The Looms and the Art of Ulrika Leander

Mid-Shore Arts: The Looms and Art of Ulrika Leander

The art world has just a few very special heros who take it upon themselves to work in mediums requiring intense intricacy, precision, and endless patience to complete their work. And nowhere else can one find that special breed stand out more than those who chose the art of tapestry for their artistic expression.

And one can officially include the Mid-Shore’s Ulrika Leander in that select group.

Starting at the age of thirteen in her native Sweden, Ulrika has become one of the great masters of the loom with her intentionally beautiful and large tapestries created in her generous studio a short walk from the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.

Like clockwork, Ulrika works every day in front of one of her three custom-built looms to produce art that is proudly hung in museums and private homes throughout the world. With a typical project taking well over six months to complete, Leander has found a particular zone to operate in as she plots along a single line of fiber during a day’s work.

In her Spy interview a few weeks ago, she talks about this unique, centuries-old practice, and how she enjoys the special challenges that come with the making one-of-a-kind tapestries.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on Ulrika Leander work and studio, please go here.

A beautiful home with an artist’s studio is for sale

FrontImage 6Image 5Image 105592 Poplar Ln, Royal Oak, MD 21662

 3 beds 3 baths 5,217 sqft

For Sale
$749,000
With a superb location next to the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, park, and boat ramp, this spacious home combines a sense of history with an open, contemporary feel. Gourmet eat-in kitchen, hardwood floors, high ceilings, lots of light, plus a 1700 SF artist’s studio and gallery that could be additional living space.

What I love about the home

The property sits on four lots and has a wealth of mature trees, perennial flowerbeds and raised gardens. The large parking lot allows easy storage for boats or recreational vehicles. Located 7 minutes from St. Michaels and 11 minutes from Easton, fine eating and shopping, music, theatre and galleries are just a short drive away. A perfect home, conveniently located for those who love biking, boating, fishing, and walking or simply need a peaceful place to live and work.

Open House

  • 7/17 12pm-2pm

Facts

  • Baths: 2 full, 1 half
  • Lot: 0.69 acres
  • Single Family
  • Built in 1898

Features

  • Cable Ready
  • Double Pane/Storm Windows
  • Fireplace
  • Flooring: Hardwood, Tile
  • Garden
  • Lawn
  • Parking: Carport, 2 spaces
  • Patio
  • Porch
  • Security System

Here is the link to view the tour

 

 

 

Architecture and tapestry

Woven space: Architecture and tapestry

Click to enlarge

<i>Homage to CPE Bach</i>, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House

Homage to CPE Bach, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House Image: John Gollings

An upcoming design competition promises to reinvigorate the connection between architecture and textile art, and hence human experience and the built environment.

There is a long-standing historical connection between architectural space and textile art, and in particular, tapestry. Rare tapestry remnants have been found in Greece dating from the 3rd century BC and the tapestry-laden walls of European museums and palaces are very familiar to us. The longevity of this art form over the centuries makes my 15-year connection with it via the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) pale into insignificance. Time is not the relevant metric, however, when measuring the alchemy that occurs in the creation of tapestry—this is timeless.

Significant wall hangings have been created around the world and used in a myriad of configurations for functional, decorative, celebratory and didactic purposes, with a clear knowing of their ‘other’ underlying capacity to modify thermal and acoustic conditions within interior built space. Tapestries have ranged from monumental formats in great public and private buildings down to small-scale intimate works for personal enjoyment. Often underpinned by great wealth, they have been traded and presented as gifts to leaders for hundreds of years across countries and societies. They show enormous scope, having been used for traditional designs employing historical and mythical themes, to being utilised as a preferred medium by avant-garde architects and artists at the beginnings of the modern movement in Europe.

From their earliest history to the full integration of textiles into the comprehensive design program of the Bauhaus in Germany under Walter Gropius (1919-28) and later under Mies van der Rohe (1930-33), tapestries have been linked intimately with built space and its creation. One only has to think of the great architect Le Corbusier and his integration of textiles with architecture, including his own masterfully self-designed epic tapestries, to understand the significance of placement in architectural space.

