In Rødovre and Ishøj ethnic minority women from the handicrafts group I tråd med verden (ITMV) get together to embroider imaginative heads and hairstyles on round cushions of wool and recycled materials. The motifs are inspired by sculptures in Thorvaldsens Museum. The women of ITMV are in a training programme where they are further qualified for engagement in the labour market.
Thorvaldsens Museum has ordered 13 cushions that they would like to use when kindergarten children visit the museum for the “Top of the Body” event. As the title indicates, the event is about the many heads and busts that can be seen at the museum. The motifs on the cushions are therefore also heads – on which the children can sit when they make their own versions of busts and heads during their visit. The cushions have been designed with a practical back pocket for paper and pencil and a handle so the children can take the cushions along with them on the tour.
For Asiye, who has specialized in embroidery, ITMV is a programme in which she is able to familiarize herself with several fields of Danish language, culture and art history:
“The trip to Thorvaldsens Museum was good. It’s a large, impressive building with lots of people. The work with the cushions was enjoyable and the results are really fine. I like to go to ITMV because of the friends and togetherness I find there. I like to do different kinds of handicraft – but embroidery most of all!”
For the head of the Schools Service at Thorvaldsens Museum, Julie Lejsgaard Christensen, it makes good sense to involve ITMV in the production of the cushions:
“There are lots and lots of different ways to visit museums, and just as many different approaches and openings towards the museum’s art works and content. In the collaboration with ITMV it is embroidery that has helped to open up the museum to the participants. At Thorvaldsens Museum we have exhibited a beautifully embroidered set of furnishings that were presented to Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1838 by the citizens of Copenhagen. The embroideries on the furniture were done by Copenhagen women, and it was an obvious choice to continue this thinking when we needed cushions for the kindergarten children. For us at the museum it has been exciting to watch the making of the cushions and see Thor¬vald¬sen’s familiar universe reinterpreted in the ITMV participants’ designs and embroideries.”
For Drude-Katrine Plannthin, project director and designer at ITMV, it is about more than design. Sustainability, environment and local production are also important elements:
“The whole idea of this fantastic collaboration is not only that the children should have some fine cushions to sit on; but also to provide support for elements that reach out in a far wider perspective such as sustainability and recycling, which are incorporated in the design. The cushions are made of old garden cushions reupholstered with scrapped sheets. The wool has been donated by the firm Gabriel, which engages in environment-friendly textile production. Finally, an important part of the message is to pinpoint the issues around the shortage of jobs for vulnerable citizens by emphasizing the potential of local production in Denmark.”
On 28 October 2014 at 10:00 a.m. the cushions were presented by the ITMV participants at a reception at Thorvaldsens Museum.