Helena Hernmarck

Helena Hernmarck
Born 1941, Stockholm, Sweden

Helena Hernmarck is a Swedish-born artist and handweaver recognized for revolutionizing tapestry as a medium suited to modern architectural envi- ronments. Her goal in the medium
of tapestry is to create the illusion of movement, or fool the eye regarding the viewing distance where the image can be clearly read.

Helena Hernmarck was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1941. Her mentors were three Swedish pioneers of the modern movement in textiles: Alice Lund, Edna Martin, and Astrid Sampe. After graduating from art school in Stockholm in 1963, she moved her studio to Canada and later to England before settling in the United States in the mid-1970s. Hernmarck now maintains an active studio in Connecticut, USA. She continues to support Swedish textile arts, and collaborates with Swedish spinners, dyers, and weavers on each commission. Her closest collaborators have been Wålstedts Textilverkstad, a spinning and dying mill in Dala-Floda, Sweden, and Alice Lund Textilier, a weaving atelier in Borlänge, Sweden.

Hernmarck’s signature is her ability to harness light and color as conduits for spectacular illusion in handwoven textiles. Using a technique of her own invention, she conjures details from our visual world: sunlight on water, sails swelling in the wind. The gloss of photo paper, the graininess of photocopies, even creases in a weathered page have served as sources of technical inspira- tion in the continuous evolution of her technique.

Each tapestry begins with an image, and is realized over months of weaving row-by-row at the loom. Skeins of yarn are rolled into balls and arranged according to the logic of the rainbow. These colors blend in countless variations as the weaving progresses, creating a sense of visual impact unique to Hernmarck’s tech- nique and to the lustrous rya wool that is her primary material. Seen from a distance, Hernmarck’s tapestries present a powerful, unified impression. Up close, her compositions dissolve into innumerable color mixtures interlaced as warp and weft.

Helena Hernmarck, Knit Illusion, 2017, wool, linen, cotton, punchinello, 45.25 x 35". Courtesy of the artist.

Helena Hernmarck, Wool Illusion, 2016, wool, linen, cotton, punchinello, 35.25 x 35".  Courtesy of the artist.

Helena Hernmarck image courtesy of WACH.