Else Marie Jakobsen – Tapestries and Engagement

While Else Marie Jakobsen (b. 1927 in Kristiansand) is known for her many monumental tapestries and woven altarpieces, she has also played an important role in renewing textile art in Norway. Much loved by the public, she has used the medium of pictorial weaving to express an avid engagement in art, politics and social issues.

After graduating from Statens Håndverks- og Kunstindustriskole (school of applied art in Oslo) and working as a journeyman in the Netherlands, she returned to her home town of Kristiansand in 1951 to set up her own vevstue – weaving studio. Initially producing use-oriented textiles, in 1953 she expanded her practice to include pictorial tapestries. At the same time she worked as a designer for several textile factories. She has received awards for her designs and won large contracts for decorative commissions for public buildings.

Using an art historical perspective, the exhibition will convey the development of her extensive production, including her textile designs, and shed light on her role as a socially and politically engaged artist.

Else Marie Jakobsen (1927-2012) worked as an artist for more than 60 years and leaves to posterity about 583 tapestries-small, large and monumental. Many were made for churches and someeven function as alterpieces. Other tapestries have secular themes marking celebrations, commemorating tragic events or protesting about environmental issues and the destruction of Kristiansand’s heritage sites. The unifying idea behind her energetic practice was the belief that art has power to help change society.

Else Marie Jakobsen’s art is inextricably linked to Kristiansand. When she graduated from art school in 1950, she was warned not to settle in her home town. It would to impossible to survive as an artist, her teacher said. Else Marie Jakobsen proudley proved her teacher wrong. She held a unique position through her social-political engagement and participation in the city’s art scene, not least by initiating several large summer exhibitions in early 1970s.

Starting in the 1950s, Else Marie Jakobsen worked alongside other textile artists to renew Norwegian textile art. Over time, the field came to be seen as an independent category of art with equal status to painting and sculpture. Else Marie Jakobsen was more than a weaver. To earn a living she set up her own studio in 1951 and later began designing fabrics for the texstile industry. Her designs were part of a general renewal of textile production in post-war Norway. She entered national and international competitions and won several prizes.

Through this retrospective exhibition, SKMU aims to shed light on an artist whose legacy looms large in the art history of southern Norway.