A New Thread in a Great Embroidery

“In the mornings we had breakfast together in the kitchen. She spoke of her father who’d worked on the railway, of her mother who’d died, and of Thea who’d moved into their house in Inndalsveien. She spoke of her sister Margit, and of her first meeting with her lover in the hut below Løvstakken, how he’d saved her. We lived together, got married and had a son, your father, she said. She talked away, bringing out the same stories over and over again, but each time a new detail was added, a new story, it wove itself into the others like a new thread in a great embroidery: her family tapestry. It hung there, unseen, on the kitchen wall, a large embroidered tapestry with characters she’d invented, landscapes as she recalled them, small studies of rooms and furniture which were sketched and woven together in her imagination; a tapestry of scenes from working life and family life, with streets and houses, a long, narrow street with blocks of brick buildings and children playing, and in the background, behind all the changing motifs, behind all the narratives, far away, like a miniature in the great, colourful weft: a picture of the harbour. Quayside cranes and shipyards, boats and factories, workers and seamen, small characters stitched in place between the buildings and the sea; I could see the same image from the flat where we were sitting, from the dining-room window; it was as if she’d put me into the tapestry she was weaving, I was being painstakingly woven into her story, the whole of my background and history, and gradually, too, my present, she cut it out and sewed it into this tapestry of motifs that resembled the ones I saw every single day from the dining-room window.”

From Tomas Espedal’s Against Art. His tapestry a revelation of his narrative approach, the interweaving of his life with those who came before, without whom he wouldn’t have existed. Everything interconnected. I wasn’t sure that my initial enchantment of discovering Espedal’s work would hold up, but I needn’t have worried.

4 thoughts on “A New Thread in a Great Embroidery

  1. Pingback: The Hazards of Rereading | Time's Flow Stemmed

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