Kari Steihaug collects woollen garments and unfinished knitting projects. She finds her themes in the work of hands and lives lived, history and memory, the private and the collective. The installation at Fiberspace Gallery, The Seamstress in Trastevere consists of a knitted image, a film, sound, yarn, woollen garments that unravel, and are patched and repaired.
«Rome diary, February 2010: Walking past the Seamstress in Trastevere and her embroideries. They brighten the grey cement wall. She sits in rapt concentration, small stitches on light even-weave. Rapid steps on cobblestones, and I have a whole month here at Circolo Scandinavio. She reminds me of the seamstress in a painting by Helene Scherfbeck, or Vermeer’s lace-maker. She’s in the state of mind I myself seek: concentration and flow in time. But most of all she’s in hard reality. She’s the one I see in all cities, on many street corners, in all types of weather. Some knit or sew, play music or polish shoes. Some just sit. Every day.»
Visual artist, based in textile.
WHAT DOES FIBER MEAN TO YOU?
Fiber is like a carrier of memories, my other skin, a border between you and me, between private and public. It is everyday life and new beginnings, it follow us through night and day from birth to death.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FIBER OR TEXTILE TECHNIQUE?
Woolen threads and woollen clothes are my material and starting points. I unravel old knitted clothes, or parts of them, and continue in the wavy traces of the stitches that aren´t easily washed away. I knit them into my installations and stories.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST VIVID TEXTILE MEMORY?
When I cleared the attic because I was moving, it was 1998 and I found my own unfinished knitting projects from the 80´s. I remembered something forgotten. The stories were embedded in small beginnings and unfinished garments, and the memories sat in my body. I started to collect, and now 20 years later Archive: The Unfinished Ones, contains of 195 unfinished knittings and the stories behind. People I met through exhibitions, lectures and radio inquiry, from Norway, Sweden, the US, and Netherland, have shared their stories with me. The archive is now owned by the Nationale Museum of art in Oslo.
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