer. "I also plan to bring my children to Dubai. I would love to do some big installation in Dubai the next time I am here," she said.

At present Rodhe is also holding workshops for children.

The MONEYworks Bronze and Art exhibition, which includes works of more than 40 artists, is on at the Dubai International Financial Centre until December 23.

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