To start off where I finished in Part 1, my first week in Sweden was spent in Stockholm. This gave me a chance to visit the major museums of the country and see how hand-weaving and textiles are represented in exhibitions and collections. I visited the National Museum in Stockhom, directly across the water from the Swedish Royal Palace. I was very impressed with the quantity and quality of textiles in the museum: they were a strong presence in both the temporary and permanent exhibitions and exhibited easily alongside design and fine art. The range of textiles was quite impressive as well: historic tapestries from the 15th Century, textile design from the 1900s - 2000, and contemporary textile art.
Just like with the exhibition "Vav/Weave" at the Nordic Museum, I was lucky in the timing of my visit to the National Museum. An exhibition entitled "Slow Art" highlighted a tendency in contemporary art practice to embrace slow, process-based methods of art-making - perhaps as a reaction to the high-speed of today's world. The exhibition featured a selection of Swedish-based artists, each using what could be called craft-based materials and work methods. There were four hand-weavers represented in the exhibition, plus a few embroidery-based works - including the life-sized clawfoot bathtub embroidered on organza (above) by Helen Dahlman entitled "Sanitary Furniture" (2012).
I have always appreciated the fuzzy, static-like edges of ikat. I use ikat in my own work and am never meticulous enough to have perfect ikat colour edges, and I love the effect of "messy" ikat: the shifting of the dyed threads looking like a directional coloured pencil drawing.
During my visit to Stockholm's National Museum, I also took in the exhibition "Design 19002000" which focused on Swedish design across all the materials (textiles, wood, glass, metal, ceramics, furniture, product design). I discovered these wonderful damask weavings (above) from the early 1900s. I love the use of imagery and simple pattern weaves and they reminded me of some of the effects created by my own inlay work.
I promise less time will pass between this and my next installment about my Swedish textile odyssey! Stay tuned.....