Above a skirt with pattern inspired by random flowers and forms in Stiftelsen Skånsk Hemslöjd and and Östra Skånes Hemslöjdsförening archives / collections of handicraft objects. The black and white textile is a close up of an originally more colorful piece to be found in the archives. Thank you Cecilia Pettersson for helping me with the pattern layout.
Finally I’m able to show you some of what I’ve been working with the past year together with Hemslöjden i Skåne, a project called #handicraftarchives / Väva Spis where I’ve been developed a series of unique items inspired by Stiftelsen Skånsk Hemslöjd and and Östra Skånes Hemslöjdsförening‘s amazing archives / collections of handicraft objects, in collaboration with local craftsmen and small scale producers from Skåne and Västra Götaland. The results will be shown in an exhibition at Hemslöjden in Landskrona starting May 20, 2017. Read more about the project in this, and coming posts.
You can also find photos and info on Instagram, via @finelittleday, @slojdiskane under the hashtags #vavaspis #vävaspis #handicaftarchives. And during the week a website www.vavaspis.se will pop up. Väva Spis has been carried out with the support of Region Skåne.
The story behind the project is described below in a text by Johanna Lagerfors, translated by Tovalisa Dunker.
A wall of framed floral embroidery, drawings made by children and curtains of crocheted tablecloths. Other people’s creativity holds a special place with the designer and artist Elisabeth Dunker. She has always collected things that people create with their hands, things that might not have ended up perfect, and precisely because of that feels perfect.
– The aesthetics of folk art and handicrafts has always appealed to me. I salute it and love it, she says.
When Åsa Stentoft, handicraft consultant at Skåne handicraft associations, approached Elisabeth in late 2015 with a request for a joint project, that therefore became the beginning of an evident collaboration. The basic idea of the project was to disseminate knowledge of the two archives in Hemslöjdens possession, the archives that the union for years worked to digitize and make available on Digitalt Museum. The archives consists of thousands of handicrafts made throughout several centuries and that anyone can enjoy.
To reach out to younger people that work creatively Hemslöjden wanted to use social and digital communication channels. With hundreds of thousands of global followers through the brand and creative platform Fine Little Day Elisabeth Dunker was an obvious cooperation partner. Åsa Stentoft quickly realized they shared ideas, values and interests to take advantage of handmade objects from the old as well as new times.
– Our idea with the project was to show the archives could inspire designers in many different areas. Thus making it a benefit for us that Elisabeth is not educated within textile, and therefore can look at what we have from a different perspective. It’s been really exciting for us to see what she has taken a liking for and see how archives can inspire people that do not primarily work with textiles, Åsa Stentoft says.
Originally, Elisabeth made a digital exhibition on digitaltmuseum.se and highlighted objects that inspired her under the #handicraftarchives hashtag on Instagram. She also wrote about findings from the archives on the Fine Little Day blog, which repeatedly has been named one of the world’s most influential interior design blogs. It directly resulted in more people finding out about the digital archives. Later, plans for a physical exhibition started to take shape, and thus sowed the seed for the project Väva Spis.
The name of the exhibition, Väva Spis (weave a stove) originated from the essence of handicraft that is all about “taking something you have to create something you need.” The stove symbol stands for the groups of women that throughout history have been sitting together in their kitchen and embroidered, sewn or woven.
Spismattan, The stove rug – designed by Elisabeth Dunker, weaved by Kristina Bourghardt Hattenbach.
– There is an incredible women’s history embedded within the collections of the objects. There is knowledge and brilliance, endless stories and a material that is cohesive while at the same time being culturally variegated. That is the way it is with crafts and folk art; take one textile from Asia, one from Africa and one from Scandinavia and there is something that unites them, some social relation, Elisabeth Dunker says.
She has always liked the stove as a symbol, both for its graphic form, but also for what it represents.
– The stove or cooking place exists in all cultures, even if it looks different. For me it is a symbol of life itself.
Hemslöjdens hopes that Elisabeth Dunker would find new ways to re-cultivate the treasures from the archive were immediately met after the work began. One of the first things Elisabeth was fascinated by in the collections were black and white, half-colored photographs of Swedish folk textiles. The bitwise coloring has been done for future generations to know how the objects looked like in its original form, but Elisabeth found the graphics of the photographs themselves appealing. A woven rug inspired by these photographs, half black and white and half in color, became one of the first products that were developed for the exhibition.
The Viggen rug – designed with inspiration by a black and white (half colored) photo of a small piece of textile by Elisabeth Dunker, weaved by Gunvor Johansson.
– That was an eye-opener for us. The rug has gotten its pattern from a small piece of an old textile. Enlarged, it becomes something else entirely. At the same time, the rug is equally inspired by the documentation of the fabric itself, because the black and white photo became the template. It was a new way for us to look at the material, Åsa Stentoft says.
Similarly, the back of an embroidered vest was made to an embroidered pattern on a sweater. Elisabeth Dunker has always had a penchant for the a tad awkward, things that does not feel corrected, and for the exhibition she has created another series of prototypes for new products developed in collaboration with craftsmen and small-scale producers in Skåne and Västra Götaland. Although Elisabeth loves handicrafts, she has no personal experience of it, and during work became deeply impressed by the handicraft abilities.
The “Fyllebroderi” sweater inspired by the backside of an embroidered vest from the 19th century. The sweater, embroidered by Eva Berg.
– They are possessing huge knowledge and it is cool to see how it is stored physically, tactile, in their hands, she says.
This cross-fertilization between smithers and designers, both from Sweden and other countries, has become the main objective of the project. Historically, that type of exchange has occurred to a large extent, not to mention during the golden age of the handicraft of the mid-20th century. Many objects in the collections testifies about that. But when cheap mass production abroad became the death of many Swedish industries in the 1970s, the conditions changed radically. It became a hard time for Swedish handicraft, and the new conditions have created the need for new forms of cooperation.
Today handicrafts has a favorable climate again. Items with personal stories has become trendy interior decorations and the interest in reuse is widespread. The old deeds of previous generations about taking what you have and creating what you need remains alive. Or rather, alive again.
When the exhibition Väva spis opens at Hemslöjden in Landskrona on May 20th, visitors will see the distilled results of countless meetings between Fine Little Day and Hemslöjden. The basic idea of “marrying the historical objects with contemporary fashion” is present. New combinations of old designs have become apparel that feels modern and contemporary. Some of them will be sold during the exhibition and via Fine Little Day.
The project does not end with the exhibition in Landskrona. In the fall of 2017 it will continue through the country, first to Fine Little Day in Lindome in September, then to the Region Museum in Kristianstad and possibly to Handarbetets vänner in Stockholm.
Elisabeth Dunker will continue to seek inspiration in the archives and feels that she has gained a more structured way of working through the project.
– I’m thankful for it, and hopefully I can also pass it on to others. I take with me the feeling that art is allowing and that you are allowed to fail. Perfection feels so distanced, she says, and describes how in our modern society it is easy to massproduce products, but more difficult to produce objects with nerve.
– The nerve that handmade things consist of is the true allure.
Teamwork all the way. I drew the flowers, Matilda Ekström Rosenberg screen printed the textile, Satoko Kobayashi Fridolf sewed the skirt and Emmelie Böl wore it.
Spismatta. Below is the stove, weaved by Kristina Bourghardt Hattenbach (more photos are coming). Thank you Elin Odengard for borrowing us your wall.
Silk paper with creatures, plants and forms inspired by the archives.
Below inspiration pieces to the above “Viggen” wool sweater (knitted by Mariedal Design) and wrist warmers (knitted by Blommiga Gredelina).
See the lion textile here.