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Aino Kajaniemi, Lapsuusmuisto 2, 2019

The Woven Image – Modern Finnish Tapestry

Exhibition in Craft Museum of Finland 4.1.-30.8.2020

Events connected to the exhibition

The Woven Image – seminar
Sat 11.1.2020, 11.30 a.m. to 4.15 p.m.

The seminar dives into the world of Finnish textile art through the artists of The Woven Image exhibition and the colour schemes of Sirkka Könönen. Binding registrations online by 3.1.2020.
The cost of the seminar is 20 euros. Free cancellation by 8.1.2020.

The opening of The Woven Image exhibition
 Sat 11.1.2020, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Lobby Gallery’s Colourer of the World – Textile Artist Sirkka Könönen exhibition is opening at the same time.

Artist meet up
Fri 6.3.20204 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Artist meet up of textile artist Aino Kajaniemi in connection with the International Women’s Day pre-party (Naisten päivän etkot). Free admissions.

The joint exhibition of four famous Finnish textile artists Ariadna Donner, Soile Hovila, Aino Kajaniemi and Inka Kivalo in Craft Museum of Finland 4.1.-17.5.2020 brings out the variety of modern tapestries beautifully. The tapestries in the exhibition represent different techniques, approaches and styles according to their artists. Kajaniemi and Donner sketch their drafts with pencils, Hovila takes advantage of photos as the basis for her coloured sketching and Kivalo begins her work with a colourful watercolour painting.

- I think by looking and making with my hands. My use of materials is physical, I weave and manipulate the surface, darn and patch. Weave is the theme of my doing, Kivalo describes her work.

Four perspectives of the modern Finnish tapestry

Tapestries or gobelins are textiles that are hung on walls, they are also called wall rugs. Nowadays they are often made mechanically, but Donner, Kajaniemi, Kivalo and Hovila weave their gobelins using a loom utilising an ancient technique. The exhibition is therefore an homage to Finnish modern gobelin as well. The tradition goes back to the early 20th century and the World Fair in Paris. The earliest Finnish tapestries are from the masters of the golden era such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Hugo Simberg. The Woven Picture exhibition is unique therefore that despite the long tradition of weaving, there has not been a joint exhibition of Finnish tapestry artists in our country before. 

The Woven Picture – Four perspectives of the modern Finnish tapestry exhibition’s gobelins are all distinct from one another. Hovila and Kajaniemi’s pieces are representational, Kivalo’s tapestries have abstract colour schemes and Donner’s are structural and ornamental arrangements.

- I weave pictures with the tapestry technique where a person is in the middle of life’s complexity and stratification, as well as conflicts and contradictions, Kajaniemi says.

Donner starts by drawing a black and white arrangement on paper.
- As it transfers into the weave, the arrangement transforms depending on what I’m feeling and what is going on in my surroundings, Donner says.

Big, sociological subjects can be handled in the form of tapestries as well, like Hovila does.
- In my series of tapestries, I take a stand against desertification and the war and displacement caused by it. There is always a tree in my pictorial account, like a great oak, the world tree of Kalevala that was necessary to log, Hovila says.

The artists of the exhibition

Ariadna Donner
Textile artist Ariadna Donner designed printed fabrics first and did graphic design from illustrations to animations. Donner makes her tapestries with a vertical loom, so the weaving starts from the bottom edge and happens on the reverse. This demands a special talent of perceiving the entirety of the work and bothering to do the finishing touches. It can take up to 6-9 months to finish one work. Donner keeps a journal while she’s weaving the tapestries. The thoughts from the journal slowly transfer to a pictorial account into the weave. This way of working gives Ariadna ideas, like she’s talking to another person, although that other person is her as well.

Soile Hovila
Soile Hovila weaves with a vertical loom row by row, on the reverse and often sideways from the picture as well. Although Hovila sketches her pieces combining photos in small scale, the final expressionist choices are made with materials and as the weave progresses, because weaving on the reverse part of the piece is based on pure intuition. Slow execution gives time to think about the content of the work. Hovila weaves nature themes which have the characteristics of soft, muted colours that are created by joining thin wool, linen, and cotton yarns together.

Inka Kivalo
Inka Kivalo became a textile artist because in her mind colours glow softer in textiles. Kivalo’s over a 100-year-old loom, carved from a spruce root is like an instrument that she uses to make life more beautiful yarn by yarn. Using the old, archaic technique is an artistic choice for Kivalo. She darns, patches and appliqués the surface of the simple structure, manipulating the weave to make the finished product deceitfully spontaneous. Inka Kivalo received the Fokus Foundation’s Nordic Award in Textiles in 2019.

Aino Kajaniemi
Student of yarns and drawing for over 40 years, Aino Kajaniemi creates a natural size pencil drawing before every tapestry. As she weaves, she follows these lines and chooses the tones and material fitting for them. She purchases nearly all of her weaving yarns from flea markets, which makes a yarn stash full of surprises. Only after transforming into tapestries, do the lines of Kajaniemi’s drawings get a breath of life and depth to the surfaces. Kajaniemi weaves pictures where a person is in the middle of life’s complexity and stratification. Textile as a material bring the softness and optimism into the tapestries.


More information about the exhibition

Mikko Oikari, senior curator, the Craft Museum of Finland
tel. +358 50 553 3880, mikko.oikari [at]

Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö on myöntänyt tälle näyttelylle erityisavustuksen taiteilijoille maksettavien näyttelypalkkioiden kattamiseen.