Waanzinnig Interessant Talent: Annika Ekdahl

Annika Ekdahl

Deze keer wil ik Annika Ekdahl aan je voorstellen. Zij is voor mij een groot voorbeeld. Je kunt gerust zeggen dat ik fan ben. En dat terwijl ik haar werk nog nooit in het echt gezien heb. Een paar jaar geleden heb ik gobelin weven geleerd. Ik was al lang geboeid door deze techniek maar er is in Nederland nog maar weinig kennis hierover te vinden. En nog maar weinig kunstenaars gebruiken deze techniek. Misschien wel omdat dit een tijdrovend werk is. Ik kan het weten want ik ben al een jaar bezig met een werk.

I want to tell you about Annika Ekdahl. A few years ago I learned how to weave goblins. There is almost no information here in the Netherlands about this beautiful technique. And there are so few artists who work with this. Of course, it is very time consuming. I know for I am working on the same piece for more than a year now. 

2-2013-annika-ekdahl

Annika Ekdahl

Ik ben op internet en in boeken op zoek gegaan naar informatie over het beeldweven. Ik kocht het prachtige boek: Tapestry, a woven narrative. Het staat vol met informatie en foto’s. En in dit boek zag ik voor de eerste keer werk van Annika. En ik vond ze adembenemend. Haar kleden zijn zo vol kleur en beelden. Ik kan er uren naar kijken. Je herkent de klassieke stijl van het gobelin weven maar dan met modern beelden. Neem  ‘The baroque party’ die de klassieke compositie van de oude meesters heeft, maar met hedendaagse mensen. En natuurlijk de kleur, ik houd van de roden.

So I searched the internet and looked for books about tapestry weaving. I bought this wonderful book: Tapestry, a woven narrative. It is loaded with information and pictures. In this book I saw for the first time the tapestries of Annika. And I found them breath-taking. They are full of colour and full of pictures. There is so much going on in her tapestries. You recognize the classical style but yet they are so modern. Like ‘The baroque party’, which is a typical classical composition.  But with modern people! And of course, I like the colours. I love reds.

Tapestry-A-Woven-Narrative

Boek: Tapestry A Woven Narrative

Ik sla de pagina om en daar zag ik: Definitely Gold. Wauw! Waar het eerst naar kijken? Je ogen glijden over het kleed. Details inzoomen en dan weer terug naar het totaal beeld. Er is zo veel te zien. Het kleed is vol beelden. Eni k vind de kleuren geweldig. Dit is helemaal waarom ik van tapestry houd. Daarom wil ik het leren, om dit te kunnen… De afmetingen zijn 300x300cm. En ik was zo nieuwsgierig wie dit gemaakt had.

And then on the next page, I saw: Definitely Gold.  Wow! Where to look first! Your eyes wander over the tapestry, zooming in and out. There is so much to see. It is full with figures. I find it so lovely coloured. This is why I want to learn tapestry. The complex image, the dimensions (300x300cm), the story telling.  So, who is Annika Ekdahl, the artist mentioned.

Ze is Zweeds, geboren en getogen. In Zweden en grote delen van de wereld is ze een bekende moderne beeldweefster. Ze heeft een graad in textiel en heeft middeleeuwse, renaissance en barokke gobelin kleden uitvoerig bestudeerd. Ze reist regelmatig tussen de Scandinavische en Noord Europese landen om les te geven en verder te studeren.

She is born and lives in Sweden. She is a well-known contemporary tapestry weaver. She has been studying Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque tapestries. She regular travels through the Scandinavian and northern European countries to lecture and study tapestry.

baroque-hela

The baroque party

Als ze een ontwerpt maakt, zoekt ze haar inspiratie in haar dagelijkse omgeving. Ik vind het echt een sterkte van haar dat ze deze dagelijkse gebeurtenissen kan vertalen naar spannende inspirerende beelden. Ze heeft, bijvoorbeeld, een kleed geweven met als onderwerp een bruiloft. ‘The wedding in Queens’. Tuurlijk een bruiloft is altijd leuk, maar toch ook wel een beetje gewoon. Leuk voor de mensen die erbij waren, maar niet voor iedereen. Maar haar bruiloft raakt je, het is spannend, een beetje mysterieus. Donker en vervaagd. Wat gebeurt er? Het nodigt uit om nog eens goed te kijken. Ook hier vind ik haar kleuren, de donkere tonen, heel mooi. Het laat zien dat ook met een beperkt kleurpalet zij een prachtig beeld kan neerzetten.

