Exhibitions

Project Space

YOUNG FACTORY WORKERS

Meet the young workers who made paper
 
'The first time we had 4 days of holiday here at the works was in the year 1918'
 
 
In this year’s historic exhibition at Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium we are highlighting accounts of the young people who worked at Vestfos Cellulosefabrik. 
 
What was life like for a 16-year-old working in the paper mill? How long was the working day and the night shift? Did the young workers have any leisure time? 
 
Our main source of information is still the historical archive of Vestfos Cellulosefabrik, which is housed in Vestfoldarkivet (The Vestfold Archive).
 
The archive itself has also led an ‘interesting life’, with poor conditions and neglect in its darkest period. When the factory closed in 1970, the archive was stored at the vacant Sagfogdgården (Sawmill Overseer’s house). Some ten years later it was re-housed in the cellar of Øvre Eiker Municipal Hall. There it gathered dust until 2018, when the National Archives of Norway and Buskerud County Council financed safe and permanent storage. The archive, which covers some 180 metres of shelves, is searchable online at Arkivportalen and accessible to the public in the archive’s reading room (Hinderveien 10 in Sandefjord).
 
In these exhibitions at Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium the lives contained in the archive come alive through photographs, salary accounts, job descriptions, redundancies, anniversaries, accidents. Our research into the archive is supplemented by interviews with people who worked at the factory.
 
The project is supported by Viken County Council and is a collaboration between Vestfoldarkivet, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium and Eiker Arkiv. 

 

Simen Simensen (19.02.1916 – 11.02.2002)
Simensen grew up in one of the oldest houses in Haugen, close by the paper mill. He started work at Vestfos Cellulosefabrik as a 16 year old in 1932, and was employed by the mill until its closure in 1970. He then went on to work at Mjøndalen Cellulose until its closure in 1976. Simensen was active in local societies, including Vestfossen IF (sports club) and Vestfossen Mannskor (male voice choir), and was awarded honorary membership of both.
  

Picture below:

Simen Simensen in Milorg (the official Norwegian Resistance during the Second World War)

 

3 Prosjektrommet VKL2022