Leiden by Natalie Selles in the summer stripes issue of PomPom Quarterly and the crochet Coco Boxy Sweater by Cecilia Losada bring the Bauhaus to mind, with their clear lines, use of bright colour, contrast and graphic shapes.
Irina Poludnenko’s Bauhaus Sweater brings to mind the work of Anni Albers and Gunda Stölzl, two talented artists who basically got shunted over to the weaving department. Although this move was motivated by the Bauhaus director‘s desire to reserve the ‚hard‘ disciplines for men, this restriction inspired a blossoming of creativity in both production and philosophy as evidenced in Albers‘ seminal works On Designing and On Weaving. Both works are highly recommended not just for weavers, but textile artists in general.
If you happen to be in Germany later this year (2019), I hope you won’t miss the Bauhaus centennial celebrations. The design school founded in Weimar in 1919, shortly after the first World War, has had an amazing and far-reaching influence on design worldwide from architecture to fashion, product design and graphic design.
I will be revisiting Bauhaus but here are a few links to whet your appetite::
The permanent collection of the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is definitely worth a look-see. I hope they put up an English website soon. But not to worry, 100 Years of Bauhaus as an extensive English website of everything Bauhaus and -related for this year.
If you’re ever in Concarneau in Brittany, take a walk along the port and say “howdy“ to Carl (see picture above, he‘s in the black tank top) who weaves lovely little key ring bobbles. He speaks at least three languages.
You may be out and about in Germany, and find it too warm to be outdoors too long,
If so, check out a few museums while you’re at it. If you’re in Frankfurt, check out the Museum of Applied Art’s exhibition (above) on Jil Sander.
If you’re in Dusseldorf, pop in to have a look see at the Anni Albers (master weaver who started out in the Bauhaus) retrospective at the K20 museum. Runs til September 9, 2018.
If you’re in Hamburg, a leisurely stroll through the Museum of Art and Design’s (MK&G) current exhibition: Mobile Worlds,
…exhibition concept … questions the Eurocentric order of Western museums: Rather than classify objects according to epochs, geographies, art and non-art, the exhibition focuses on the global movement of objects, people and ideas past and present and the associated intertwining of cultural forms and worlds of life. This perspective reflects the social, cultural and political complexity of post-migrant society.
And if you’re in the South West, consider visiting the Jewelry Museum in The Goldcity, Pforzheim. Not only does their collection take one through five thousand years of jewelry, but they currently are showing “Jeweled Splendors of the Art Deco Era. The Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection.” Who can say no to looking at Art deco? Runs til January 2019.
Keep cool and stay hydrated!
If you see this symbol on shop or café windows, it means you can fill up your water bottle for free.
When it’s as warm as it has been last week in Germany, it’s great museum weather. Well, so I thought. A few days ago, I took part in a Museum night (buy a ticket and have entry to museums, events, tours between 6pm and midnight). To celebrate 20 years of Museum nights, many museums dug deep into their archives to come up with something related to 20. The Natural History Museum for instance had an exhibit about hippos in the Rhine back when the Rhine was 20 degrees Celsius (68F). Very fitting considering the temperatures today.
We went to the City Gallery, the Baden State Museum and the museum of Applied Art in Karlsruhe. While textile museums can be few and far between, Applied Art museums (Angewandte Kunst) will often have a few textile pieces, and are generally great at putting art and design into context.
We caught a tour called ‘The 20 years that influenced Art History- 1890-1910’ and saw this lovely tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones.
KAZAN, RUSSIA – JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images, )
In honour of France’s triumph, winning their second star at the FIFA World Cup Football championship, I thought I’d take a look at knitting in my neighbour country! But then the Trevor Noah thing happened. And then the Mesut Özil thing happened here in Germany. So I went from “Yay!” to “Yeah!” to “Whaaaat?!”
Apparently, Trevor made a joke on his New York based comedy show, The Daily Show, about the win being a win for Africa. The French Ambassador took offence, and wrote him a strict letter, which Noah read on-air and replied to.
At that point, I wasn’t sure I would post here, even though I believe Trevor hit the nail on the head about immigration and the fundamental question each immigrant faces: assimilation vs integration, and what that really means in practical terms. It is not only France, that feels more comfortable if an immigrant sloughs off his/her previous identity to adopt that of the new homeland. Germany does too. And now, that balloon has popped: Mesut Özil.
Of course, I could be cynical and point out the famous Summer news hole (Sommerloch – slow news cycle), where there’s not much going on, so strange topics fill the news in late July-early August, but it’s an important point.
While most folks think Özil shouldn’t have been hanging out with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, his scapegoating for Germany’s poor World Cup showing was uncalled for. And he’s thrown in the towel. He feels discriminated against, as is clear from his Twitter statement.
Which brings me back to a film about the same topic: life for immigrants in Europe, “The African Doctor”/ Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont. The film is about a medical student from Zaïre, who tries to open up a practice in northern France in the 1970s and the difficulties of integration he and his family faces. The happy ending is ONLY secured because the villagers don’t want to lose their most talented footballer.
The film is based on a true experiences of French-Congolese musician Kamini. It’s billed as a comedy and was fairly popular in both France and Germany. Although the film probably won’t be released in UK or US cinemas (please correct me if I’m wrong) due to racial sensibilities, it has been reviewed positively.
What struck me, was what the family, especially the wife (played by Aïssa Maïga) had to give up to follow her husband to France. This of course was glossed over and left uncommented on in the movie: she left her family behind, her comfortable upper middle class existence in Zaïre only to be confronted with people’s backward stereotypes.