When she designs a tapestry, she takes her inspiration out of her daily life. I find it one of her strengths that she can translate these daily events in exciting and inspiring images. For example, she created ‘The wedding in Queens’. Okay, a wedding. That is nice of course. But a bit common don’t you agree? Great for the people involved but do you want to look at pictures of everyone’s wedding? I do not. But her ‘wedding’ scratches your interest. It is a bit dark and vague. What is happening? You cannot help to take a closer look. And now the fact that we know what a wedding is, is actually helping. Great tone values show that she also can work with a restrained colour palette.

baroque.definitely-gold

Definitely Gold

Als je haar website bezoekt vind je mooi foto’s met veel details van haar werk. Heerlijk om zo dichtbij het maken van een weefsel te kunnen bekijken. De afgelopen jaren heb ik haar op Facebook gevolgd waar ze bezig was met haar projecten in opdracht, ‘Follow me’. Ze heeft de opdracht gekregen van KORO-Art in Public Space, uit Noorwegen voor de universiteit van Oslo. Ze is er drieenhalf jaar mee bezig geweest. Uiteindelijk zijn ze in maart van dit jaar geplaatst.

Visiting her website you will find great photos with details of her works. Nice to get a closer look of the making of tapestry. The last years I followed her on Facebook while she worked on her commissioned projects ‘Follow me’. The commission was given to her by KORO – Art in Public Space, Norway, for Oslo University College. It took her 3,5 years to complete these two tapestries. In March 2015 they were placed and looking great!

Een inspirerende kunstenaar met een groot ambachtskunde. Beeldtapijten weven is een langzame kunst en vraagt veel geduld en inzet van de maker. Zeker als je het werk zelf doet en geen goedkope arbeid inkoopt, kun je maar weinig kleden in je leven maken. Dit maakt ze nog kostbaarder.

A very inspiring artist with great craftsmen skills. Making tapestries is a very slow art and is asking a lot of patience and endurances from its maker. If you are making your art yourselves and do not buy cheap labour in less fortunate countries you only can make a few tapestries in your life. This makes them especially valuable.

baroque-cake barogue-gold-hand

Ik vond het spannend om haar te benaderen. Ik heb het toch gedaan en ze heeft de volgende vragen beantwoord. Natuurlijk kun je ook genieten van de foto’s, kijk ook op haar website en laat me weten of je net zo enthousiast bent.

I did ask Annika some questions about her work. You can find her answers below. Please do visit her website. (link) Also enjoy the photos and tell me what you think.

The Baroque Party

Darlings

  1. Do you consider there is still a place in art for tapestry weaving? I do not know how the situation in Sweden is, but here in my country (the Netherlands) there is not much attention for tapestry.

Dear Marjan,

It’s interesting that you, who live in one of the countries that used to produce glorious tapestries, still highly valued in museum as well as in public and private collections, declare the lack of interest in the art genre today. Is that really true? How come?

I spend a lot of time looking at tapestries in museums in Europe, Australia, USA, Japan and Korea. I have visited universities in several countries, focusing on if/how tapestry is taught today.  My impression is that the closer you get to the source (France, The Netherlands, Belgium… maybe also Italy, UK) the more obvious is your ‘contact phobia’ – if you excuse the expression. In USA, Australia or South Korea, where the art genre is an immigrant, people seem to have great respect for the culture heritage and at the same time colleagues and students from these countries perform really good at the contemporary art scene.

