Summer exhibition: Ada's Dream
June 3 - August 18 2022
When K.A. Almgren travelled to France in the 1820's, he did so in order to seek treatment for his Tuberculosis. But he had further motives. He wanted to learn French. Almgren aspired to learn it so well that he could come within the closed doors of the French silk mills. These doors were not open to foreigners. Within them was the latest, and most efficient in weaving technology, the Jacquard loom.
The Jacquard mechanics was revolutionary in its time. The machine uses punch cards to lift the warp, and reduced the demand for labour. This invention is commonly considered to be the beginning of the digital age we live in today.
Since the days of K.A. Almgren, looms have been computerised. A modern equivalent to the Jacquard looms is the so called TC2 (Thread Controller). The TC2 is controlled through a computer system, although the weaving is done by hand. Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design is equipped with a TC2 machine. Three Bachelor's students have used the machine to produce their examination projects of 2022. These pieces are displayed in this exhibition.
The participating artists are: Emelie Ivert, Erika Coleman och Rebecka Jonsson.
About silk shawls, jacquard looms and female workers in the textile and clothing industry from the beginning of the 19th century to today,
In our new permanent exhibition on the third floor you get to meet some of the women who worked here and learn more about the silk scarves, and everything else, that they wove or sewed. The exhibition explores Almgren's silk factory's almost 200-year long history through a global perspective. From the beginning in 1833, before the breakthrough of industrialism in Sweden, through the glory days, the decline, the broadening of the business, the crisis of textile and clothing manufacturing in Sweden, and finally the restart, tying up the knot at present day. It is an exciting story that both reflects the development of industrialism in Sweden and provides a perspective on today's unsustainable fashion industry. Change is necessary and we can all contribute.
The exhibition Fabriken is built around three themes, from the 19th century to the present day and which are highlighted based on the history of Almgren's Silk factory.
The rise and fall of the textile and clothing manufacturing
The demand for shawls in combination with entrepreneurship and technical innovation (jacquard mechanics) creates a successful silk industry in the 19th century and may here represent Swedish industrialization in a broader sense. But how did the Silk Weaving Company survive the 20th century, a time when the demand for silk fell? During the 20th century, the business expanded and several companies in fashion were started.
Almgren's Silk Factory has always been a women's workplace and the exhibition highlights the women who have worked here from the 19th century onwards. Here are stories from previous employees and objects showing their work. Today, almost no textiles are manufactured in Sweden. It is instead a source of income for women on the other side of the globe. What was it like working as a woman in the Swedish textile industry in the 19th century? And in the 20th century? What are the similarities and differences with today's working conditions in other countries?
Using the shawl as an example, we tie together the Silk Factory's nearly 200-year history. In the 19th century, the shawl was the silk mill's most important product with a large spread among women, especially among the peasantry, which at that time constituted a large majority of the population. Girls often received their first shawl in connection with confirmation. At the same time, the shawl was a fashion accessory and an example of popular luxury consumption. The demand for factory-made textiles pushed industrialization. Around 1900, women began to prefer wearing hats, a development that aroused some resistance but could not be stopped. The exhibition provides historical and contemporary perspectives on the use of shawls.
The Factory has been produced with support from the Swedish National Heritage Board.
Part 1 - Humankind. March 27 - June 12 2021
The exhibition is about textiles' references to human experiences and shows works by Liisa Hietanen, Kari Steihaug, Anna Sjons Nilsson and Helen Heldt Hortlund.
Textile trilogy part 1 has "man" as its theme, which of course is a huge topic, but when it comes to textile materials and methods, it is natural to start at that end. The textile is linked with the senses, with the body, the skin - touch. Textile handling is also strongly associated with thinking, calculations and technology - knowledge. Textile as an artistic medium is suitable for the theme "man" with its connotations of body and intelligence.
Print for Christmas
Digitally on our social media in December 2020
The tradition of decorating your home for Christmas is old. For several hundred years, both castles and simple cottages have been decorated with textiles to create a weekend atmosphere, especially for Christmas. The fabrics could be woven, embroidered or painted. The first printed Christmas tablecloths did not arrive until the 1920s. In the 1950s, the colors and shapes became bolder, at the same time as textile artists began to be hired more and more. Demand was high and Christmas tablecloths were mass-produced. The exhibition "Printed for Christmas" highlights an overlooked form treasure.
Until the so-called TEKO crisis (textile and clothing) during the 1950s and 70s, Sweden had an extensive textile industry. Today, almost all textiles and clothing are manufactured in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. As Scandinavia's oldest yet active industrial environment, the silk factory is a perfect platform to showcase these mass-produced textiles that still adorn so many homes for Christmas.
"Printed for Christmas" was supposed to be shown in the silk factory in December 2020, but then came the pandemic. Now we make a digital Advent calendar instead starting on December 1. Every weekday until Christmas, a printed Christmas tablecloth is published on Almgren silk factory's social media. It will be an example of the large design tax that was delivered from the Swedish textile industry in the 1950s and 60s. For the third Advent, we are putting up a film that shows how you can print Christmas motifs on textiles yourself. As a Christmas gift tip, or maybe for yourself, because it is so fun to create in textiles.
The exhibition Printed for Christmas is a result of the cultural historians Anna Lindqvist's and Marie Odenbring Widmark's survey of printed Christmas textiles and has been created in collaboration with the Textile Museum in Borås, Västarvet and Östergötland Museum. Their work is also compiled in the book "Printed for Christmas" (Carlssons).
The Tie Factory
Sept 14 - Oct 31 2020
For many years, ties were made at Almgren's silk factory. The silk fabrics were woven in the factory on Repslagargatan while the actual tie sewing took place up in the attic of the office property at Kornhamstorg 6.
Tie has long been a mandatory accessory for men in suits. At the silk factory, however, not many wore ties. The manufacturer and foreman made up a few exceptions adorned in this otherwise female-dominated workplace. In recent times, the dress codes have changed and the occasions when a tie is required are now quite few. Ties have become shelf warmers in many men's wardrobes. Some preserve them for emotional reasons, such as reminders of various events or periods in life. Others dispose of their ties, throw them away or pass them on.
Previously, no textile was thrown away. For most of the 20th century, textiles were counted as a capital in all classes of society and were managed to a small extent. Silk quilts and other status objects, for example, were made of silk. In step with mass production and mass consumption, textile waste also increased. Today we throw 8 kg per person every year, straight into the household rubbish.
The artist duo Katarina Brieditis & Katarina Evans run a textile studio in Stockholm. They make unique textiles mainly from used clothes and surpluses from the textile industry. Used t-shirts and torn wool sweaters, for example, were given new life in the Re Rag Rug project, where 12 rugs were created in 12 different techniques in as many months.
Almgren's silk factory has now invited Studio Brieditis & Evans to create a design in the preparation room. This time the material is luxurious, but just like before, it is a matter of mass-produced and leftover textiles. The starting point is a thousand discarded company ties of silk that they received as a donation. Ties that were produced during the late 20th century to be worn by male officials for entertainment purposes.
Visions / thoughts from Studio Brieditis & Evans:
With the industrial premises' old machines as a starting point, we form a fantasy about how the silk factory's machines may have been used and what they can achieve. Mass production, monotonous repetitions. Too many of the same become abundance, leftover, over. Eternity machines that produce and produce. Drive belts of ties, piles of ties, ties that drip, spray and are fed out of the machines. Discarded, remade and mixed into mash or ash? Recycled? Discarded ties are given new life through textile experiments in the Tie Factory.
Film by Johanna Schartau from the exhibition Urban Weft at Silk Weaving 2010