Veronica Hodges Paper Artist

 You are currently living and working in Denmark, how did this come about?

I am born a raised in Denmark. My father was American and my mother Norwegian. They meet in Copenhagen when my father was on a school trip with fellow students from the Royal Academy of fine arts in Rome. Copenhagen was very “hot” back then in the 1970 ties because of the new Christiania. The free town in the middle of Copenhagen where hippies and others free thinkers gathered to break through with a new perception of live.

Currently you have a large installation at Ordrupgaad, discuss this …

Yes, I have a large installation at Ordrupgaard museum, in their garden in the newly renovated greenhouse. The greenhouse exhibition is dedicated to an artist to show an art piece for little less than one year at the time.

Where is Ordrupgaad the gallery and a little about it?

Ordrupgaard is a museum placed outside of the capital. A rich tradesman who donated his estate and art collection to the state. The museum has contemporary art and their permanent collection.

Ordrupgaard’s greenhouse dates from 1921 has regained its original position in the eastern part of the parkland following a sweeping renovation financed by the foundation Villum Fonden. It now re-emerges as a hothouse for contemporary art with a three-year exhibition program, where a new artist will create a site-specific work every year directing focus at climate and sustainability issues.

About your tree, and the making of it?

I have for a long time wanted to do a tree with roots and the tree having the feeling of a heavy weight. I had not done a tree before therefore this exhibition, and it became quite a challenge how to construct a tree on a solid ground.

I started out with doing a metal mesh so the large branches could be gathered inside the middle. Then when that was stable, I began to build the outside of the tree and connect the branches with the tree trunk.

I had to make the transition look natural. Giving the whole tree a surface that looks natural. Some of the branches are very dried up and almost crumbling. They were used in one part of the tree as new fresh branches were used on the other side. Then came all the flowers.

My intension was to have part of the tree in full blossom and other part of the tree witting. In way several seasons going on at the same time. On the floor there was leaves that have fallen and one can walk through them pick up the leaves and throw them in the air.

How did it came to be at Ordrupgaad? And in a Greenhouse set, in the garden of Ordrupgaad.

I was asked to make an exhibition in their greenhouse. As the first artist.  Opening after several years of renovation.

How does the passage of time and the environment effect the work?

In my work the passage of time has great importance. I would say that it is the most important element in my work. That everything is in a transforming faze. We as humans are here on earth for a very short period, our greatest value in life, is our own power of transforming whatever experience we run through in life. This is how we are formed. Our ability to live through life experience and transform our points of view makes us evolve into something new. We become stronger, when we embrace the power of pain and turn it into hope and understanding. We cannot expect not to change the course of a lifetime, it is just a question of who we become and what we do with our struggles. Self-destruction negativity is part of life, it will not carry you very long as those feelings will eat you up from within. Therefore, we must go through pain and begin to become grown up in all aspect of our behaviour, take responsibility, and if we can transcend pain into wisdom for our surroundings we have come far. But this is only the beginning.

As many things is life, we too change with the environment, weather or family and life circumstances. My tree changes during the curse of almost one year. Might be from beautiful blossom to wittered and dry almost no colour. But the importance is the process to be part of something we cannot control and not judge it for being better than or more beautiful just because it makes you smile with joy.

How important is the process of the making and the understanding of the slow destruction of the work, reach the viewers?

The slow destructing is not an end point but a place where things begin all over again. We need time in the not blooming period or the falling apart period to be able to blossom again. Blossoming is a will power of strength and magnitude, so blossoming is also cherishing all the time it took to come so far. It is the transformation part we need to embrace so it is not so important when you step into the installation you are a part if it when you enter the room at the perfect time of your own cycles.

This is not the only tree, flower installation you have had in a significant place.

Discuss the Cherry blossoms in the domed ceiling of Frederik’s Church.

The project in the marble church in Copenhagen was a giant project made of 16.000 paper flowers. It was a comment on many layers of knowledge. The masculine and the feminine in ourselves,  and the society. The male dominated architecture of the time and the awareness of us taking better care of mother earth. All together with doing something so big and I could not do it alone but needed to ask for help. A lot of help, in curse of a short period of time. The project depended on voluntary people helping me to succeed.

I had over 200 volunteers to help in this period of time. Lawyers, social workers, students, kids, grandparents’, friends ,my mother. Other friends and people who passed by. I even had a sign outside my studio “with come and give some time 30 min an hour and you will get a big hug”. Sometimes especially here in Copenhagen everybody is costumed to getting paid for their work. And we are not so easily encouraged to help when it not a matter of life and death.

Here it was help needed to do an art installation.  We needed to lift it together.  We did succeed, and I got the help I needed.

It was a very hard task and I’m happy we made it. But I could not do it again. It was too crazy, simply full craziness.

I would do the project again; nobody really understood the visuality of the project before it was hanging there.

