Friday, April 30, 2021

documentation of a creative education


i visited a friend this afternoon. she's a lovely woman in her 70s who taught textiles and all sorts of handiwork at a danish højskole for many years. she's the one who finds all kinds of looms and spinning wheels and such for me because she works at the local red cross secondhand store. she also has friends who have such things and they have reached an age where they want to get rid of them. 

we hadn't seen one another in a very long time thanks to corona, but we decided to have coffee and the season's first rhubarb cake today. it's the big prayer day and so i had a much-needed day off. i love her home - it's so inviting and everywhere, there's something quirky, interesting and most likely handmade. even the old dried up oranges in a little wood bowl next to some dried out mushrooms in the kitchen windowsill are beautiful. it's how i want my home to be. something interesting at every turn. 

she mentioned the other day that she had all of her old projects from when she went to textile design school back in the late 60s. and she wondered if maybe we in creagive, our local creative group, would want to use it to do collage or something. so she took me upstairs and she got out all these big folios from where they were stored. we sat down on the floor, opened them all up and went through them together. 

as we flipped through pages and pages of different pattern designs and fabric prints and sketches of things to weave, she told me stories. of teachers, of materials, of travels, of sources of inspiration, of the way that colors or patterns had fascinated her. i am kicking myself for not recording her stories. 

she insisted that i take all this treasure home with me - 5 big folios and several notebooks. i feel so inspired by it and i will take some of it along on our creagive trip to højer in the autumn. emmy might even come along as well and she can tell us stories. 

but i intend to go through it all carefully and photograph some of it and perhaps even work with some of it. there's a whole binder of different printed fabric samples that would make an amazing quilt. and there are some beautiful machine-stitched patterns that deserve to be framed (it's those in the photos on this post). 

husband looked through some of it with me after dinner and he was just as in awe of it as i am. she worked so thoroughly with various patterns, exploring colors and all the options. i wonder if any education today does this so thoroughly as they did back then. 

she started her education at what would later become kolding design school in 1967, the year that i was born. and all of the things she worked with seem so timeless and fresh, even today. i can't believe she didn't go on to work for merimekko or some other scandinavian design firm. even just the samples are just beautiful. 


i kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to be rid of it and sure that her family wouldn't want it. she assured me they wouldn't and that she was ready to let it go. i feel so privileged that she wanted me to have this. i feel entrusted with something special and amazing. it's the tracing of a person's creative development and a huge insight into a creative mind, as well as a glimpse of an education and a time that is surely gone. i can't imagine anyone going to such depths today. it feels like everyone wants to take shortcuts and rush as quickly to something commercial as can be.

and it was also clear in some of the assignments (because she kept those too), that they were being asked to think in a commercial way as well. one assignment was to create a fabric pattern that would work equally well for women or men. 

my friend wants our creative group to use all of this as materials for collage and some of it can definitely be that, but i think quite a lot of is far too good for that. i already feel inspired by the way she worked with patterns and techniques. for example, these sewing machine embroidered pieces can be found in sketch form and then a more complete drawing that was framed by passe partout and then in its final form, stitched with the sewing machine on fabric, also in a passe partout frame. 

so much of the work is signed and dated and we will definitely be framing some of the pieces. husband thinks we should go through it all, decide what we'd like to keep and then pay her for it. i fear she will refuse, but i think we should insist. i may have to invite her over tomorrow or sunday to go through it all again and to tell me more stories about it, which this time, i will record. it would be so cool to do some work inspired by her work and then create an exhibition - a kind of dialogue across 50 years. 

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Wow ... can I say wow again. By what I see and what you write you got yourself something totally fabulous, Julie. Please record as much of her story as your can and share because this is a once in a lifetime "inheritance" you got yourself. You are the steward now, please treasure it!