She paints in wool and watercolour



AN february 2000.

An artist is an artist is an artist. How ever she or he may express. Helen Backlund in Göteborg, Sweden, express herself in soft wool, in watercolour and even in exhibitions for other artists. She creates carpets, clothes and jewelery. Right now she has been busy with the marketing of the new at Nordiska Akvarellmuseet in Skärhamn, Tjörn, at the westcoast of Sweden. In the cultural center Frölunda Kulturhus in Göteborg she is represented in febr 2000 in the exhibition with lively paintings made by children from the artistic kindergarten at Styrsö. Helen started it 1992 and led the school for three years and is still doing it to and from.

The interview with Helen Backlund is taking place at Styrsö, because this is where Helen lives. On the island in the archipelago of Göteborg, a serene, lush green island despite its wild surrounding - the sea. Skagerack in the west and over the island lovely trees, big summer villas mixed with small summer cottages and traditional fishermens houses.

In the calm of this island it must be wonderful to live and create?

- I do not create more painting here than in a studio in town. But in this calmness it´s possible to work more. But also it´s necessary to communicate with people in town. It smartens my brain.

Some years ago Helen Backlund joined an exihibition with a group of artists. They showed textile art, ceramics and painting - in Tokyo, Japan and in some prestigeous swedish museums; Krapperup in Skåne, Gotlands Konstmuseum and Röhsska museet in Göteborg.
- I have made some things for swedish handicraft societies, such as the rug dedicated to the western province Bohuslän and made for the county of Västra Götaland.

Tradition as art
Helen Backlund is an designer/artist making experiments in several areas. Her interest lies in textila arts - when she is not working in water colour. She wants the exchange - it´s inspiring. When tired of yarn and cloth painting comes into the studio.
But who can make lovelier sweaters and jackets from the natural grey and white wool, in bright artful tunes or make art from sheep fur!

That fell made of sheep fur exhibited at Liljevalchs big handicraft expo some years ago was immediately sold to an american buyer. Made from 9 white rectangular sheep-skins. Every part had a little piece of embroidered homespun in the middle.

"Something known, but never seen before"

Tradition in a new way is a way of working that Helen Backlund has practised in a projekt with homespun clothes and knitting for HDK, College of Design and Art handicraft, in Göteborg. An interesting work that got the result she had longed for: a folkloristic style when it came to colour and material that could give to people the feeling of something already known but never seen before.
Two years of work.To find tradition she studied museum collections and made analysis of the idea. Tradition can be negative, can be positive, can be something lost or something still modern.
- I think it´s important to let the beautiful in tradition live and re-make it. I wish more designers to make experiments in this area. Why not? In
e g folk music the young people find meaning, exclaims Helen.
- And the interest in old fashioned architecture is increasing.

The homespun collection showed elegant short coats decorated with leather strips and lined with "kattun", a traditional cloth with flower design, jackets and coats with furry collars, sweaters, striped in typical folklore bright colours. The clothes were sewn by AnnMarie Isaksson in Lerum and are sold at the shop Konsthantverkarna at Mäster Samuelsgatan in the swedish capital Stockholm. The clothes are not cheap of course, beacuse this type of design and quality is almost equivalent to that of the haute couture.

Knitting in fashion

Helen Backlunds design is represented in modern handicraft shops in Sweden. Knitting is also a vital part in Helens creative world. Both ready-made sweaters made by Karin Kahnlund on knitting machine and sweaters, jackets and caps and mittens sold as knitting kits for the knitting consumer.

By Jeanette Axvi

© Artic News 2000 Jeanette Axvi. All rights reserved.



Link to Nordiska Akvarellmuseet på Tjörn










Helen Backlund, Göteborg







dedicated to the swedish province Bohuslän.
Photo Björn Breitholz





Kollektion Grå: scarf, sweaters, mittens, caps are sold as knitting kits i handicraft shops; Sätergfläntans, Bollnäs, Dalarnas, Leksands and Östgöta.




Embroidery in homespun, sewn into fur. A detail from ...

... the rug for the wall made of 9 sheep skins from Gotland. Textile art by Helen Backlund. Photo Magnus Selander.













Cool look! Updated handicraft. Coats in homespun, knitted tuniques, scarf with small colour checks, hearted mitten. Photo J Axvi