How did this installation come about?

It took nearly 1,5 years to convince the church that this was a brilliant idea. And from there I was on my own to make it happen financially and practically.

It is not always easy to make big organizations like a church with no history of giant art project to bring on something new. I do not believe they have done anything similar since. It was a very big task.  I sincerely believe, if there are gatekeeps in charge of big spaces like that, magic can happen if they are willing to let people like me in. These types of art projects can have a healing effect on people and create a feeling of hope and togetherness. We need that, more than ever to understand that we are together on this journey of healing ourselves and healing the world. In that sense, we also heal our dearest mother earth.  She whom gave us life on earth.

How long was the installation in the Church?

The installation lasted for nearly 7 Weeks and was visited by nearly 200.000 people.

Why was it named, ‘Cherish’?

Cherish as in cherish blossom and we humans need to cherish the beautiful planet.

Who helped with the creation of the thousands of blossoms?

How was it installed?

The 7 branches were big in centimetres, that was nearly 4×7 meter for one branch. They were mounted in the middle of the church floor and then we had climbers rappelling on the inner side of the dome as we could not come up the with ladder or anything. The dome had been untouched on that side since it was built.

Are you always working to connect, art, academia, the public, and often commercial interests?

No, this part can go out as I have stopped my PhD. Project recently and will for the time being not become an academic person in the traditional context.

Apart from flora, you manipulate paper into fauna.  Discuss your Jellyfish series?

Flowers are a part of my interest; nature is my inspiration.  I always take an interest in what  needs attention. Everything under water is my passion. I am an ocean person. I love everything to do with water. I would say if I should be an activist, it would be for nature off course, but the ocean has at my heart.  Jellyfish are just a small, tiny part of that. They follow the current in water. They are woundable and beautiful, and we must respect the differences in spices also and especially in the ocean.

Where was it installed?

The jellyfish exhibition has been installed at the museum Arken south of Copenhagen. Also, at the Natural History Museum in Leiden. Holland


Discuss the reason behind the strong use of white.

I have only used just white once when I made and exhibition 6 years ago in a large shopping mall in Arhus. There everything was white to make an emphasis on the coral reef that loses its colour when we do not take care of the ocean.

I do use colour. But it is important for me than the total expression is seen, and one colour can often make the contrast to the big space that I am exhibiting in.

The exhibition at the greenery has lost a lot of colours over the last 6 months and is turning brown and white.


Do you find one installation naturally leads to another?

No, I do not think in that way, in some cases it does but my theme of work also has to play together with the building and the architecture I exhibit in. I always have a underlaying theme, I work with what has to be done to  taking care of the planet. So, it’s just how much the stakeholder wants to make my message a theme. I do emphasize on making it a requirement that it is visible and clear that I work for mother earth.

100% commercial approach is not my goal on earth.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a private commission in Oslo. It is so wonderful to have time to work with one piece. In the world of a Museum, you often work with a timeline of two to three year, so at the moment I am doing my best to fill up an assignment for the next 3 years. I do a lot of research to find a match and suggest a project. And sometimes it is only me having a brilliant idea. If the gatekeeper does not agree, then I need to move on to another, whom has the visual take and understand of my artwork.

Do you think having worked in the film industry has taught you to work big?

Yes absolutely. Film has taught me how to work in big scale, work fast and have a catch to the eye.

I love the film industry, but I also love the possibility to emerge into quietness in your own soul by having an inner experience with space and art.

My goal is to break thought the intellectual mind and go directly for the heart connection. I believe it is here we truly can change our selves and then make changes for the world. We need to step up to a higher consciousness  and I want to be part of that movement and hopefully inspire humanity, to take care of the planet with respect, dignity and love.

We need to change, and I am in for it. I am ready, to bring it on. My life purpose is to bring beauty and change to the world to those whom want to change the consciousness of humanity. That does not mean it is easy. It’s hard work to go through hard layers and its ugly at times to see yourself.

How do you cope knowing that the fragility of paper will not last into the future?   

The fragility of paper is beautiful as it corresponds to the fragility of our body and life. We are here for a short period of time, then we are dust and memories. I create experiences that live in the heart of the individual. The fact that my material becomes dust is just poetry for me. And why not pay for those who chose to use their life on doing floating poetry for the evolution of love. For me there cannot be a higher purpose in life than that. Yes, not to forget to love and make sure to listen to my children, feed them and give them a place to live. Those are the things that makes me truly happy and my life worth living.

Art as poetry should not have a price tag. That does not mean that the artist is not paid, just than you cannot put a price tag on the value of transformation and that can happen in life, in art or in your hearts and the knowledge we gather, we must give away not turn it into bitterness.

That is why we are here on the planet earth together to transform our selves and give hope for the next generation after us.


Veronica Hodges


Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, October 2023