Last month, Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh issued the following press release about a collaboration with Magne on a tapestry which will take approximately 5 months to weave and will be woven by up to three weavers at any one time. The process of creating the tapestry will be documented in time lapse film format from beginning to end.
His Royal Highness Duke of Rothesay visited Dovecot Studios on 21 July, and during the course of his visit, he viewed the progress of the ‘Glass Onion’ tapestry:
Note: Magne’s official Twitter account is @mfuruholmen.
Following an introduction from Paul Stolper, Dovecot Studios are delighted to be working with Norwegian artist Magne Furuholmen on an exciting new collaboration in tapestry.
Magne at Dovecot Studios in April 2014.
Dovecot invited Furuholmen to the Studios in early 2013 to consider a tapestry project and following a series of conversations with Dovecot’s weaving team, he returned to the studios in late April 2014 with a selection of design ideas derived from a series of ten large format woodcut prints collectively known as Norwegian Wood. Furuholmen has created a new print titled Glass Onion, specifically as a design for the tapestry, using music as its main reference point. Dovecot are particularly thrilled by this project as Furuholmen’s holistic approach to his practice as an artist – continually assessing his modus operandi and experimenting with various media – will ensure that his involvement in the creation of Glass Onion will be rewarding for all those who are involved in the process. The Glass Onion tapestry will be woven at Dovecot under the supervision of Master Weaver Naomi Robertson. This process will begin in June 2014 and continue throughout the Edinburgh Art Festival to be completed before embarking on a tour in late September. Three of Furuholmen’s Glass Onion woodblock prints will be displayed as part of Dovecot’s summer exhibition Current Exchanges: Dovecot and the Australian Tapestry Workshop, and viewers will be able to watch the weavers work on the tapestry from the Balcony. A major exhibition of Magne Furuholmen’s work is scheduled at Dovecot for early 2015.
Furuholmen’s design for Glass Onion, named after the 1968 Beatles song, marks an inspirational return for the artist to his first use of text and reference to musical terms featured in works he created for his first solo exhibition KUTT at the Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo in 1995. The woodcut prints showcased in KUTT – Norwegian for ‘cut/s’ – related both to the motion of ‘cutting’ the wooden shapes to form the print impressions and the jazz improvisation terminology. Lyrical referencing and musical context underpin Furuholmen’s desire to bring together word, image, sound and installation to form his own type of visual language. In his recent exhibition Norwegian Wood – after the Beatles song – Furuholmen illustrates the performative nature of printmaking through spontaneous and punctuated mark-making. In the same way Furuholmen juxtaposes his influences in this medium, John Lennon references other Beatles song titles in Glass Onion and draws upon the thoughts of the band members. The lyrics ‘Fixing a hole in the ocean, Trying to make a dove-tail joint-yeah, Looking through a glass onion’ suggests an impossible situation. In contrast a glass onion hand-blown bottle designed to hold liquid aboard a sailing ship in high seas, has increased stability due to its shape.
John Lennon had wanted to name a band signed to their record label Apple Records Glass Onion but instead they were called Badfinger. Glass Onion was also the original name of the Glasgow band, later known as Travis which included in its lineup, musician Andy Dunlop with whom Furuholmen collaborated in 2004 on the project Past Perfect Future Tense with appearances from Guy Berryman and Will Chapman from Coldplay. The links with British popular culture are also revealed in Magne’s close relationship with artist Peter Blake, whose portfolio of graphic works Alpha Beta was influenced by Peter Blake’s own An Alphabet A-Z portfolio series.
Furuholmen says of the Glass Onion project:
“While working on a soundtrack for a Norwegian feature film titled Yesterday (to be released Autumn 2014) I came back to woodcuts as a medium for the first time in 10 years. My initial woodcuts in the 90s constituted a breakthrough of sorts as a visual artist, and they were closely linked to jazz and my father’s musical history, whereas this time it was all about the Beatles, and my own musical upbringing.
The link between art and music has always been a natural one to me, but through the medium of woodcuts I found a method (incidentally favoured by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch) which made that point in a very visual way; the separately coloured forms pieced and printed together make up the formal ‘composition’ – seemed to me much like the way clearly defined musical instruments in jazz and pop/rock make up the structure of a particular sound – whereas the looser lines made through use of various tools can perhaps be seen as improvisational or energetic or rebellious elements.
In visual terms, jazz and pop/rock are more closely related then what perhaps meets the ear; a few clearly defined instruments make up a whole. Returning to music as a source of inspiration and to the music of the Beatles in particular, I was very honoured when Peter Blake offered to lend me his personal wood-carving tools for this series. Rife with historic art and music references it meant that for one, I was producing my visual interpretation of the song Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band with the tools of the artist who had originally created the cover for Sgt Pepper in my hands – perhaps one of the most significant pop-cultural images in history.
For the Dovecot project I decided to revisit the images that I had made for the Norwegian Wood series to create a unique work (monotype) and to try and imagine how the weavers would interpret my style. Together we chose a version of the work Glass Onion, as this one seemed to excite the weavers the most. I really like this kind of collaboration, exposing my work to the craft and perspective of others with a completely different angle of attack to my own.”
Read the press release in full here.