William Morris in the 19th century and the contemporary French artist Jean Lurcat paved a way for others to follow, including internationally influential artists such as Picasso, Calder, Leger and Miro, who used the mediums of tapestry and textile as key platforms for their work.


Homage to CPE Bach, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House Image:  John Gollings

A point to note is that the realisation of the two great tapestries for new Parliament House and the Sydney Opera House came via collaboration with the ATW. In fact, most of the ATW tapestries are designed with a specific location in mind, and architectural considerations often have a great effect on the designing artists and the weavers when they create a commissioned work. In our Australian context, the architect and enthusiastic champion of integrated art, Aldo Giurgola of Mitchell Giurgola Thorpe, included the monumental Arthur Boyd tapestry Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape) in the new Parliament House in Canberra. Harry Seidler, European émigré and pioneer Australian modernist architect, included great tapestry works in his local buildings. Jørn Utzon, responsible for the world-acclaimed Sydney Opera House, designed his tapestry Homage to CPE Bach for the Utzon Room in that same building.

Ainsley Murray in her marvelous review of an installation by Sandra Selig at the MCA in 2004 (Artlink magazine vol. 25, #1) wrote perceptively and provocatively about architecture and intervention:

“Architecture has long since surrendered the tactile in favour of grander visions. Processes of digitisation, prefabrication and mechanisation have lead to the widespread abandonment of the human hand in architectural practice, and private eccentricities are now buried, smoothed over with flatter, more uniform design solutions. Recalcitrant fingerprints and other imperfections have dissolved from all but the vernacular and indigenous architecture of Australasia. The question is, how might we reconsider our relationship with built matter to restore a direct connection with human experience? I suspect the clues lie not in architecture, but in contemporary installation.”

An upcoming design competition promoted by the ATW will reinvigorate this connection between architectural built-form and textile art. It will help to build an awareness of tapestry as a relevant medium that sits comfortably within the materiality of contemporary architectural thinking, providing another tool that architects can draw on in response to this increasingly complex and challenging world.

As Ainsley Murray concluded in her article: “Perhaps the handmade in architecture is nothing to do with the physical character of buildings, but entirely to do with how we engage with them in our enlivened and repetitious gestures. Not only is architecture rethought, but the relationship between being and building reconsidered.”

Hear, hear.

Tapestry Art

Tapestry As An Art Form 

 By Ixchel Suarez   

 

When we come across the word tapestry, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably it would be those ancient huge tapestries generally called Gobelins, where the hunting scenes inscribed in the verdures, take our eyes into a deep field or forest. Or maybe we think of the great fantastic European castles with mythological animals like Unicorns or winged lions. Maybe we would go even further back in antiquity, when  Coptic tapestries appeared in several areas of Greece, or we think of the Peruvian lands where plain weaves have been found that date from 1000 BC or even older.

Even though  tapestries were known on the banks of the Nile River almost two thousand years before the Christian era, it is likely that the art had been practiced in other, adjoining civilizations even before then. Tapestries were made in western Asia and Greece and also in Pre-Columbian Peru or Mexico as well as in China during the T’ang period.

 

Since actual textile fragments are rarely preserved, our information about tapestry from those remote times is based largely on written descriptions, paintings or sculptures. Some samples of Egyptian specimen from royal tombs date from 1483 BC. Examples of Chinese tapestries from the 8th century are now in the Taimadera Temple in Japan. Tapestries hanging in the church of St Gereon at Cologne were probably made in that city at the close of the 11th Century. No doubt, these are the oldest examples of tapestry woven in Europe in the early Middle Ages. Tapestries have evolved from diverse techniques of textile forms and shapes. However, the basic structure has remained the same.

