Current Obsession: Could you tell us about the pieces you will exhibit at the Stockholm Craft Week?
Hanna Hedman: Yes, I will show two series, one of which I started some years back. Becoming Nature, I first presented at Design Miami together with the American gallery Ornamentum. It is based on Illustrations that I’ve made into 3-dimensional forms in steel. Parallel to that, I am showing a new series of embroidered tapestries in wood and linen that I started during the pandemic, so it’s kind of a ‘covid self-portrait series’ that depicts a foggy, slow and repetitive everyday life.
It’s based around this method of stitching and repeating the process very slowly. It is a slow technique; it’s difficult to get forward fast so that adds a lot of time to the thinking process – this also comes with a mix of frustration, because I am stuck in the time it takes to make. But there is a lot of time encapsulated into the work.
CO: Do you still relate to jewellery even though your work has moved more into larger scale and public art pieces?
HH: In my public work there is a lot of repetition and details similar to my jewellery detailing. Even though I don’t make jewellery at the moment, I think my work still has a lot of relation to jewellery.
I first was invited to make a sketch for a public commission about five years ago, and found that I got a lot of joy from having another audience. Contemporary jewellery is a really lovely community, but it can be quite a small room. In a lot of my public work, I work with children; totally different audiences to the jewellery and collectors. So I enjoyed putting my work into a different context.
CO: I can tell from your studio that you get a lot of inspiration from nature. Could you talk about your interactions with nature and how that informs your artistic practice?
HH: It’s something I’ve always been surrounded by. I used to live by the water; when I looked out of the window I could always see the water. I’ve since moved away, and I really miss the lake a lot because I’ve lived close to it. I’ve always found a sense of calmness in the surface of the water, so that’s how I got into it – with the aim of bringing some of that calmness to my work.
Nature and the woods are home for me, and I always find it to be a little bit of an escape when life gets a bit noisy.
CO: You’ve spoken before about your jewellery pieces altering or conveying a mood. Do you apply this same thinking to your public commissions?
HH: It depends a little bit on the commission, but one of the latest pieces I made was for a high school in the south of Sweden. I wanted it to have a comforting feeling because I remember that time and the worry about fitting in and finding your place in the world. I have interviewed the children about their interests so that I can include those in the forms within the work. A reminder to take care of their interests. They catch you when you fall.
CO: Could you tell us about the process of how you build up your pieces?
HH: I like to build things up from scratch, often using flat pieces and slotting things together; the two-dimensional becoming three-dimensional. It’s a playful and flowing process. Working with the public commissions is a lot less playful because you have to present exactly how it will look in that first sketch. So I put a lot of work into the sketching process, to try and keep a bit of that intuitive process.
CO: You are a member of Collective SVART. Could you talk a bit about your experience working here?
HH: Before I was here, I was working at home in my garage. I had this romantic idea that it would work out really well with small children, and having such closeness to home, but it’s very lonely to sit in a little garage and never really meet anyone else other than your husband and two children.
A space became available here, and I had already expressed interest a few years back. Here it feels like everything is possible. There are people from all different disciplines and backgrounds, which opens up your mind to many more possibilities. It’s increased my confidence to actually apply for these bigger commission jobs too. The collective shares amazing workshops and there is so much knowledge and support here.
“There’s something about knowing where things come from with growing vegetables and also being part of the whole process from seed to fully grown plants; it has maybe made me even more conscious of the materials that I choose for my works. Linen threads, linseed paint, birch wood; it’s important that there is sustainability and poetry within the materials.”
CO: You’ve mentioned that growing in your garden and working amongst your home and garden has influenced the pieces you will be exhibiting at the gallery BARKLUND & Co. Could you speak a little bit about that?
HH: Since we moved into a house, my husband and I spend a lot of time in the garden and we grow a lot of our vegetables. There’s something about knowing where things come from with growing vegetables and also being part of the whole process from seed to fully grown plants; it has maybe made me even more conscious of the materials that I choose for my works. Linen threads, linseed paint, birch wood; it’s important that there is sustainability and poetry within the materials. And then there’s a little bit of a mix with the industrial technique of the laser cutter that I also use.
Before I had the urge to travel to different places in the world all the time, but now I’ve been creating my own little place here, a little haven, I don’t feel the need to get away as much.
This article was commissioned by Stockholm Craft Week 30 September-3 October 2021, and produced by Current Obsession, Veronika Muráriková and Lizzie Abbott.
Photographs by Michelle Bondulich.