Six Years In the Making, the Elaborate ‘Grand Jardin’ by Lisa Nilsson Pushes the Boundaries of Paper
Lisa Nilsson (previously) has spent years perfecting a technique known as quilling in which thin strips of paper are rolled into coils and then pinched and nudged into shape in a process she likens to completing a puzzle. With a history thought to extend back to Ancient Egypt, the practice rose to more recent popularity in 18th century Europe. Narrow edges of gilt book pages were a popular material, creating metallic surfaces when rolled into place. In her most recent work, “Grand Jardin,” Nilsson has expanded upon this traditional method by building up more dense applications of the medium and assembling on a much bigger scale. Combining shimmering gold pieces with vivid hues of Japanese mulberry paper across the surface, the ubiquitous material transforms into a remarkable topography.
Taking several years to complete, she paid painstaking attention to the complexities and details of the design, balancing intricate organic shapes with precise geometric patterns, all while preserving the composition’s overall symmetry. “The phases of my creative process—as it progressed from the initial spark of inspiration to settling in to work, to decision-making and problem solving, to finding flow, losing flow and finding it again, to commitment and renewal of commitment—were repeated many times over the six years and within the context of widely varying moods,” she tells Colossal.
Brimming with floral motifs and butterflies and contained within an ornate border, the lush details of “Grand Jardin” emerge in the textures of each group of coils and in the intricate shapes of the flowers and foliage. Inspired by the patterns and process of making Persian rugs, Nilsson sees parallels between weaving and quilling, and is amused by the nature of improvisation in a process that is so slow-moving and meticulous. “Having a working relationship with one piece for such a long period of time brought novel thoughts and emotions and required new things of me as an artist and as a person,” she says.
You can find more information on Nilsson’s website.
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A Vintage Rug Covers the Interior of a Mercedes in Opulent Patterns
After spending a few years hauling and selling antique rugs from its trunk, a vintage Mercedes underwent a lavish makeover with one of the plush textiles. A project of photographer and designer Mikael Kennedy, the luxury model is lined with pieces of a Farahan rug that covers its floorboards, trunk and subwoofer, and rear deck, adding colorful, ornate patterns to the otherwise streamlined interior.
The retro revamp was part of Kennedy’s decade-plus repair of the vehicle and a collaboration with a professional upholsterer, who aligned the motifs under the dash and centered the main design in the trunk. “He also told me he had broken three pairs of $100 scissors in the process. Persian rugs are clearly built to last, just like a diesel Mercedes,” Kennedy wrote in Wm Brown Magazine. “All cars of any value should be sculptures, works of art that carry the spirit of their owners.”
In addition to running his Los Angeles-based shop King Kennedy Rugs, Kennedy is working on a similar customization for a Porsche 911. He’s also been transforming the carpets into garments and shoes, which you can see on Instagram.
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Ornate Rugs by Artist Faig Ahmed Ooze Onto the Floor in Drippy Fabric Puddles
Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed (previously) has amassed a staggering archive of sculptural carpets that blur the boundaries of digital distortion and traditional craft techniques. Often monumental in scale, his fringed rugs are woven with classic, ornate patterns on top before they billow into a pool of glitches and skewed motifs.
Ahmed weaves conceptual and historical relevances into his most recent trio, which is on view as part of his solo show PIR at New York’s Sapar Contemporary through January 6, 2022. Each piece draws its name from a spiritual leader who profoundly impacted Azerbaijani culture, including Shams Tabrizi, Yahya al-Shirvani al-Bakuvi, and Nizami Ganjavi. The carpet inspired by Tabrizi, who was Rumi’s mentor, for example, “gradually dissolve(s) into a black woolen space of nothingness, much like the final stages of a mystic’s spiritual journey: annihilation (fana’) of one’s individual ego within the divine presence, like the flame of a candle in the presence of the sun.”
Visit Ahmed’s site to see behind-the-scenes photos of his process and to explore a larger collection of his fiber-based sculptures.
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Life-Sized Wildlife Protrude from Ornate Rugs in Perspective-Bending Sculptures
A new menagerie of polar bears, stags, and kangaroos resemble typical wildlife except for the fact that they’re literally swept under the carpet, their features hidden from view. These towering sculptural forms are by artist Debbie Lawson (previously), who crafts animals that are cloaked in sweeping Persian rugs. Rather than being camouflaged by a forest, jungle, or snow-covered Arctic, Lawson’s creatures boldly protrude from the fabric and loom over the viewer.
In her process, Lawson sculpts the animals from a combination of chicken wire and masking tape. She then layers luscious carpets across them, creating the illusion that these animals are about to jump, walk, and prance out of the fabric. This method is derived from what Lawson describes as her ability to spot hidden images in floors, textured walls, and various patterns, an interest that’s mirrored in her perspective-altering sculptures that appear to leap out from the gallery’s walls.
Peek inside Lawson’s studio and find a larger selection of her carpeted creatures on her site and Instagram.
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Art Craft Design
Lush Tufted Tapestries Document Ecological Changes in Argentina’s Landscapes
Artist Alexandra Kehayoglou (previously) creates exquisite pieces of flowing textiles that reference the rugged landscapes of her homeland, Argentina. In the creation of each tapestry, Kehayoglou transforms surplus carpet fabric into natural elements that range from a spectrum of Earth-colored mosses to clusters of trees and serpentine rivers that cut through the heart of her weaves. Entwined within each piece are fragments of the artist’s own memories, including witnessing waterways slowly recede and the alterations to Argentina’s grasslands.
Her latest works, a series called Prayer Rugs, depict animal footprints and small vegetative features of the Parana Wetlands located 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In recent years, the region’s biodiversity has been decimated by the wood and paper industries, which have facilitated the growth of non-native plant species that have since spread out of control. Additionally, human-made fires wreaked havoc during 2020, while livestock simultaneously trampled the once-luscious grassland.
Kehayoglou’s pieces document the foliage that has survived after years of this widespread exploitation and how, over time, local fauna has started to reappear: thistles grow through cracks in the dry Earth, deer leave mud-splattered tracks, and chirping insects dance upon youthful leaves. The artworks narrate the wetland’s change and growth, reflecting the pain caused by capitalism while turning the need for change into tapestries that reference Argentinians’ hope. Kehayoglou says:
Isolation made me think of my carpets as spaces where new forms of activism could be enacted. A type of activism that instead of focusing on paranoid conflict was silent, absorptive and, as I believe, more effective. My carpets, thus, became instruments for documenting ‘minor’ aspects of the land, which were otherwise overlooked as irrelevant. A focus on its micro-narratives that would open new doors for possible ecological futures.
You can see more of the artist’s rich tapestries on her website and Instagram.
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Piped in Geometric and Ornate Patterns, Buttercream Blankets Shag Cakes by Alana Jones-Mann
Los Angeles-based designer and stylist Alana Jones-Mann (previously) pipes thick buttercream onto her layered cakes, creating pastries that are closer in resemblance to lush floor coverings than typical birthday fare. From high-pile, ornate sheets to vibrant geometric rounds, the pointillist-style cakes often have a retro aesthetic that evokes either classic shag rugs or the psychedelic, wall-to-wall carpet popular in the 1970s.
To try your hand at similarly luxuriant frosting, Jones-Mann shares a range of DIY projects and glimpses her process on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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