It’s flattering to receive inquiries about tapestries because of my long interest in Norwegian billedvev, and more recently, because of my infatuation with and study of the work of Frida Hansen. And I get all sorts of Scandinavian weaving questions because of my blog and the Norwegian Textile Letter. Sometimes I can help, but often my response is, “I don’t know, but let me ask my smart friends.” My fellow members of our Weavers Guild of Minnesota Scandinavian Weavers Study Group, and my friends in this country and in Scandinavia have all been key.
Joyce Ketcham was referred to me when another tapestry weaver felt her mystery tapestry might have connections to Norwegian billedvev. She wrote:
The Art Committee at Brookhaven at Lexington (MA) was given an unusual tapestry. It came with no provenance. The only information the donor could offer was that it was purchased at an auction in Vermont or New Hampshire about 20 years ago. Are you aware of or seen any similar tapestry? Does the weaving technique used show a similarity to the Norwegian Billedevev tradition? Any information would be greatly appreciated. It is 9 feet x 6 feet, is lined and has brass rings, every nine inches, at the top for hanging. The plastic rings were a later addition and have been removed.
“What a wonderful tapestry. It would be so fun to stand in front of the large assembled woven audience and examine all of the figures. Do you think the designer thought, “How many ways could I depict breasts?”
“I don’t recognize the artist. If you were looking for similarities to Norwegian billedvev, you could say that this tapestry is densely patterned, like historical billedvev weavings. Certainly it could have been woven by a Norwegian or Scandinavian artist, but I don’t think there are enough clues in the design to feel that is likely. Now, if all the yarn ends were woven in on the back side, that would be a good indication of a Norwegian weaving, but I’m guessing this one does not have the ends woven in.”
Joyce agreed that the designer had a quirky sense of humor. She also wrote, “The tapestry hangs outside the performing art center so lots for people to look at during the intermissions.” It’s perfect, an audience looking at an audience. She can’t check for the tiny chance that the ends are woven in on the tapestry, as they don’t want to disturb the lining.
Friends–does anyone recognize this tapestry?