Books and Modern


Overseas > Oslo > August,2014

Mail from Oslo Vol.1
The Encounter with Japan, Journey and Stories of My Works

text by Inger Johanne Rasumssen photo by Torgny Skogsrud

The tapestry ”An Attempt to construct a Flower”

The tapestry ”An Attempt to construct a Flower”

My cooperation with Hiroko Wakai  started more than six years ago. She had been visiting Norway as a journalist, and in the museum for applied art in Oslo she had bought a catalogue showing some of my works. All by herself, without any support from neither a gallery nor another insitution, she decided to introduce my work to the Japanese audience by translating and publishing my catalogue there.

She had already negociated with the publisher Seigensa and had arranged a publishing agreement when I surprisingly received a mail from her, whereafter I gave my permittance to publish.

This became the beginning of a cooperation which didn´t lead to a new edition of my catalogue, but a brand new book! Hiroko and the photographer Kioshi Sakasai came to Oslo. They visited my exhibition, my home and my studio. They witnessed demonstrations of my techniques, we talked a lot, and  got to know eachother.

Then, a couple of years later, also this time on the initiative from Hiroko, I got an invitation to make a solo exhibition in the Spiral Garden Gallery.  Again, she put a lot of effort in the plannning and organization of the financial matters and events.

The exhibition was held during the winter of 2012 and with Hiroko as the curator. From a Norwegian point of view, Hiroko is an outstandingly initiative and determined woman. As Norwegian myself, I wonder if most Japanese women are like her, or if she is just special. (I think she is special).

My works are textile works made in an intarsia technique I invented and developed myself. The images are puzzled from hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pieces cut out from felted wool, and hand dyed in various nuances.

The pieces are put onto vliseline and sewn to the work by hand. My motifs are almost without exceptions based on traditional patterns. These patterns are being enlarged, changed, colored, deconstructed, new elements are added and moved, so that new thoughts and stories may be free to occur.

Old textiles inspire me, and my journey to Japan was a journey to a chest of treasure. For many years I have been aware of the rich and beautiful fibre art tradition in Japan. In my opinion it is the finest and most interesting textile culture of the world. To experience the textile for real, close up in museums, shops and on the street, not only from books, was a dream to come true. I think a lot of people can identify a Japanese inspiration in my artistic works.

Diary 5 June 2014:

My life are a bit too busy these days. An artist needs some spare time to think, play, investigate, discard and maybe sleep and dream a bit. Under such conditions new ideas can bloom. Now I am forced to be effective. I have two exhibitons to come; one festival exhibiton in Alsace in France in September, then a solo exhibiton in a huge gallery in Telemark end of the upcoming January. Telemark is a beautiful Norwegian valley carrying a really nice and rich textile tradition. The folk costumes are particularly adorned in colours and patterns. Some of this beauty I tend to quote in my work.

I am fortunate to have a large amount of commisions for public buildings. Yesterday I flew to the western coast of Norway, the city of Haugesund,  to inspect a new assignment; an entrance area in a rehab clinic for addicts. I spent a lot of time in dialogue with the staff and met some of the pasients. People going through extremely challenging months of their lives are living here. I want the art to present something that they can experience in a good way, to give them a meaningful encounter with a building.

Hiroko invited me to blog every now and then. In a while, I will tell about which solution I chose to this challenge.

A week ago, another institution, a large clinic for health care some distance south of Oslo, decided to buy one of my tapestries for their entrance, organized as a cafe and reception in their big and diverse building. Many elderly people live here. The committee chose the tapestry An Attempt to construct a Flower, but they spontanously decided to order two new, smaller tapestries to be mounted nearby. My challenge is how to continue the theme from the big tapestry.

These will be produced this autumn. In my next report I will tell about my studio in a small, beautiful island in the Oslo fjord, and about the Norse goddesses spinning the human thread of destiny, and hopefully I can show you how I solved the challenges in my work.

On the web:

To read and see the folk costumes from Telemark, make a google photo search on: telemarksbunad

 Inger Johanne Rasmussen (textile artist)
Born in Kristiansand 1958. Textile artist. She has held 15 individual exhibitions (separatutstllinger), i.a. in Hordaland Kunstnersenter (ArtsCenter), Sorlandets Kunstmuseum (Art Museum), Kunstneforbundet (Amalgamated Artists Gallery) in Oslo, Spiral Garden Gallery in Tokyo. 22 purchases to museum and embassies. 38 public commissions. Studio workshop on Hovedoya island in Oslo Bay. Author of two text books on weaving.

I can look at the work production scenery here.