In Good Hands 12.9.–5.12.2020
What does the past of handicrafts look like in the eyes of modern designers, and what kind of inspiration can be drawn from the collection at the museum? The designers invited to the In Good Hands exhibition have had the chance to explore the extensive archives, founded in 1879, of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft at the Design Museum. After this they have created their works in dialogue with the archive materials.
Based on the archives, visual artist Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen, fashion designer Henna Lampinen, sculptor Matias Liimatainen, and game designer Henri Tervapuro created new works and products that combine traditional handicraft techniques, various materials, and technology. The exhibition was on display at the Design Museum from early 2020, and will move to the Craft Museum of Finland in Jyväskylä between September 12 – December 5, 2020. The artists of the Jyväskylä exhibition are joined by illustrator and designer Anna Alanko, who designed her pieces for the exhibition after examining the Friends of Finnish Handicraft swatches stored in the Craft Museum of Finland collection.
As one of Finland’s oldest design companies, the original aim of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft was to collect popular textiles, come up with new applications for their designs, and to bring to life forgotten textile traditions. The Design Museum archives comprise ca. 6,500 textile samples, watercolour sketches, and wovens from the late 19th century to the 1990’s. Parts of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archives are also stored in the Craft Museum of Finland collections.
The In Good Hands exhibition will also showcase some of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft's best-known rya rug designs, such as the Akseli Gallen-Kallela -designed rya rug Liekki (Flame), Jarl Eklund’s Lokki (Seagull) rya rug, and rya rugs by Impi Sotavalta. In addition, collector Tuomas Sopanen will lend the Vihreä aamu (Green Morning) rya rug by Uhra Simberg-Ehrström to the exhibition.
The works of illustrator and designer Anna Alanko from Helsinki are characterised by dreamlike atmospheres and rich textures. In her work, Alanko daringly combines different techniques and plays with organic and digital contrasts. Alanko has designed patterns for Nordic and Japanese clothing and textile companies, such as VIMMA, Tiger of Sweden, Svensson, Borås Tapeter, Isetan, and Senshukai.
”In my pieces for the In Good Hands exhibition, I wished to underline the role and hand of anonymous contributors, the physical movement behind the embroidered patterns, and the meditative process related to working with one’s hands”, Alanko explains the underlying idea of her work. ”The key visual element in my pieces is the graphical line/thread in its various forms. In the animations, the line lives, squirms, grows, and shrinks in hypnotic movements. In the three-dimensional piece, the different line elements are layered and distorted when you examine them from different angles.”
The exhibition’s curators are artist and reseacher Riikka Latva-Somppi and Kieran Long, director for ArkDes, Sweden's National Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm.
”People often say that handicraft skills are based on silent knowledge. Knowledge that is experiential and bodily, yet hard to verbalise. The Friends of Finnish Handicraft archives are not only a historical, visual, and material treasure trove, but also a concrete register of silent knowledge. In the material and digital works of the exhibition, the traditional handicraft properties of craftsmanship, usability, and decorativeness are complemented by narrative and experiment”, states Latva-Somppi.
Master of Fine Arts Amanda Hakoköngäs works as the coordinator for the exhibition.
The In Good Hands exhibition will continue from Jyväskylä to Vaasa in early 2021.
Designer Anna Alanko
Anna Alanko (born 1987) is an illustrator and designer whose work is characterised by dreamlike atmospheres and rich textures. In her work, Alanko daringly combines different techniques and plays with organic and digital contrasts. The starting point for the exhibition pieces was the Friends of Finnish Handicraft's textile samples from the Craft Museum of Finland collection. As the swatches are anonymous and not centred on specific artists, the works emphasise the role and hand of anonymous contributors, the physical movement behind the embroidered patterns, and the meditative process related to working with one’s hands. In her work, Alanko combines various techniques from digital 3D illustration, animation, and laser cutting to hand-painting and embroidery.
Visual artist Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen
The production of visual artist and researcher Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen (born 1976) is rife with reference to Art Nouveau and Asian aesthetics. Her works are typically lavishly decorative and filled with romantic yearning for nostalgia. The Lokki and Liekki rya rugs found in the Design Museum collection, as well as old photographs, sketches, and rya rug designs in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archives, have provided inspiration for the exhibited works. The works in the form of an installation are in dialogue with the old objects, creating an impression of times past and days long forgotten. Korolainen provides the viewer with an opportunity to glimpse an imaginary past that feels both strange and familiar at the same time.
Clothing designer Henna Lampinen
Clothing designer Henna Lampinen’s (born 1991) work is characterised by materials-centric aspects and a handicraft-like work method, combined with an experimental expression of form. Historical topics are often blended with today’s reality. In 2019, Lampinen won the Designers’ Nest Award at the Copenhagen Fashion Week. In her collection at the exhibition, novel techniques such as laser cutting and digital printing are combined with more traditional techniques such as hand sewing and tufting. The idiom of Lampinen’s clothing line was inspired by the era in which the Friends of Finnish Handicraft was founded - the late 19th century.
Sculptor Matias Liimatainen
Matias Liimatainen (born 1989) is a sculptor working with ceramics, glass, and wood. Liimatainen was particularly intrigued by the woven upholstery fabric swatches and their structures found in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archived materials. In his new works, the textile’s texture and surface structure is transformed into a three-dimensional surface accentuated by small ceramic parts. In addition to the swatches, the works by Liimatainen originate from artists’ sketches where serene colours blending into one another are repeated in the exhibition’s ceramic pieces.
Game designer Henri Tervapuro
Henri Tervapuro (born 1986) is a game designer and graphic artist with several published comics albums under his belt. In the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archive materials, Tervapuro became especially interested in the textile models of Impi Sotavalla, whose patterns reminded him of the visuality of older games. The archives’ textile models, swatches, sketches, and photos brought back childhood memories. The textiles reminded Tervapuro of how, as a child, he used to play with the patterns of his grandmother’s wall rugs and rugs on the floor.
In Good Hands
Exhibition at the Craft Museum of Finland September 12 – December 5, 2020
Plenty of more information about the exhibition, collections and artists in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft's publication In Good Hands ingoodhands.fi