Textile Curator | Norwegian tapestry artist Tonje Hoydahl Sorli
Disney cartoon characters and other popular imagery are reinterpreted into hand woven tapestry
Exclusive interview and work from contemporary textile artist / fibre artist
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Tonje Hoydahl Sorli
Tonje Hoydahl Sorli A Critical Culimination_2013_l80-w50-h85cm

A Critical Culmination (2013)

 85 x 50 cms

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli  When Grief Comes_2015_size ca 1x1x1m

When Grief Comes (2015)

100 x 100 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli Calm, Sober Reflection_2013_l87xw50xh87cm

Calm, Sober Reflection (2013) 

87 x 50 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli He Disappears in  a Cloud of Black Ink_2013_h80x w50x l87cm

He Disappears in a cloud of black ink (2013)

80 x  50 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Escape Attempts 1

Escape Attempts (2014)

30 x 20 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli  You_Will_Reach_A_New_Understanding_2013_h92xw50xh128cm

You Will Reach a New Understanding (2013) 

92 x 128 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli A_Critical_Culimination_2013

 Part of A Critical Culmination (2013) 

150 x 150 cm

Tapestry on Cotton Warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli, tapestry, We dont Know what the Little Bird Sings_2015

We Don’t Know What the Little Bird Sings! (2015)

120 x 180 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Tonje Hoydahl Sorli, tapestry, A time beyond Time

A Time Beyond Time/You Will Reach A New Understanding! (2012)

120 x  180 cm

Tapestry on cotton warp

Norwegian Tonje Hoydahl Sorli is based in Oslo where she divides her time between tapestry weaving, writing lyrics and comics. Popular cultural references are an important part of her work which she uses to illustrate the way society lives today. 



What is your background in textiles?


I studied at KHIO, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, in the textile department. I also have a masters in textiles.



How do you describe your work?


Colourful and a bit melancholic.



How do you work?


I sketch and make samples. I gather fragments from comics, quotes, interviews, ads, and work from there. In my weavings the motifs often are appropriated.



How long does a piece like ‘A Critical Culmination,’ take to weave?


It takes about three months. But then I don’t weave full time, I do other things to vary how I use my hands and body, so I also write and draw. 



Why do you display it on frames?


It started as an experiment, then I found out it was a good way to highlight the themes I am interested in and want to focus on. The frame is the tool, it is made for weaving, and was popular in Norway in the 1960s – 1980s. For many of those women weaving on a frame during the 1970s, when the fight for equal rights between women and men had its peek with the alternative movement, the weaving frame ended in the basement or attic. So for me its both a symbol of a fight for justice/equal rights that perhaps stopped to soon, and a way to show the work that lies behind the making of a tapestry.



Do you always leave the threads at the back of the tapestry hanging?


Mostly. This is to make the viewer curious, and also point to the backside or inside. This thought is on two levels, one is the making of the tapestry, two is the theme – the double side to most things, and also the more problematic or tangled sides of life. The perfect front and the messy back! 



Who or what inspires you?


I am inspired by relationships, both my own and others experiences, pop-music and cartoons.



On your website you say ‘Tapestry is linked to the 1970s and the fight for equal rights for men and women.’ Why do you feel tapestry is linked to the fight for equal rights?


It was in Norway. The use of and growth of textile hobbies and “do it yourself” was important in the alternative movement in the seventies. When I went to KHIO no-one taught us tapestry, it was definitely “out”. It was viewed as a purple medium – purple being the colour of the alternative movement. Peace and love!



I love your popular culture motifs. Why are you using cartoon characters?


Thank you! I love cartoons. And I also wanted to make use of and have references to the world that everyone knows to say something about the world we live in. The use of Daisy Duck for instance, is because I wanted a feminine main character in my weavings that could voice the feminine way of feeling and experiencing.



Do you have any advice for people wanting to be textile artists?


I`d say study! And work. And don’t be restricted to just working in the medium of textiles.