Continuum – Woven Miniatures, Solveig Aalberg

Another fantastic book by one of the Nordic Textile Artists, Norwegian Solveig Aalborg. When it arrived this spring, I remembered having published her huge work “Passing Through”, 202 x 398 cm, as part of “Artapestry 5” in January 2018  ( ). Assuming that she always works on a large scale, I admired her output – so many well balanced weavings, so colourful and subtle! Later, reading the title, I realised how small these works are, and how much they prove that art can be made in any dimension. I was reminded of the way Mark Rothko works with colours and indeed, the artist mentions him as as one of the influences she feels inspired by.

There was a another surprise: the tapestries are finely made by hand after an experience Solveig Aalborg had with large digital tapestries, called “Energy Lines”, that were woven in the Tilburg Textile Museum, an approach many artists use these days. Although Aalborg says that it was a liberating time for her to combine analogous drawing with digital technology, she was also painfully aware of the absence of the manual and physical element.

That manual element returned in the “Continuum” project, a series of 100 miniature woven works with subtle colour nuances and fine rhythms. The artist says that for her, “Continuum” represents a summary of her artistic career, from the 1980s to the present day. She feels she could not have done it before, and believes that this has to do with her age (she was born in 1955), the experiences she has accumulated by now, and her place in life at this moment.

Continuum is a long-term process. The artist says she is “interested in the way that many repetitions involve shifts and changes, and it is precisely a large number of works that allows that. That is why I decided on a hundred. For me one hundred is a neutral number. Each miniature is developed and built up intuitively. But intuition is of course a matter of integrated knowledge and the ability to put things together in new ways, from the choice of colours to the number of wefts, and it might vary between system and non-system.

The book itself is also part of the miniature process, in tandem with the weaving. I work on texts and layout in InDesign – for each miniature I write down the colours I use and how many times these colours are repeated. I have decided to include this in the book in order to show the rhythm and complexity behind each miniature. The rhythm of the tapestries is reflected in these writings.

The artist explains that “the word continuum stems from the Latin verb continere, which means “to hold together”. The word can also be associated with something enduring, ceaseless, or uninterrupted. It has other connotations as well, referring for example to a continuous sequence where the transition from one element to the next can scarcely be noticed, even as the extremities are different. A continuum is also a continuous series of closely associated events. Therefore continuum is a meaningful title for this ever-growing and enduring project.”

 This book was published in 2020 by Grieg Wyller Forlag and has 280 pages; all texts are in Norwegian and English. The texts include an essay by Ole Robert Sunde, an interview with the artist by Anne Karin Jortveit and a curriculum vitae of Solveig Aalberg. All tapestries are published in colour. Online I found it for sale at at the price of 380 NOK (about 37 EUR), not much for such a well-produced book which I would warmly recommend.

Beatrijs Sterk

Solveigh Aalberg: Continuum #024, 2017, 19,5 x 23,5 x 4,5cm; linen, cotton and polyester; woven and stitched; photo Halvard Haugerud
Solveigh Aalberg: Continuum #017, 2017, 19,5 x 23,5 x 4,5cm; linen, cotton, polyester and polypropylen; woven and stitched; photo Halvard Haugerud
Solveigh Aalberg: Continuum #037, 2020; 20 x 24 x 4,5 cm; linen, cotton, polyester and polypropylen; woven and stitched; photo Halvard Haugerud