Vibeke Rohland awarded a Hetsch Medal

In April I posted about an exhibition in Copenhagen at the Superobjekt Gallery of work by the textile designer Vibeke Rohland. In May, at Copenhagen City Hall in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe, Vibeke was awarded the prestigious Hetsch medal - a major Arts and Crafts prize awarded first in 1879 and now hosted by kea - the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology. This year the award committee included the artist Björn Norgaard, the architect Kristin Urup, the museum director Bodil Busk Laursen and As Øland from Dansk Fashion and Textile.

Works by the winners of medals are now on display at Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere, Bredgade 66 and the exhibition continues until 12th July.

The striking and very impressive winning work by Vibeke, Crossroads’n Ginham, is a silk-screened piece in white on a rich black. The starting point for the piece was an exploration of the well-known gingham pattern which is a traditional woven textile with a tight regular pattern of small squares - often white on blue, white on red or white and pink. Gingham is woven in a light or medium-weight cotton; the finished textile is double sided and because it was light and strong as a fabric it was often used in the USA for clothes for children or for table clothes and curtains … think Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and picnic baskets.

In contrast, the work by Vibeke is printed, single-sided and forms a substantial hanging with the weight of a tapestry with incredible visual strength and impact; gingham is a tight repeat of squares and this piece by Vibeke is actually a design without repeats although the pattern seems at first to be quite regular and where gingham has tight small squares, that together often form larger checks, close examination of this piece shows the design to be made up with small regular dots of thick, almost impasto, layers of white dye … so, as in other works by Vibeke, this is, if textiles can be subversive, subversive. It’s a very very clever exploration of tight texture with layers of pattern to give visual richness and layers of print built up to give a strong sense of depth … an exploration of a traditional textile technique to take it forward in a striking new form.

The works by the other silver medallists are on display and include pieces by the ceramist Charlotte Thorup, brooches by the goldsmith Janne K Hansen and an elegant and finely-made piece in wood by the cabinet maker Kristian Frandsen along with works by the winners of the bronze medal.