On the upside, the 1970s was full of brightly coloured knits and crochets. Emmanuelle Youchnovski did a lovely job capturing the vibrancy of the cosmopolitan world citizens of the 1970s and telling the story of the clash of two worlds through the textiles.
Now, thanks to the Sommerloch, we now have a #Metwo tag and moment, where people with diverse backgrounds can talk about racism and discrimination in Germany. Things won’t change overnight, but it’s a start in the right direction.
My kids absolutely hate the thought of doing anything remotely school-related during the summer. And that includes reading anything that could possibly be edifying or remotely educating in any way. I, on the other hand, like to stock up on books throughout the year so that I have something nearby to read, when the days get too sticky and muggy for me to even contemplate taking up a knitting needle.
Here are a few books (fiction and non-fiction), that I’ve read in summers past, that I can recommend, and what’s on my ‘reading now’ part of the bookshelf… What are you reading this summer?
Books to Change how we see People
Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The reading of this taught me that gender does not have anything to do with love, friendship and heroism. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Fascinating what behavioral scientists learn about us humans. Going, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. Recently translated German bestseller about Germany’s attempt to come to grips with what immigration really means.
Books to Change how we see the world around us The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Another translated bestseller written by a forester about how trees grow, form friendships, raise their kids and have a different sense of time than we do. The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schätzing. Packed with research and action, bringing science fiction and environmentalism together. I would love this to be filmed.
On My Bookshelf Limit by Frank Schatzing. My son gave this to me as a gift, and it’s a bit of a doorstop. Book of Knitting Patterns by Mary Thomas – I jump backwards and forwards trying to envision these timeless patterns in modern yarns living in my stash at the moment. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. Because it’s lovely to laze somewhere in the shade and read about food and look at the gorgeous illustrations.
My knitting friend and I thought we would pop in to Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, have a quick look and get home in time for lunch. I don’t know why we thought that would be possible. We’re still young. That’s the only excuse I’m prepared to give.
If you’re ever in the area (next year the show falls on May 3-5, 2019) and find you have a full day to spare, definitely check out Nadelwelt. The trade show is held in the same place that the ARTkarlsruhe is held, and it’s just massive. My eyes have been opened to how the needlecrafts have taken off in Germany (despite you not seeing a lot of people knitting, crocheting or otherwise crafting in public here).
There was a distinct focus on quilting, with a quilted art exhibition right out front. We had a lovely chat with two British textile artists Cas Holmes and Gillian Travis, who apparently travel around to exhibit and sell at textile shows and fairs all around Europe.
Cas Holmes treats paper, thread and fabric like paints, and her work has the ethereal quality of memories half forgotten, floating out of the subconscious.
Gillian Travis, on the other hand, makes vibrant, graphic quilts which reflect her travels and other sources of inspiration, and just whisks the viewer away as if on a magic carpet. She has an amazing eye for colour, and a wicked sense of humour. I had a great time talking to her.
Although we were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the show (from fabrics, buttons, yarns, sewing machines of all types, etc), we did make a lovely find: our nearest LYS shut down late last year, and now we’ve found a new one. The owner happened to be on hand and she and one of her staff gave us a mini-workshop on Tunisian Crochet.
So while I am not quite in the mood to knit at the moment, I’ve been practising my tunisian crochet and staring at my boot socks, hoping that they’ll have the decency to finish themselves up without me. Thankfully I did them two at a time (each on two DPNs) so each only has about an inch of ribbing left.
About a month ago, I went off with friends on a mystery weekend, and ended up in Bonn (friends willing to plan mystery weekends, and go along on mystery weekends are the best sort, in my opinion!). We went a gorgeous bike tour of the city, and eventually ended up at the University of Bonn’s Arithmeum. Museum of the history of calculating.
We had a great guide, who explained how complicated it had been to create a working adding machine, that would carry all the digits. It used to be complicated work.
These days we can whip out our phones and calculate what 15% off on those fabulous knitting needles will mean to our budgets.
As luck would have it, the Arithmeum (attached to the University Math Department) also had an art exhibit from their works inspired by discrete mathematics.
Absolutely gorgeous. Speaks to the knitter in me. Very much intarsia or mosaic-knitting…
This is an old interview (from 2013) of Women’s Wear Daily’s Berlin Correspondant Melissa Drier on Deutsche Welle. Although what she is wearing in the screen-shot is made in Germany, Drier is a New Yorker. She talks about moving to Berlin in the 1980s, experiencing the Fall of the Wall, The East-West rivalry, and the fashion scene in the German capital and the promising environment giving rise to up and coming designers.
She also talks about Berlin Fashion Week, and the Bread and Butter trade show. Not much has changed since then (the most notable thing is that Mercedes is no longer the major sponsor), and there is a growing niche in sustainable fashion, as an offshoot of the Green Week trade show.
Germany still hasn’t become a fashion capital in the five years since this interview, but it’s still an interesting place to be fashion-wise…
I like this Shannon’s May Day hat because it captures what May is about for me. The green and the flowers. However, there’s a darker side to May Day, the first of May. In the night (technically still the 30th of April), Young protesters in the big cities will go out in the night and basically trash other people’s property.
Along the Rhine valley, young men will go off into the woods in the night to cut a birch tree, climb up to stick it into the chimney of the house where their Sweethearts live. Very dangerous, yes, but that seems to have been the point. (A nice knit cap would be handy to have in either case!)
Some towns and cities also put up Maypoles(Maibäume) to mark the start of May and the Mayfestival period (Did I not tell you Germans love a good party?)