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Signe Emdal unveils a ‘Fantasia’ woven with threads at Galerie Maria Wettergren
Signe Emdal’s ‘Fantasia,’ 2023. Made using Icelandic wool, merino wool, Italian mohair, Shetland wool, Swedish cotton warp
Image: Kristine Funch, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Maria Wettergren

Signe Emdal unveils a ‘Fantasia’ woven with threads at Galerie Maria Wettergren

The Denmark-based artist utilises her unique method of hand weaving to craft textile sculptures that are emulative of variegated sceneries. 

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Oct 24, 2023

Danish artist Signe Emdal refers to herself as a textile composer. She is a textile artist who emulates the prismatic etchings she witnesses around her, into fabric sculptures that are defined by their soft and intricate detailing. She often carries a vintage analogue camera to capture interesting visual frames during her travels which eventually find their way into her work. Some of Emdal’s textile sculptures, inspired from these scenes, are currently on view at Galerie Maria Wettergren in Paris, France, as part of the artist’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Maria Wettergren. On view until November 25, 2023, the art exhibition, entitled Fantasia, takes its name form one of Emdal’s large-scale installations. Perhaps one of the most interesting ways to enter Emdal’s work is through an excerpt from her poetry which describing her process and inspiration and reads thus:

Infinite numbers of threads,
are weaving us together,
in a timeless tapestry of lived life, lived spirits, lived dreams and lived family lines.

My future connective threads are the physical result of lived life in togetherness.
My delicate structures come alive in good company.
May it be humans, landscapes, horizons, sounds, feelings, animals, stories, music, plants or magical spirits.

This is how I mediate.

My creation of space.
My creation of worlds to mediate inside of.
For myself, or for others.

I mediate with the loom.


Emdal, who resides in Copenhagen, Denmark, graduated from the Kolding School of Design with a masters in Jacquard knitting techniques and conceptual textile structures. Some practices that the artist has explored over the years include hand-woven textiles, digital textile art, art tapestries and fashion textiles, among others. Having experimented with both the analogue and digital versions of this craft for fifteen years, Emdal has managed to build a body of work and an oeuvre that remits typical classification of textile art. Her work not only assembles emotions and ambiences into tangible artworks, but also depicts inspiration sought from ancient textiles, art history, historical studies, feminism, the nomadic journey and evolution of textiles across different locations and cultures. Referring to her method of creation as the ‘Fusion Technique’ and ‘Touch Technique,’ the artist weaves Icelandic wool using the carpet knot technique and a unique brushing which transforms the fibre layers into fluffy components, which are multicoloured and lightweight.

“Influenced by nature and textile traditions of the past, yet with a strong futuristic appearance, her works evoke hybrid aesthetics and timeframes, offering widespread associations, such as animal furs, butterflies, ceremonial artefacts and luscious parures. Sensitive and sensual, the wool sculptures vibrate with the slightest air and seem almost alive, like creatures from outer space, or exotic species from the deep sea - another great inspiration to the artist, besides science fiction and music. Signe is spiritually and intellectually nourished by culturally rich places, and she considers the Fantasia exhibition as a long line of connective past and future threads, where movement and changes of scenery have had a great impact on her and her artworks,” the Parisian gallery shares.

Signe Emdal’s ‘Mother of Fire,’ on display at the gallery was created by the artist in Majorca, during an artist residency at Casa Balandra. For this piece, Emdal studied the local Ikat tradition and visited several textile factories that housed 100-year-old looms. In Majorca, the Ikat technique, named Fabric of Flames, is interpreted as a pattern that depicts flames or fire in the colours of white and blue, with an infusion of yellow and orange tinges. Emdal, who would spend her nights during the residency meeting with other artists in front of the fireplace, was inspired by the classical element and its symbolism as the ‘heart of a household,’ to create ‘Mother of Fire.’ She poetically expresses this inspiration saying, “Your heart energy is your life force, your burning flame, your passion, your spirit, your special glimmer, your ethereal mystic gateway, and the reason for being alive. Like flames in a fireplace, your heart needs oxygen to glow, thrive and expand. The oxygen is community, unconditional love and being seen by others. Fire is not always controllable; it is messy and creates chaos. But fire inside your heart – as a metaphor – is not dangerous, it is beautiful and wild, and needs to be set free.”

A tapestry-like installation, hung up on the gallery wall entitled ‘Silky Way,’ is woven by Emdal in between her travel studies in Majorca, Paris and Rome. During this journey, she discovered the Coptic Roman textiles, which were created by the weavers to emulate ‘mythical ornaments, flowers and animals they saw on ceramic tiles and other objects.’ Both, the Ikat weaving and the Coptic textiles, employed the usage of silk imported from China, through the Silk Route. The trade route, and its relevance in the realm of textiles, inspired Emdal’s ‘Silky Way.’ The textile sculpture makes use of purple (which has great symbolic importance amongst the Romans), as the dominant colour for the piece.

Both ‘Murex 4ever’ and ‘Piccolo Pellicano’ are inspired by the musically alive landscape of Skagen, on the North Sea coast. The area, livened up by the chatter of insects and animals, as well as the lapping of water and the flow of winds, served as a demonstration of life and rebirth for the artist. ‘Murex 4ever’ also explicitly utilises the usage of the colour purple, which is a hue Emdal is fascinated with. It serves as a tribute to the perennial continuity of life and nature. ‘Piccolo Pellicano,’ inspired from the same landscapes in Skagen, reflects the site’s liveliness, brought on by the bluish hue of natural light. The name is inspired by the marine snail residing in the area.

Reflecting upon the images that inspired the eponymous artwork ‘Fantasia,’ Emdel remarks:

The land of love (Fantasia)
Ocean flowers and Danish corals from my childhood book
Deep-sea creatures
Open landscape
Music with a certain deep feel of female power
Spacious room to move and dance and work on the loom inside of the horizon
High bright poetic light
The hair of Mother Earth (Sweetgrass)
Making love inside of the landscape
Co-create a new reality
Horizontal and vertical wavey stripes, the energy field
Eagle symbolics
My Blue Angel tapestry
Heart presence is the barometer of the future (Lee Harris)
Activation of the life forces inside of me

Emdals’s ‘Infinity Root’ is a hanging textile sculpture imbued in a rich red hue. The artist employed the usage of a unique fusion technique, namely, Loop, which is based on the manual interpretation of the electric tufting machine. The process requires weaving together rows of woollen loops with six thin mohair threads. This weaving technique resonates with intelligently laid out plant systems. ‘Infinity Root’ represents, in the words of the artist, “...a poetic symbol of the root of all life.” Lastly, ‘Palladio,’ a geometric textile sculpture, is inspired by the lace-like octagonal pattern of the terrace of Andrea Palladio’s Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Emdel’s sculptures, created using the Touch technique, beseech visitors to view the works from a distance, without touching. Their inviting tactility, paradoxically juxtaposed against this instruction, frustrates the viewer, while also heightening the experience (of awe) of viewing them. “Please do not touch. Let yourself be touched,” Emdal implores.

Fantasia is on view from September 8 - November 25, 2023, at Galerie Maria Wettergren in Paris, France.

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