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Discover the artists who portrays older people as wonders of nature

5 min read

Good Stuff
Source: Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen

“Eyes as Big as Plates” is a collaborative art project that transforms older people into mythical gods and incredible organic entities.

Eyes as Big as Plates: humans belonging to nature

Eyes as Big as Plates is the ongoing collaborative project between the Finnish-Norwegian artist duo Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. What started out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore has evolved into a continual search for modern human’s belonging to nature. 

The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics and ninety year old parachutists. Since 2011 the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, South Korea, Czech Republic, Japan, Senegal, Outer Hebrides, Tasmania and Greenland. The duo’s second book of unique portraits is due to be published later this year (details below).

Eyes as Big as Plates is the ongoing collaborative project between the Finnish-Norwegian artist duo Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Starting out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore, Eyes as Big as Plates has evolved into a continual search for modern human’s belonging to nature.
Bengt II (Norway 2011) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Eyes as Big as Plates is the ongoing collaborative project between the Finnish-Norwegian artist duo Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Starting out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore, Eyes as Big as Plates has evolved into a continual search for modern human’s belonging to nature. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics and ninety year old parachutists. Since 2011 the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, South Korea, Czech Republic, Japan, Senegal, Outer Hebrides, Tasmania and Greenland.
Agnes II (Norway 2011) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics and ninety year old parachutists. Since 2011 the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, South Korea, Czech Republic, Japan, Senegal, Outer Hebrides, Tasmania and Greenland. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
Each image in the series presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place. Here nature acts as both content and context: characters literally inhabit the landscape wearing sculptures they create in collaboration with the artists.
Astrid l & Astrid II (Norway 2011) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Each image in the series presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place. Here nature acts as both content and context: characters literally inhabit the landscape wearing sculptures they create in collaboration with the artists. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
As active participants in our contemporary society, these seniors encourage the rediscovery of a demographic group too often labelled as marginalised or even as a stereotypical cliché. It is in this light that the project aims to generate new perspectives on who we are and where we belong.
Halvar I (Norway 2011) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen As active participants in our contemporary society, these seniors encourage the rediscovery of a demographic group too often labelled as marginalised or even as a stereotypical cliché. It is in this light that the project aims to generate new perspectives on who we are and where we belong. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
The first Eyes as Big as Plates book featured portraits, field notes, essays and behind-the-scenes stories from the first six years of this project’s production.
Phetsavath (France 2013) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen The first Eyes as Big as Plates book featured portraits, field notes, essays and behind-the-scenes stories from the first six years of this project’s production. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
All 176 pages of the first volume were printed with eagle-eyed precision in Gothenburg in Sweden and bound together with love at the last bookbindery in Norway. Each one of these hardcover books was hand- finished with summer leaves on the front and back covers.
Gretha (Faroe Islands 2013) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen All 176 pages of the first volume were printed with eagle-eyed precision in Gothenburg in Sweden and bound together with love at the last bookbindery in Norway. Each one of these hardcover books was hand- finished with summer leaves on the front and back covers. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
Designed by Greger Ulf Nilson and published by Forlaget Press, the edition of 2000 books was brought to life by a roaring crowdfunding success in 2016. The book was published in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Paris Photo / Aperture Foundation – Photobook Awards the same year, as one of 20 books from nearly 1000 entries in the ‘First Photobook’ category.
Olafur (Iceland 2013) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Designed by Greger Ulf Nilson and published by Forlaget Press, the edition of 2000 books was brought to life by a roaring crowdfunding success in 2016. The book was published in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Paris Photo / Aperture Foundation – Photobook Awards the same year, as one of 20 books from nearly 1000 entries in the ‘First Photobook’ category. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
The first volume is now sold out, but a second successfully completed crowdfunding campaign has recently secured the realisation of a new book! Eyes as Big as Plates Vol 2 is planned to be published in conjunction with the ten-year anniversary of the project in 2021, and will feature sixty brand new works and field notes made over the last four years in South Korea, Tasmania, Outer Hebrides, Senegal, Iceland, Greenland and Norway.
Edda (Iceland 2013) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen The first volume is now sold out, but a second successfully completed crowdfunding campaign has recently secured the realisation of a new book! Eyes as Big as Plates Vol 2 is planned to be published in conjunction with the ten-year anniversary of the project in 2021, and will feature sixty brand new works and field notes made over the last four years in South Korea, Tasmania, Outer Hebrides, Senegal, Iceland, Greenland and Norway. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Bob II (US 2013) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
Older people, particularly in western societies, often report the sense that they feel invisible to society at large. Both Ikonen and Hjorth agree that the series tries to work against that – celebrating each person’s distinctive life story, the qualities that make them stand out from the crowd, quite apart from their extraordinary appearance.
Karin (Norway 2019) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Older people, particularly in western societies, often report the sense that they feel invisible to society at large. Both Ikonen and Hjorth agree that the series tries to work against that – celebrating each person’s distinctive life story, the qualities that make them stand out from the crowd, quite apart from their extraordinary appearance. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
The name of the project is taken from a folk tale about a dog that lives beneath a bridge and has eyes as big as plates.
Brit (Norway 2018) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen The name of the project is taken from a folk tale about a dog that lives beneath a bridge and has eyes as big as plates. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Markku (Finland 2012) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
Andrea (Outer Hebrides 2019) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen Source: eyesasbigasplates.com
Ikonen had originally been looking for a way to reinterpret the tales of trolls and magic creatures, but became intrigued by Hjorth’s photo series of Norwegian grandmothers and got in touch. The pair have been collaborating since 2011.
The focus of the project has evolved over time. Ikonen had originally been looking for a way to reinterpret the tales of trolls and magic creatures, but became intrigued by Hjorth’s photo series of Norwegian grandmothers and got in touch. The pair have been collaborating since 2011. Source: eyesasbigasplates.com

Eyes as Big as Plates 2 available soon or preorder

The first volume of Eyes as Big as Plates is now sold out, however a second successfully completed crowdfunding campaign has recently secured the realisation of a new book! Eyes as Big as Plates Vol 2 is planned to be published in conjunction with the ten-year anniversary of the project in 2021, and will feature sixty brand new works and field notes made over the last four years in South Korea, Tasmania, Outer Hebrides, Senegal, Iceland, Greenland and Norway. Click here for more details or to preorder a copy. Spotted on GoodNewsNetwork.

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