As we survey our evidence for the various types of basic weaves thus collected from a wide geographical and temporal expanse, we begin to see some emerging patterns.  emerging. Broadly speaking, the materials used for  weaving  influenced the variety of   application and the structure of the woven article   in the Neolithic and Early Bronze ages. Eventually, these  basic weave structures  begin to influence each other. It is undoubtedly no accident that the difference between loom traditions correlates with the division between the European set of weaves on one hand (from the home of the warp-weighted loom) and the Egyptian and Middle Eastern traditions on the other (in two beam ground-loom territory). It is also no coincidence that this division, while it lasted, correlates with the fact who was and who was not using wool. Everyone was familiar with linen, but for Egypt it was in effect the only major fibre. For other groups, wool became more and more important and eventually eclipsed linen. One of the main reasons for the preferred use of wool was the fact that it was infinitely easier to dye  and the colours were brighter and therefore even more attractive to the eye.

But let’s not get too deep into structural details. The question remains: Was tapestry an art form then? Is it still an art form now? There is a tendency to compare the art of tapestry with the inseparable art of painting. The distance however is considerable, for there is a basic difference between tapestry which is a manual craft, subject (but not exclusively) to a model, and painting, which enjoys complete creative freedom. Tapestry, one might say, loses certain spontaneity, yet other characteristics which distinguish it from painting contribute to its richness and provide it with immense artistic impact.

There was a time when tapestry was a collective art and could be compared to the performance of a symphony. The “composer” was the cartoon painter and the weavers were the “musicians”. And yet, when one transposes a painted cartoon into the woven work, the weaver, who is both artisan AND artist, must call upon the skill of years of training and even  individual personality, to capture every nuance of the tapestry design.

Where, then is the essence or the heart of the weaver when one should follow  a cartoon-project but  on the way  finds the media as the most  expressive language? When,  in the transfiguration, the project becomes one with the artist? What happens to all those inner forces that during the weaving process seem to attack us, make us feel drawn to this or that material for our project? Is it valid to let our explorations run free – – to interpret our feelings, or should we limit the creative process of weaving to suit the cartoon?

As a tapestry weaver and occasional painter for more than 24 years , I can tell you that one of my main design-related challenges in tapestry is precisely this problem: how to define the boundary between the design in the cartoon and the creative weaving process itself. My background as Graphic Designer has taught me how to compose and create my projects; my weaving skills on the other hand, have taught me how to create the flow, how to use  the technique to  make it into a defined idea; my artistic perception of the craft/art have led me to experiment with all the different materials available – – not necessarily following traditional practices. It seems essential to me,  that sometimes, in order to pursue the idea, the weaver  has to sacrifice something  to accomplish a goal.

This is tough to do. As an artist, I am constantly choosing between the original project, the technique and the final vision of my work. To sacrifice one in order to preserve the other is for me the ultimate artistic expression.

During the Middle Ages tapestry was a “useful art”. Hangings adorned the walls of royal and princely residences but also those of churches. Chambers of tapestries were effective insulations against draughts. But the fundamental purpose of tapestry was to cover a large surface and offer the possibility of monumental decorations. However, it was the technique which provided the force of expression and it  set mural tapestry on the level of great art.  That was understood by every well positioned person enamored by beauty, regardless who created the work  or where it originated from. . It is in this period that the greatest series of tapestries made their appearance, whether religious,   pagan, mythological or realistic. The looms of Europe produced innumerable tapestries to celebrate great individual deeds and conquests or to proclaim the teachings of the Church. Thus we see that in every period in time, tapestry was considered a work of sumptuous, expressive and   original art.

During the last century, tapestry lost its role of major importance. Today, after more than a hundred years, thanks to the joint efforts of cartoon painters and weavers, it has once again become an expression of the human spirit.  However, it has also generated a  particularly controversial debate regarding the  division between design, craft and art.  To  clearly define the role between  the painter who visualizes the project and the weaver, who either executes or interprets it, may seem to serve a practical  purpose;  it is also  brutal and somehow rash.  It makes no sense to me to get caught up in trying to establish a “supremacy”  amongst the many people who are involved in the design and production fiber art.  As art,  tapestry becomes the media with which  to explore and develop possibilities; as such, it  is a glorious combination of  aesthetics, concept and technique.

