Editor’s Note, and Some Tapestries to Visit in Norway

This post brings apologies from your editor.  Completing an interim position at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota plus other consultant work, and then family obligations, stalled the rewarding job of publishing the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter.  However, there was one saving grace – the money I earned is earmarked for a trip to Norway in August. (Plus it was a fabulous experience.)

The keynote article of this issue, “Petrine’s Quilt: A Remembrance from America,” will please mystery fans, as Katherine Larson follows the threads of a story about a crazy quilt acquired by a northern Norway museum and the immigrant woman who stitched her family names.  Follow along with Kay in her quest (and be inspired to document some of your own significant textiles, to help those in future generations).

As evidence of the continuing passion for rya in Minnesota,  “Rya – The Adventure Continues!” describes Jan Mostrom’s most recent rya class offered at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.  This time the featured technique was weaving a rya with hidden knots on a base of houndstooth, inspired from an artifact from the from Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.  The students in Jan’s class came up with very creative pieces.

rya21-225x300Also, you might be interested in reading about a student from Jan Mostrom’s rya class last summer, who turned into a teacher for her friend with Sami background.  Read: “Rya Exploration: A Class, A Student, a Student Teacher” on the Weavers Guild of Minnesota website.

A detail from Annika Ekdahl's "Follow Me" Facebook site

A detail from Annika Ekdahl’s “Follow Me” Facebook site

Though my summer trip to Norway will be mainly to show the beauty of the country to my husband  who has never visited, it will include two important textile detours.  First, Swedish tapestry artist Annika Ekdahl recently finished two large tapestries on display at the Andrea Arntzen’s Hus at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.  Amazing!  I’ve been following the progress of the tapestries on the Facebook site she created to mark the progress.  It’s worth reading through all of the posts she wrote during this epic weaving project.  Also, watch this video.

"Høisommer," (High Summer), one of four tapestries deposited in the Stavanger Art Museum by SpareBank.

“Høisommer,” (High Summer), one of four tapestries deposited in the Stavanger Art Museum by SpareBank.

Second, this summer a retrospective of Frida Hansen’s tapestries will be shown at the Stavanger Art Museum. There was an interesting article in the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenbladet, “Nå skal Frida Hansen hedres” (Now Frida Hansen will be Honored).  You should follow the link to see the accompanying photos, but I’ve translated the text below.  I think it would be amazing if a Norwegian Textile Letter reader actually turned up a missing Frida Hansen tapestry!  Have you seen one?

Next year Stavanger and Rogaland’s most internationally-recognized artist will be celebrated with a major exhibition in Stavanger’s art museum.  The textile artist Frida Hansen had her international breakthrough at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900, where she received the Gold Medal.

Her textile works were purchased by several arts and crafts museums in Europe, for which the Stavanger Art Museum can be thankful today.  Many of the works in the upcoming exhibit are borrowed from these museums in Norway and Europe.  Our regional art museum owns none of her works, but has deposited four pieces that the Norwegian SpareBank purchased.

Where are they now?

Several important weavings by Frida Hansen have disappeared, some in Europe and the United States, and some in Norway, maybe even in Stavanger.  And there may be others, unknown works by her hanging in private homes, notes Inger M. Gudmonson, the conservator with Stavanger Art Museum and one of the two curators for the upcoming exhibition.  “De Fem Kloge or de Fem Daarlige Jomfruer” (“The Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins”) is one of the works that everyone thought has disappeared, but which perhaps still exists somewhere.  The weaving is dated 1900 and was displayed at the World’s Fair in Paris.  It was also displayed in Glasgow, Florence and Stocklholm.  It was sold in Florence, but disappeared during the First World War.

“Sørover” (“Southward”) from 1903 was exhibited several places in the United States, and was purchased by Mrs. Berthe Aske-Bergh.  The current owner is unknown.  “Svinedrengen” (“The Swineherd”) was accepted by the salon in Paris in 1909, and sold from an exhibition in Berlin the year after.  “Frieriet” (“The Wooing”) was displayed and sold in Oslo in 1903; it’s owner is unknown.


Frida Hansen dreamed of becoming an artist, but had to drop her plans when she married the wealthy Wilhelm Severin Hansen.  When her husband went bankrupt they lost two large businesses and a model farm in Hillevåg.  Not long after Frida Hansen began an embroidery business in Stavanger and discovered old Norwegian coverlets.  In 1892, nine years after the big collapse, the family moved to Kristiania (Oslo) and Frida Hansen established a weaving and dyeing business in Tullinløkka. She had many employees, but participated in the operations.  She patented the techniques she developed.

Forgotten for many years

Frida Hansen was famous and successful as a textile artist, but was more or less forgotten until the 1970s. Gudmonson believes this was because interest in Art Noveau died out.  Frida Hansen’s work places her in the direction that was popular around 1900.  But not long after her work was considered both tasteless and excessive for years.  When interest in Art Nouveau revived around 1950-60, so did interest in Frida Hansen’s works.

Another reason for a lack of interest in Frida Hansen, Gudmonsen explained, was that she was too internationally-oriented.  Norwegian arts and crafts museums preferred works that referenced Norse mythology or Norwegian folk tales.  Therefore they chose Gerhard Munthe and not Frida Hansen.

Art Historian Anniken Thue is the advisor for the two curators who are working with the upcoming exhibition at the Stavanger Art Museum.  She wrote a book on Frida Hansen in 1986, building on her master’s thesis in 1973.

This year the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (Kunstindustrimuseet)  in Oslo created a traveling exhibit, shown also at the Stavanger Kunstforening and the Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum i Bergen.  It had been over one hundred years since Frida Hansen’s art was displayed in a large exhibit in Norway.


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