All the soulless things that enter our lives as anonymously as they exit. They are manufactured somewhere far away only to be consumed, exhausted and discarded here. Ephemeral and interchangeable they sooner or later end up in land fills and junkyards.
I wanted to make a patchwork where the conception and execution would be the complete opposite of this. The people involved, their time and care would all be included, and the artisanship would be readily visible. It would be a patchwork trimmed with lace and I wanted to involve many others in the process.
My mother collected lace and left several boxes after she passed and my mother’s mother even left me her mother’s lace pantalettes. In addition, I had myself accrued an assortment of laces that were just waiting to be used. Friends and family contributed with everything from tiny strips to several feet, sometimes a part of an in law’s sheet, sometimes the trim of a daughter’s leggings. It could be skilfully tatted, or just been bought in the department store.
Most laces were from old sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths that had been used, washed, ironed and mangled a long time ago. Working with these pieces I found myself wondering whose hands were behind the beautiful tatting, embroidering or crocheting.At times I’ve perceived human characteristics in the artisanship. For example, my paternal grandmother was a frail and meticulous woman with a need for order. Her seams are sequences of minute stitches, made from thread as thin as a string of gossamer. Her work was a wonder of perfection. My maternal grandmother, on the other hand, embroidered her sheets with monograms in mercerised yarn; a multi-threaded, twined and rather thick yarn. She was a sturdy woman who liked colours and floral textiles. She had a tendency to make somewhat of a mess, and when she put her mind to something, she wanted it finished fast.
I also received a bag of lace from my brother-in-law’s family. In it were several feet of a crocheted lace, two centimeters wide, in the straightest cut I had ever seen. Its near military discipline made it seem as though it had been measured by a machine. I saw before me a resolute woman of principle, who rose every morning at 6, seven days a week, to add another inch. The lace turned out to be the handiwork of three sisters from a few generations past. They were the daughters of a vicar in Alseda, Småland and one can imagine the principle and discipline such a background ensures. Alma married into a well-reputed family of business and nance, and Ida never married. Elsa was a nurse at the merchant navy school Skeppsgossekåren in Marstrand, and I’d like to believe that it was she who rose every morning to crochet.
Much history has been sewn into the patchwork and if you give yourself enough time you can sense the presence of all those involved. When the time comes I hope that this patchwork is not simply thrown away but buried with reverence under ceremonial circumstances.
Detalj "Spetstäcket" nr 2
How long does it take?
The quilts on display here, are the result of a process spanning twenty years. Most of them are very time consuming, growing as large as 80 by 120 inches. They must be allowed to take their time. Or rather, I allow them to usurp my own time, despite my impatience. It´s like raising children: they must be given the time they need. I don´t get restless any more.
It´s like running a faucet. I think in color and form, without being able to stop. I will never be able to finish all the quilts I have in my sketchbook, or in my head.
The technique itself is so simple - you stitch together pieces of fabric. But the possibilities are endless. This unlimited quality offers both an artistic freedom and a challenge. The choices you´re forced to make can be extremely difficult. Some quilts seem to live a life of their own - they spring in to existence and form by their own volition. There is no room for hesitation there. Others require more time and deliberation.
How long does it take? A lot of people ask me about time. No wonder, since time and work manifest in all the tiny patches. However, I rarely know specifically how much time a given quilt has taken required - because, for me, they don´t take as much time as they ultimately give.