Following in the family's footsteps

Caroline Krabbe.
Caroline Krabbe. / Amanda Arancibia Haugen Sørensen
  • Local artist, Caroline Krabbe, is originally from Denmark but has lived in the Axarquía with her family for 37 years. She is curating an exhibition of Danish artists at the Museo de Nerja over the summer

Caroline Krabbe has lived in the Axarquía ever since her parents decided to move to Spain from Denmark in 1981 when she was just 10 years old. Caroline was educated at the local schools in Frigiliana and recalls that the teachers "didn't really know what to do with the foreign kids", adding "we didn't speak the language". Caroline and her sister, Luise Haugen, were among only a handful of non-Spanish children attending the village's school in the 1980s.

Caroline, 47, comes from a family of artists. Her father, Arne Haugen Sørensen, is a painter while her mother, Dorthe Steenbuch Krabbe, is a ceramist and also runs the family's Krabbe Gallery in Frigilina. Her uncle, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, is also an artist.

Her parents made the move "because of the light here in the south of Spain," Caroline explains. The gallery, which opened in 2004, exhibits temporary exhibitions by other artists, but the main focus is on Arne's work.

Both she and her sister have followed in their parents' footsteps. Caroline uses felt-tip pens to create the most fascinating and detailed pictures of "anything" that comes into her head, from what she hears on the news -"I listen to the radio a lot while I'm working," she says - to images of life in the Axarquía.

The pictures look as if they are collages of small drawings, but she explains that it's one piece of paper, on which she starts at the bottom and works up.

She also paints, as does Luise, who has since returned to Denmark. Caroline explains that she is self-taught and she is currently studying History of Art at the University of Malaga.

The artist is now married to an Argentinean, Guillermo, with whom she has two grown up children. Her daughter is a photographer and lives locally, while her son is following in the footsteps of his father and is studying to be a dentist.


Unsurprisingly, Caroline is fluent in Spanish and also speaks excellent English. She says that she hasn't forgotten Danish either as the family uses their native language when speaking to each other. "I have always kept reading books in Danish to maintain my native language," she adds. While Caroline, unlike her sister, decided to stay in Spain, she makes regular trips back to Denmark and has many friends and contacts, especially with other artists, in her native country.

In fact Caroline belongs to an art group in Denmark called VISUEL, which is currently exhibiting at the Museo de Nerja. Caroline explains that the group has been together for three years and there are 10 members, all of whom are Danish.

Caroline travels to Denmark twice a year specifically to meet up with her fellow members. This year they have decided to come to her. "We always look for interesting places to exhibit and we are happy to wait until a good place comes up," Caroline explains. One of the first exhibitions the group held was in the Galeria Krabbe in 2016.

The latest exhibition opened on Thursday 18 July and will be on until 25 August. The title of the exhibition is 'Underground' as it's in the basement of the museum, which in turn is linked to the Nerja Caves. "Each of the artists was asked to produce three interrelating pieces with the theme, 'underground'," explains Caroline.

Some came up with work related to underground spaces such as caves, the sea or underground chapels, like at the Real Alcázar in Seville or the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. Others have gone for their own interpretations of underground movements, including a representation of the Russian feminist punk rock group, Pussy Riot, next to an image of the country's president Vladimir Putin.

Caroline explains that seven of the 11 participating artists are travelling to the area for the exhibition and during preparations when I caught up with her she admitted that many were "feeling the heat of Nerja in July!"

Caroline has also exhibited in Denmark, Germany, Los Angeles, Brazil and London and says that she is "delighted" to be curating the exhibition in the place she considers her home.