Dreaming of embracing the world

Bodil Busk Laursen 2011 - Museum Director, Designmuseum Danmark. Translated by Dan A Marmorstein

…  wrote Ane Henriksen in 2004 in a piece about her quest to create images that accommodate the existential and delicate balance between the ambient and the inner world, about finding the personal expression for her quest and about passing on the vulnerability through the craft of textile-making. In her many unforgettable wall pictorial tapestries created in the past 25 years, Ane Henriksen, with sensitive seismographic precision, has caught hold of painful nodes in the world, in nature and in human existence. Through these pieces, she has managed to redeem experiences that nobody evades.

Already at the time of her debut at the Artists' Autumn Exhibition in 1983, where she presented the pictorial weaving, “Bunker” from Hanstholm, it was clear to see that in Ane Henriksen’s work, there was a significant renewal underway in Danish pictorial weaving, a discipline thathad been undergoing a process of dissociating itself from traditional Gobelin tapestry weaving. Up until today, Ane Henriksen has been working with a procession of series of pictorial weavings where she has been exploring themes that range from “Vegetation”, “Handicraft (Home Made)”,
“Nature Un Nature” to “Winding Sheets“ and “Thy Squa-res”. From recent years, there are the simultaneously serious and light-hearted digitally-printed “Woman’s Wrap” and the new larger weavings on view at the exhibition in the Danish Museum of Art & Design, where the authentic material is carried right into the actual narrative – as seen from the woman’s angle.

The first source of inspiration for Ane Henriksen was nature, especially the nature at Hanstholm, where she resided for many years. The North Sea, the dunes, the sand – the wind-swept surround, the rawness in the materials, marked by traces of sea and breezes and the people who are chastened day in and day out by the Western Winds. The impressions from nature can be spotted in a series of square and abstract, almost optical images from the early 1990s, woven in nature’s colours with traditional shaft loom and bearing titles like “Lyme Grass marks Eternity”, “The Forest Vapours” and “Reservation” – quiet and powerful images that conjoin past with present with eternity.

After this, Ane Henriksen embarks on a few intensely focused trips to many parts of the globe. She becomes a citizen of the world and goes on to weave series of works that take their inspiration from national folk textiles. On the basis of her affection for textile, hushed empathy is clad in all of life’s phenomena, spanning from birth, everyday life and life’s feasts and celebrations up until the cloth is finally wrapped around the deceased individual. Especially stirring is the textile, “Stabat Mater”, created in 1997, where seemingly endless rows of identically white-clad female characters
fashionan ornament, a signature for the grieving mother, with the cross’s contour as an indelible shadow behind each one of the figures. Here, and in other examples from the “The World’s Carpets - Winding Sheets” series, a great many impressions from the wide world, ranging from politics to war, are commingled with human life’s basic conditions.

A provisional rounding-off of Ane Henriksen's artistic progress was articulated in 1998 in the form of a publication that served as a link in the Danish Ministry of Culture’s book series, appearing at that time, about younger craftspeople and designers. The set of books took form as a composition with pictures and texts created by the artist herself and poems from Inger Christensen’s cycle “The Butterfly Valley - a Requiem”. Here, we find a unique symbiosis between words and textiles, between poetry and pictorial weaving. Here, life is being woven together with art.

Later on – after Ane Henriksen moved to Copenhagen, sometime around 2001, the inspiration started to come to her more especially from inside, from her own life, from ruptures, departures and even divorce. In a series of pictures executed in several techniques, body and gender and their reciprocal relations are examined – especially through the inclusion of materials and motives from the female universe: the child’s pearl boards, samplers and other kinds of home-made ar-ticles. The greater parts of Ane Henriksen’s works from these years are monumental tapestries, executed in varying and highly experimental techniques and with interwoven wefts composed of different kinds of previously used mate-rials, found everywhere and bearing some direct connection to the pictures’ motives. By working with contrasts between motive and materials, people’s vulnerability – and strength – is enveloped in these important works.

In the truest sense of the word, Ane Henriksen is a textile artist. She possesses a very rare degree of insight into how to utilize and master her medium. In her pieces, there is an internal coherence, where the choice of materials, technique, and structure constitutes a most significant aspect of the work’s ultimate expression. Typically, the materials contain a direct reference to the work’s inspiration and title; the work is saliently textile-ish in a very special way because in her hands, what it is that characterizes textile in relation to other materials becomes unequivocally clear. Ane Henriksen’s works are perceived by the viewer as being three-dimensional without being freestanding: the three-dimensional effect is achieved solely through the choice of structure, materials, and technique.

Ever since her debut at the beginning of the 1980s, Ane Henriksen has been running an intensive domestic and international operation and she is enjoying hard-earned and well-deserved recognition for her original and important activity in the realm of textile art. A solo exhibition with works by Ane Henriksen has been standing high on the Danish Museum of Art & Design’s list of wishes for some time now. It is with a great deal of pride that the museum now feels privileged to present a comprehensive exhibition showing this important artist's works from the most recent years.

Bodil Busk Laursen