Suzanne Swannie Textil: Danish Modern

This exhibition runs from July 22-October 11, 2009 at the Textile Museum of Canada. Curated by Ingrid Jenkner, the show launches on Wednesday, July 22 with a public reception from 6:30pm to 8:00 pm.


Known for the exquisite manufacture and design of her functional textiles and for her charming, intimate tapestries based on poetry and folklore, Suzanne Swannie is an artist of significant range.  The pieces chosen for this 40-year survey exhibition showcase her diversity in subject matter, material, art practice and form. 


An immigrant to Canada from Denmark, Swannie’s practice demonstrates the Danish Modern principle of repetition and modular units as a means of generating surfaces and structures. Her sense of colour harmonies and nod to natural landscapes – the legacy of her Scandinavian training – allows her to move ably between industry, craft and the art world.


Some of the pieces in this diverse survey exhibition are figurative and easily legible (for example, Triptych for Micah, a large-scale tapestry based on a photograph), others are highly stylized and conceptual (for example, Repassage, a hugely labour-intensive installation of hundreds of pressed and pinned silk organza squares). Because of Swannie’s incredible skill and keen design eye, one can see throughout this varied spectrum of work a unifying thread of bridging worlds – the domestic and the public, the figurative and the conceptual, the familiar and the extraordinary. 


In this exhibition, visitors will see some of Swannie’s best known and dramatic weavings, Brud I and Brud II. These works play with intricate variations in colour values and tones to create wonderful arctic-inspired living landscapes, again bridging Swannie’s Danish Modern design sensibilities and her Canadian spirit. 


The exhibition is organized by the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax. The accompanying catalogue contains essays by Sheila Stevenson (Halifax), Rachel Gotlieb (Toronto) and Ron Shuebrook (Guelph). It is available in the Textile Museum Shop.


A lecture will be given by Rachel Gotlieb on Wednesday, September 16 at 6:30pmm in which the work of Suzanne Swannie will be discussed in relation to Canada’s reception of Danish Modernism beginning in the 1950s. Gotlieb is a leading expert on Canadian design and has published several books and articles on the topic.


Also, an artist’s talk will be given by Suzanne Swannie herself on Wednesday, July 22 at 5:00 pm.


Both events are free for members of the Textile Museum of Canada and full-time students, and $12 for non-members. Advance tickets may be purchased in person at the Textile Museum’s front desk. Please arrive early, as seating is limited.


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