Contemporary fiber art is interesting and vital precisely because it exists in the space between the  rigid and divisive  categories of craft and art. .  Tapestries are no longer classified as either functional/educational or aesthetic, but have become interpretations and expressions of individuals.  As such, they exist on a new plane.      Through these textiles, individuals are able to  demonstrate a balance of design and craft.

While recognizing that an avant-garde approach is always important, there is also a need for good, sober, contemporary work that satisfies the mass of consumer design. Ultimately, it is variety that characterizes the renaissance of tapestry production. I am glad that reviving the art of tapestry is breaking free of  dogmatism.

The contemporary movement is tolerant of all kinds of content. Tapestry has now conquered elements that have fractured previously strict traditional European techniques. A vast universe of textures, colors and sensorial stimulus has made the explorations of new ideas for tapestry projects possible. As such , it straddles the huge  chasm between craft and art.

Tapestry weavers prove with their work that excellent knowledge of the craft of weaving is not enough. One has to be able to express aesthetically what fills the human soul. This has always been at center of the artistic element. Tapestry requires patience. It seems out of sync with the current speed of life, the technological advances and the many forms of rapid communications. Is there no place for such a “slow” and meticulous art as tapestry? Is there no time for infinite patience? My personal refuge is precisely to escape into this kind of “motionless” time. It makes my mind travel to other times and spaces. It makes my body enter into a relaxed state of mind where I can forget about – – but also deal with – – my every- day life stress. I always look forward to the moment when I can sit in front of my frame loom, and enter another dimension on my life.

Tapestry is not only about the craft of weaving, nor is it simply textile artists “doing their thing”. It opens up possibilities of expression and thought. It opens up possibilities to interpret the past and to examine the present. It makes us aware of dogmas and our ability to go beyond .

I wish you weavers many such “woven moments” in your life. Share your intricate feelings with your projects! Tapestry as an art form – – an expression of our innermost self – should never vanish.

Over Dancing Water (2)

 

Wissa Wassef Tapestry

Animals by the Watering Hole, tapestry, 'Ali Salim, 1985. Museum no. ME.1-2008

Animals by the Watering Hole, tapestry, ‘Ali Salim, 1985. Museum no. ME.1-2008

For many European tourists in Egypt a stop at the art centre in Harraniyyah is an essential part of their holiday experience. The centre, which was founded in 1952 by the architect Ramses Wissa Wassef, is now a prominent landmark on the cultural landscape of contemporary Egypt and its artistic products are popular with collectors, museums and galleries around the globe. This article highlights a Harraniyyah tapestry recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum and considers its distinctive history and design aesthetic.

Despite its established reputation today, the art centre evolved from a bold piece of 1950s experimentation. Its founders, Ramses Wissa Wassef, his wife Sophie and her father, the educator Habib Gorgi, held a passionate belief in the inherent creativity of children; a creativity which they considered to be easily stifled by overly-critical parenting and teaching styles. They were also dedicated to the revival of traditional Egyptian crafts techniques such as pottery and weaving which they felt to be under threat from expanding industrialisation. In 1952 the Wassefs and Gorgi purchased a small piece of land outside the village of Harraniyyah, near the pyramids of Gizah, where they built a small studio in a traditional Upper-Egyptian mud-brick style. They selected several local children and provided each with a loom and locally-grown wool. The children were given no training in design skills and were encouraged to visualise their designs rather than make preliminary drawings in order to preserve the ‘freshness’ of their aesthetic vision. For the same reason, the woven portion of a child’s work was kept rolled up so that the weaver wouldn’t be able to see the whole until the textile was complete.

Design inspiration came in the form of day trips, outings and picnics but the children were also encouraged to draw deeply on their imaginations. No criticism was made of their work as developing the children’s confidence was paramount. Slowly, a distinctive style emerged. The most common subjects were aspects of village life and the natural world. Fantastical, imaginary scenes and creatures also featured. These were depicted in bold colour, with wools dyed onsite using natural dyes according to the centre’s emphasis on self-sufficiency.

