T a p e s t r y   T o p i c s   O n l i n e

©2006 American Tapestry Alliance

          A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

Spring 2006 Vol 32 No 1

Page > 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Note: Tapestry Topics Online has been trimmed down in order to present color images with selected excerpts from the printed version, available to members by mail. For the full articles refer to the printed Spring 2006 issue.
Index of Content

The Queen's Tapestry

by Mary Lane

– TT p.5-6

In 1904 Professor Gabriel Gustafson began excavations on a burial mound located in Oseberg, Norway. The site, which dates to the ninth century, is the only known Viking grave exclusively containing the remains of women. Two female bodies, one a generation older than the other, were interred within a burial ship and accompanied by household goods, textiles and weaving tools.

above: Sol Baekholt,  The Viking Ship Museum, detail from
"The Queen's Tapestry" 3' x 78', 2003

The Oseberg remains came to the attention of Sol B. Baekholt during her graduate studies….In 2004 Baekholt designed a series of narrative tapestries, several silk rugs, and sets of both porcelain and silver to commemorate the centenary of the Oseberg excavation….The centerpiece of Baekholt's independently financed exhibition is "The Queen's Tapestry, "a 3' x 78' tapestry that depicts the artist's interpretation of the life of the women laid to rest within the Oseberg burial ship….The linear, chronological narrative contains eleven scenes, beginning with Alvhild's childhood and ending with the transport of the burial ship to the Viking Ship Museum in Bygdøy, Norway, where it is located today….The images in the tapestry include depictions of actual objects found on the burial ship, as well as imagery from the pictorial weavings included among the burial goods. The burial ship itself figures in many of the scenes. The patterned borders that enclose the narrative also derive from motifs found on Oseberg artifacts.

above: Sol Baekholt,  Daily Life at Oseberg, detail from
"The Queen's Tapestry" 3' x 7', 2003

 The source material used in the tapestry is augmented and enriched by the imagination of Sol Baekholt..... Baekholt employed five Polish tapestry artists to complete "The Queen's Tapestry." The tapestry combines hand dyed Norwegian spelsau woolen weft with a linen warp. The Vikings favored the resilient spelsau sheep and brought them along as they settled in foreign lands.

above: Sol Baekholt,  Wedding Procession, detail showing join from "The Queen's Tapestry" 3' x 78', 2003
below: The beginning of The Wedding Procession, detail from
"The Queen's Tapestry" 3' x 78', 2003

The tapestry was woven in sections that were assembled after the weaving was completed. With this knowledge it is possible to identify the different styles of the participating weavers. Because of the enormous length of the tapestry and the folkloric style of the imagery, the technical variety does not detract from the charm of the piece. Baekholt is to be congratulated on the completion of such an ambitious project. (See website at www.vikingqueen.com or http://www.khm.uio.no/english/viking_ship_museum/index.shtml )

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