Saturday, 11 February 2012

Artists from Denmark

After an incredible personal and cultural journey during my 4 month stay in Paris I am now back to London and back to reality. Although term started over a month ago it has been unbelievably hectic. Having been an exchange we were 6 weeks behind the others and left with only 4 weeks to conceive an idea and execute 6-8 quality woven samples to show at Indigo in Paris. Any weavers out there will know that even planning and making a warp can take weeks and then there's having to take into account the ancient uni looms which break ALL THE TIME! Anyway before talking more about the Indigo project I just wanted to mention some thoroughly interesting exhibitions I visited during my transition Paris London period at home in Wales.

1.Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown
A place in the country - Six artists from Denmark

This is a local contemporary art gallery where I used to work on reception. Usually it shows quite conceptual art and a lot of film work so this exhibition was definitely a refreshing change to the norm with significant emphasis on craft, tradition and heritage. 3 things which are often forgotten in our modern age. The group show consisted of 6 artists who's work was strongly connected to rurality and the notion of life at the margins. The majority of them live and work in an area called West Jutland which is in a remote location on Denmark's West coastline. The essence of the area, that of tranquility with only the sand dunes, birds and wind farms really resonate through the work which involves poetic texts, traditional needlecraft and textile installations hinting at stories of rural decline.

Thomas Wolsing
Collapsing House 2009
Cross-stitch textile

Karen Havskov Jensen
Rural Heraldry 2011
Hand knitted textile, found pitchfork

Karen Havskov Jensen
Around in the Reserve 2009
Hand made crochet, found furniture

Thomas Wolsing
Still Life 2011
Photographic print, clock, cross stitch textile

Thomas Wolsing
House of Despair 2010/11
Cross-stitch textile

I was particularly fond of these pieces because I found them extremely meaningful yet their message was portrayed in a subtle and thoughtful way. For example Karen Havskov Jensen's concerns about rural decline in West Jutland are portrayed through hidden symbols of decay carefully incorporated into her traditional crochet in the work Around in the Reserve. Theses appear in the form of fungi and cobwebs which are interweaved amongst the other more prosperous agricultural imagery associated with country life such as huntsmen and farm stock. Additionally the masking of old furniture by the crochet covering hints at the white sheeting used to cover furniture in a vacant house, I am really inspired by her drive to continue the use of traditional needlecraft techniques yet putting them into a new and innovative context.

Thomas Wolsing's work is equally emotive. His concentartion on the unravelling of threads acts as a clever metaphor for the unravelling of rural ways of life. He hints at the bygone era of embroidery, a traditional handicraft which used to act as a principal medium for rural people's self-expression. The transition of Denmark and growing polarization between the city and country is something of great interest to the artist and his ways of demonstrating this are fascinating.

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