Gallery 2: THE LAND

Essay, Curator Information,  Artists’ Information,  Gallery 1,  Gallery 3,  Gallery 4

Over the Sea, Under the Sky: Contemporary Danish Tapestry

Ulrikka Mokdad, Curator

Gallery 2: THE LAND

Birgitta Hallberg was born in Malmö, Sweden but she has lived in Denmark since 1969. She bases a large part of her artwork on the Scanian folktales of her childhood about mysterious and wonderful creatures that are said to inhabit the extensive forests of her home country. As a child, she was spellbound and enthralled by these tales, and as an adult she has made them come alive as a recurrent theme in her art. Thus, her tapestries “woven with her heart, her eyes and her hands” [1] can be seen as a journey into the fairytale world where anything can happen.

Birgitta works in both large and small formats. Her large tapestries are created on a ten shaft Glimåkra loom, while her small works are produced on a vertical frame loom at the table. For the big formats, she weaves on a black cotton warp and combines tapestry technique with that of rose path in order to let the black warp ends peek through the surface now and then, thereby enhancing the clarity of the bold colors. Underneath the warp, she keeps a black and white sketch with the outlines of her motif. She prefers to choose her weft colors intuitively during work instead of planning everything beforehand.

In recent years, Birgitta has traveled to the northern part of Scandinavia and to Iceland with her sketchbook and colored pencils. She uses the sketches from her journeys as inspiration for her tapestries, and her fascination with the rough cliffs, the wild sea, the ever-changing weather and the impressive glaciers is expressed in many of her large tapestries and her miniature works.

In Mette Lise Rössing’s works, nothing is left to chance. Each weft thread is positioned carefully and exactly. Her colors are mostly subdued earth tones and her compositions are fascinating in their clarity and precision. She seems to be more prone to take away than to add. Her motifs are deliberately reduced to their essential meaning: symbolic landscapes, often seen from above, in which human and animal activity can be detected. This is the case with the miniature tapestry “On Earth,” which can be interpreted as an almost abstract depiction of farmland fields where trails radiate from a square of blue water. She has used the same sketch for “Under the Earth,” but here we are witnessing a green sprout that has started to grow from roots hidden beneath the surface of the ground. This sketch was used once more for “Over the Earth,” where celestial phenomena, light, fog and clouds are represented.

The expression of Mette Lise’s art is inextricably linked to her excellent handicraft. Throughout her career, she has explored a large number of tapestry techniques used by native peoples from Norway to Peru and from Canada to Egypt. Her knowledge and skillful use of surface structures, such as flying needle, soumak and weft twining, play an important part in her pictorial language, and are necessary for carrying out her designs. In 2013, her many years of studying traditional native tapestry techniques resulted in the publishing of her book The Thread’s Course in Tapestry, which has already become a must-have for tapestry weavers all over the world.


1. Quoted from an artist interview: http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/artist_interviews/022_birgitta_hallberg_11.html

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