In Sweden, as well as in other countries, tapestries were once an important and expensive show off for the rich and powerful as well as functional interior design and a demonstration of excellent craftsmanship. They passed on biblical, mythological and other text based stories. Or were bragging about battles and victories. Much later, in the 1970th and 80th, textile art (including tapestry) was a strong voice on the political art scene because of its historical and cultural connotations to warmth, survival, comfort… time…Textiles of all kind are good at making statements beyond themselves.

You ask me if there is still a place in art for tapestry weaving. My answer is that there is no place for art representing any genre if it is not good. If it is predictable and boring, sloppily made or underestimating the spectator.

So let’s avoid that.

Scandinavian textile artists are well educated and perform successfully on the tapestry scene.  And I have the impression that students, due to the rising interest for ‘hand making in real time’, are approaching this narrative technique pretty optimistic. Everybody loves a good story.

The question is if there are enough good role models, teachers, mentors, curators and exhibitions. (If you are the head of a museum and hate big crowds of visitors – don’t arrange a textile art show. Everybody will come!)

Baroque party detail

Detail Darlings

  1. Referring to the first question. How did you learn the skill of tapestry weaving? I weave myself and it was really hard to find someone who could teach me the basics, Now I am learning while weaving.

I learned it by myself, from a book.  Maybe that’s the reason why I from day one skipped methods and habits that I didn’t understand, or didn’t find useful or relevant. Everything was problem-free back then.

Later I got a master degree in textile art, and during my studies I became more aware the bigger tapestry context.

  1. Can you tell us something about your process of design? What inspires you? Do you make a drawing/cartoon or photocollage?

People inspire me. Real people. Relations. Animals. And stories. So, stories about living creatures in interesting surroundings – there you have it. Let’s say that life inspire me.

Nowadays I make most of the design digital. I like the idea that there is no cartoon, no painting or collage. That puts an end to the discussion whether the woven piece is a secondary media or not. My tapestries are first media since the design/sketch is immaterial.

The wedding party

The Wedding party

  1. Your colour choices are exquisit. Do you use manufactured wool or do you dye your wool yourself?

Basically I dye my yarns, but if I find something suitable in shops or at markets, I don’t hesitate to add it to my bulk of material.

  1. This is rather a technical remark.. I notice you are using a large Basse LIsse or Low warp to weave. I have learned that you weave on low warp at the backside of the design. But I see you working on the frontside of your design. Also I notice you are not using any bobbins or needles for your threads. I find this very intriguing. Is this the way you have learned weaving or did you adjust your way of working? I suppose you do not use very long wool threads.

I work with a low warp and I weave from the front. No tools accept my fingers. I’ve strived for shortest way possible from my brain to my fingers. When I learned to weave I didn’t understand idea with weaving from the back – unless my intention was to use the rollakan interlacing, with it wasn’t. I still don’t understand why I should weave from the back and get so tide up to the design/cartoon/sketch. But we all do different choices.

road-movie-laptops

 

 

baroque-theatre-marina

  1. Your project “Follow me” is finished. Great works! Are you planning more projects. Pick up a old one or starting a whole new one?

When I got the Follow Me commission I was working on a tapestry I call “The Graduation Party”. I had to take it out from the loom and store it for 3,5 years. Now it’s back into the loom again. You can follow the work on the Facebook page The Graduation Party Tapestry.

  1. Can you tell us something about working on commission? How much influence do you have on the design, the size and the subject? Is there a deadline?

Of course you have influence! Otherwise I wouldn’t be interested. But you have to interact with a defined space/wall, which means you have to consider the architect’s colour scheme and the interior design in whole. I find that challenging, in a good way. And most qualified art educations include public art projects. Tapestries have always been a part of the stage design of human activity. But the artistic interpretation, rights and responsibility are always yours. If someone tries to mess with that – walk away. And yes, there’s always a deadline. For everything. We will not live forever.

getouw

 

Alle foto’s zijn met toestemming van Annika Ekdahl, geleend van haar website.

All pictures can be found on the site of Annika Ekdahl. Shown to you with permission of Annika Ekdahl.