Friday, September 11, 2009

Danish Tapestry

When I realized that my husband would be busy for 1 ½ of our 2 ½ days in Copenhagen, I decided to email Birgitta Hallberg, who I met last year at Convergence. I asked if I could visit her studio and she said she would meet me at my hotel at 10 am. When she arrived, I discovered she had invited Kari Guddal, another Danish tapestry weaver, to join us. Hallberg Studio Loom

Kari has a car, so she kindly chauffeured us around for the day, and I got to visit not one, but two tapestry studios.

Birgitta’s studio is upstairs in her small house.

The room is dominated by a large floor loom, which she uses to weave her tapestries.

There is also a nice big table, with a frame loom clamped to it (I’ve got to try that), a wooden swift, and some small tapestries waiting for frames. Hallberg Frame Loom

Birgitta weaves with thick weft bundles, in richly blended colors, and although she uses a cartoon, she makes up the colors as she goes along, interpreting the cartoon very loosely.

The result is a rich surface with very colorful, free and energetic marks.

Most of her tapestries are fairly large, but lately she has been enjoying working in small format as well.Hallberg small tapestries3

As we were leaving the studio, I noticed some lace bobbins, and discovered that Birgitta makes, and teaches, bobbin lace.

The linen threads she is using for this piece are so thin you can barely see them.

Hallberg Lace Detail

Birgitta also has quite a green thumb, so it was lovely eating lunch in her garden among the flowers, grape vines, tomatoes, peach tree and fig tree.

Hallberg Lace Detail 3

We ate fresh home-grown grapes and tomatoes, both red and yellow, along with cheese and home-baked bread and home-made Elderflower Cordial.

Kari’s studio is in a building with other artist studios, and she shares a space with another artist who works in various media. Kari has a very old, very large vertical loom that is on loan to her from a Royal Castle in Denmark. The top and bottom rollers are gigantic. Click on the photo to see a larger image.

Guddal Loom

Behind the loom, you can see various sticks and things hanging neatly on the wall; definitely an improvement over my messy basket that keeps toppling over! She is weaving 2 smallish tapestries (about 20 inches wide) side by side, at the moment, but normally she works very large. One of her tapestries is 301 x 202 cm! Guddal Yarns

Kari uses only one type of wool, Norwegian Spelsau, and she dyes it all herself. In a 1998 catalog, she said she had dyed more than 300 different tones.Guddal Butterflies

Her abstract tapestries have simple but intriguing compositions, with subtle, muted, earthy colors suggestive of landscape.

There is a feeling of ethereal light contrasting with deep warm darkness.

Kari gave me two catalogs of Danish tapestry. I could not resist accepting them, although to avoid paying for overweight luggage, Kim had ALL our books in his carry-on backpack, which now weighed about 50 pounds!

I’m enjoying the catalogs, and I’m amazed that there are so many accomplished tapestry weavers in such a small country. I’m also grateful to Birgitta and Kari for welcoming me into their studios.

1 comment:

Edith said...

This is just like going on tour with you!! Keep it's the closest I shall get for many years to having an experience like this!