Over the Sea, Under the Sky: Contemporary Danish Tapestry
Ulrikka Mokdad, Curator
Annelise Kofoed-Hansen, born 1941 in Copenhagen.
Annelise Kofoed-Hansen was originally educated as a graphic designer. Afterward, she trained as a fashion designer, and it was not until 1975, when she settled on the island of Bornholm with her family, that she started weaving tapestries. Annelise works with poetic images in both tapestry and graphic arts. Sketches and impressions from her many stays in Greenland, along with her daily inspiration from the powerful nature around her, are interpreted and woven into heartfelt, narrative poems of wool, linen and silk. However, her source of inspiration stems not only from the landscapes and seascapes of Greenland and Bornholm. The Inuit culture with its old tales and legends also has an important influence on her artistic expressions. Living on the island of Bornholm, she has exhibited her tapestries in Denmark and abroad since 1988, and has carried out a number of large commissions for both churches and public buildings since she established her workshop there in 1978.
Apart from being a graphic artist and tapestry weaver Annelise Kofoed-Hansen is also a poet and has published her first collection of poems, Ice Flowers, in 2009.
Annette Graae had her first experience with tapestry art as a very young girl. Her mother originally came from Norway, and Annette and her family traveled to her mother’s home country up to four times every year. During one of the family trips to Oslo, she saw Hanna Ryggen’s tapestries, which made a big impression on her. Seeing the textile sculptures by Abakanowicz exhibited in Copenhagen was crucial to her decision to become a textile artist. She served her apprenticeship as a weaver at John Becker’s workshop in 1964 and at Jette Gemzøe’s workshop from 1964-1967. She has run her own workshop since 1967. Over the years, many of her tapestries have come to embellish large companies, hospitals, public libraries and town halls.
In 1998, Annette Graae decided to reset her colour scheme. She wanted to depict ice and snow, and let the colour white play the leading role in her woven motifs and compositions. Apart from weaving tapestries, she has edited several exhibition catalogues as well as three reference books on Danish textile art.
Birgitta Hallberg, born 1942 in Malmö, Sweden.
Birgitta Hallberg grew up in Malmö, a town on the eastern side of the Sound, the narrow strait between Copenhagen, Denmark and the Scania region of Sweden. In the southern regions of Sweden, especially in Scania, there has been a strong tradition of tapestry weaving up to this day. Birgitta discovered weaving as a teenager, when she visited her friend’s grandmother who lived in the forest and who kept a hand loom in her house. The old woman taught her weaving and encouraged her to find inspiration for motifs and colors in the surrounding woods. From 1964-1967 Birgitta studied textile art at Konstfackskolan in Stockholm. In 1969, she moved to Copenhagen where she continued her studies at Kunsthaandvaerkerskolen from 1969-1971. Since her début in 1974 at The Artists’ Autumn Exhibition in Copenhagen, Birgitta Hallberg has exhibited her tapestries and miniature weavings all over the world, including ATB 5 and 7, STI 3, and the 3rd to 8th From Lausanne to Beijing International Fiber Art Biennale, China.
Birthe Bo Sakurai, born 1946.
In Birthe Bo Sakurai’s artistic universe, the sea with its colors and creatures, both shells and conches as well as mythological beings, such as mermaids, play an important part. She was born on the rocky island of Bornholm in the middle of the Baltic Sea. From her early childhood, she saw the dancing of the Subterranean People who are said to live within barrows and under large rocks. As she grew up, she made friends with some of the island’s artists and decided to become a painter.
In 1969-1970, Birthe was the first autodidact Danish artist to receive the Bourse de l’Études du Gouvernement Francais in order to study with Professor Michel Tourliére at Ècole National d´Art Décoratif, Aubusson, France. At Aubusson she studied the art of painting cartoons for tapestries and also paintings for walls and architectural space. During 1971-1972, she continued her studies of mural art and sculpture with Professor Carlos Canero at Ècole National d´Art Décoratif in Paris. From 1973-77 Birthe studied textile design at the School of Arts and Crafts, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Birthe Bo Sakurai has developed woven conches in three dimensions made from steel wire and nylon ropes. For her wall hangings, however, she prefers to work in the classical French tapestry techniques.
Hanne Skyum was born in Bording, Jutland and currently lives on the island of Als in the south of Denmark. She grew up in a home where various traditional textile crafts, such as knitting, sewing, embroidery and weaving, were integrated into everyday life. During their childhood, she and her siblings were encouraged to make and decorate their own clothes and small household items like tea towels and kettle holders.
Hanne’s parents owned a furniture shop where they also sold paintings and carpets. Hanne was fascinated by these paintings, and knew from an early age that she wanted to be either a painter or craftsperson. After finishing her baccalaureate, she went to a folk high school for two years before entering the Jutland Academy of Art in 1983. Here, she was trained as a tapestry weaver from 1983-1987. Since her graduation in 1987, she has run her own workshop where she produces both ecclesiastical textiles, such as chasubles and antependia, as well as large-format wall hangings.
Jenny Hansen was born and raised on Funen in the middle of Denmark. As a young woman during the 1970s, she took evening classes in spinning, plant dyeing and weaving. Except for that experience, she is an autodidact artist who never attended any arts and crafts school or academy of fine arts. Nevertheless, she has managed to become a successful tapestry weaver whose artwork has been shown both nationally and abroad since her début in 1974. Her monumental tapestries decorate city halls, hospitals and high schools as well as corporate offices, and can be found in the collections of several Danish art museums.
Jenny works on a large high-warp loom and shares her workshop in Hobro, Jutland with her husband, painter Mogens Nielsen. Her cartoons are based on painted miniature sketches that she manipulates by computer, a working method she discovered in 1995. Besides weaving, she has designed a carpet for the queen and curated several exhibitions of textile art.
Marianne Poulsen, born 1950.
Marianne Poulsen was born and raised at Frederiksberg in Copenhagen. After finishing her education as a teacher of hand weaving, from 1974 to 1978, she moved out of town and settled in the country. She currently lives in the rural region of Odsherred on the north of Zealand where the surrounding farmland with its fertile fields, hills and barrows serves as the main inspiration for her large tapestries. She has exhibited her artworks both in Denmark and abroad since 1992, and has carried out several large commissions for tapestries. In 2014, she took part in the Bosko Petrovic Tapestry Colony organized by Atelje 61 in Novi Sad, Serbia. There she designed and produced a large-size cartoon for tapestry that will be woven by the weavers of Atelje 61 in 2015 and 2016. Besides being a tapestry weaver, Marianne also expresses herself in ceramics and music. Since 1985, she has run the workshop together with her husband Tue Poulsen, a well-known ceramic artist and designer.
Mette Lise Rössing, née Hansen 1943.
Mette Lise Rössing was born and raised on Zealand in the village of Allerslev. She is the daughter of the well-known author Martin A. Hansen. Her mother Vera kept a hand loom at home on which she produced artistic items for the family household. Mette Lise lost both of her parents at a very young age, and by the age of sixteen, she was sent to Oslo, Norway to learn textile craft. From 1960-1962, she was a student at Statens Kvinnelige Industriskole. Later on, from 1962-1964, she served her apprenticeship in tapestry weaving at Norsk Billedvev A/S, the Museum of Applied Arts. In 1965, Mette Lise returned to Denmark with her husband Ullrich Rössing, who she had met and married in Norway. Together they ran their own workshop for 35 years where they took commissions and produced ecclesiastical textiles. Mette Lise Rössing is the author of The Thread’s Course in Tapestry, published in 2013.