Most of the committed weavers were female but in 1959 a twelve-year-old boy asked to join the centre. ‘Ali Salim went on to become one of its best-known weavers. The tapestry recently acquired by the V&A was created by Salim. It is dated 1985 and includes the weaver’s signature at the bottom right alongside the initials ‘W.W’ (for Wissa Wassef). On a label on the back, the maker’s name is also given as ‘Korayem Silem’. Typically, the tapestry depicts a scene from the natural world, ‘Animals by the watering hole’, in which elephants wade, baboons play in a tree, lions hunt their quarry (a herd of gazelles) and birds rest in the trees above. Despite its naïve style, the lively animals and the blocks of colour used to depict the trees, plants and natural landscape give the tapestry an energy and dynamism. The weaving technique is characteristic of the art centre’s style which sought to produce ‘woven paintings’ rather than conventional tapestries. Instead of carrying the weft thread across the full width of the loom Salim has used the coloured wool only where it is needed. This has created an uneven tension across the tapestry and a slightly rippled surface.

The donor of the tapestry brought it from a Harraniyyah workshop the same year it was created. Given to the V&A in 2008, ‘Ali Salim’s piece offers a unique contemporary counterpoint to the Museum’s important and extensive collection of Ancient Egyptian woven textiles.

Why Tapestry?

 

‘Before Time” – ( 6 panels) – 80″ x 149″

Designed and hand-woven by Ulrika Leander

Before Time - progress 3

Before Time high res

 

Progress photo of ongoing tapestry commission for a private home in Laguna Beach, CA, “Serenity” – 83″ x 55″

Dick 1 (2)

 

Ctw-tapestry.com

Wall tapestries

Wall tapestries: A popular choice for home décor

Home décor made beautiful!

For millennia people have used wall tapestries and textiles to decorate their homes, from castles to condos. Tapestry wall hangings are one of the most accomplished textile-based art forms and come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds giving them a great diversity of styles.

Some wall tapestries originate from museums and others from artists are licensing their artwork to be made into tapestries. Any subject matter from nature and landscapes to impressionist and modern art can be used to create a tapestry. These add an entirely unique dimension to this traditional form of art.

Traditional materials with a modern twist

Traditional tapestries, particularly Medieval era tapestries, were made from wool. This provided a strong basis for adding dyes and pigments and had the added benefit of being hardwearing and easily available. Over time other yarns have been added to the mix, but the basic principle of natural materials has remained with tapestry weaving, using traditional materials and weaving techniques. Wool tapestries when mixed with synthetic polymers have the distinct advantage of preserving the traditional warmth of wool tapestries, but add a long-lasting robustness that would have made them the envy of medieval weavers.

The very best quality modern wall tapestries make the most of this blend of old and new, using new improved fibers to reproduce classical art and famous tapestry art from the past. With the improvements made to pigments and dyes in the last century we can now easily buy faithful reproductions of centuries-old tapestry designs; unseen in such vibrant colors since the time they were originally designed.

Solve decorating challenges

Like any form of high quality art tapestries can open a window to the past, expand living space both emotionally and visually, create the basis for a theme, add color and give your living space individuality, personality and charm. Decorating with tapestries adds beauty, warmth and character.

Choosing a horizontal tapestry will help add length to a room or try opening a space by choosing a tapestry with doorways and windows. These types of tapestries give an illusion of added space by leading the eye of the viewer outward. If your room is large and cold, scale it down by hanging a series of smaller tapestries together. This creates the illusion of a smaller space and can bring a large, blank wall down in size. Hanging small tapestries together will also add warmth to your room.

Wall tapestries – rich in history

Wall tapestries, often rich in history, can transport us to another time and place. They encourage reflective and tranquil moments, enlighten the human spirit and are great subjects of conversation. They also add charm and coziness to our homes and are balm for the soul. All of these qualities have made wall tapestries a popular choice amongst art lovers for centuries. Today with modern textiles and fabrics and centuries of tradition, art and design behind them many are finding wall tapestries as charming, versatile and beautiful as ever.

Swift Silvertails Passing

FRAMES OF REFERENCE