OBJECT OF THE MONTH
A Scandinavian Flatweave by Barbro Nilsson
Informed by the universal visual language of line and shape that has infused designs of the past, Nilsson is known for producing carpets that are simple but beautifully balanced. For many she was the saviour of Swedish textile pioneer Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s workshop when it became AB MMF upon her death in 1942. At the helm, Nilsson kept the focus on original designs and high quality hand woven production, preventing the practice from falling into the hands of international industrialists. The studio’s director for some three decades, she came to the role having been head of Textiles at the School of Industrial Arts in Stockholm where she was known as an exceptional colourist using both natural and artificial dyes.
At the Afridi Gallery this carpet has been paired with a 17th century Persian torchstand and the camera lens focuses on the detail, throwing the Swedish carpet behind into a soft haze. Despite standing 25 cm tall, the torchstand, from Khorassan, dominates the image. The two objects share no historical connection, yet in the high relief brass surface of one we find some of the same geometric forms as in the other, with the pairing revealing affinities that would otherwise be imperceptible.
In the torchstand, a highly intricate floral patterning starkly protrudes against a hatched background in almost the same way as Nilsson’s folds of wool swell in puffs as they interlace with one another. Writhing through the weave, strands of red and grey trail a loosely zigzagged path over the carpet, joining the torchstand at just such an angle that these meandering lines become bold, almost sculpturally defined gestures carving strong diagonals across the centre of the composition.
Handwoven wool flatweave
Scandinavia, Sweden 1952
Designed by Barbro Nilsson
Dimensions: 2.38 x 1.70 m
Signed ABMMF BN
Brass Torchstand, Safavid Dynasty, Iran, 17th century, H 25 cm
The Gallery is specifically designed to let objects speak for themselves, creating an intriguing dialogue between different art forms, united by quality of design and mastery of execution.
Afridi 76 Royal Hospital Road London SW3 4HN www.shahbazafridi.com
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