At the start of this year I saw a post pop up on Hannah Waldron's Instagram page that sounded too tempting to ignore - it was January, the days were short and the skies were grey and I was looking for something that I could book onto later in the year to look forward to. Not a holiday as such, I really wanted to go somewhere with a purpose and at this point didn't know I'd be back in Helsinki so much, so I signed up to the Contemporary Tapestry Course at Säterglänten with Hannah without much further thought....and I'm so glad I did!
One of Hannah's Map Tapestries, image copyright of Hannah Waldron
For those of you that might not be familiar with Hannah's work I urge you to check it out. She creates beautiful handmade tapestries inspired by storytelling using a range of techniques in beautiful kaleidoscopes of colours. Each one is a narrative in it's own right and demonstrates Hannah's incredible skills in shape, colour, pattern and weaving.
It was amazing to spend a week being taught by Hannah (she is an incredibly patient and encouraging teacher) but also the location made it that extra bit special.
Looking down the hill to the main building at Säterglänten
I'd never heard of Säterglänten before Hannah's post, but it is quite famous in Sweden amongst the craft community I found out. I'm not surprised. Tucked up a small hill in the Dalarna region about three hours north-west of Stockholm by train, it is located in the most picturesque Swedish countryside. The weather was being incredibly kind to us throughout, but even if it had been pouring down, the peacefulness and beauty of the place would still have shone through I'm sure.
My red warp ready to go
Learning to weave was an interesting process. I never studied textiles, so missed out on those rotation experiences that other textile designers might have had at art school before choosing on their specialism. I really wanted to have greater skills in this area as I've been spending so much time in Finland researching täkänäs, that it felt like the time had come for me to learn to make instead of just focusing on research.
My first ever warp and the beginnings of experimenting with different techniques
As well as gaining a new knowledge of weaving basics and different techniques, it was also the fact that I had a whole week of silence from other aspects of my work that made it so special. The studio is often so frantic with multiple projects/deadlines etc on that I think I'd forgotten what it felt like to just focus on one thing for seven full days. It felt like such a gift to turn my brain off from those other things (although I admit I was emailing people work related questions during some evenings) but mostly I tried to keep immersed in the process of weaving, the place I was in and the new people I had met.
A section of my 'final' weaving (I definitely saw it more as a work in progress!)
I learnt so much during the seven day course and I'm really excited to use these skills in new developments in my creative practice over the coming months. I believe Hannah is running the same course next year and I can highly recommend it! The food is also included in the package and was just as amazing as the rest of the experience! I might even book it again.....