Icelandic wool art hits New York

Woolly Icelandic sheepVik Prjonsdottir, a group of Icelandic designers, launched their woolen art products at a cocktail party at Scandinavian Grace in Brooklyn last week. The exhibition of Icelandic wool-based art will be on display at the gallery until September 26th.

The exhibition seeks to refashion the traditional image of the wool industry in Iceland, bringing it into the realm of art by incorporating tradition with the unconventional.

The press release for the exhibition explains that the design group uses myths and customs from Iceland, as well as the regions climatic considerations when producing their designs. Some of the works on display include the Beard Cap, a hat with a knitted mustache, and the Twosome Blanket, a large knitted blanket with holes and hoods for two heads.

Designers Brynhildur Palsdottir, Egill Kalevi Karlsson, Gudfinna Mjoll Magnusdottir, Hrafnkell Birgisson, Thuridur Ros Sigurthorsdottir shared their Icelandic heritage and collaborated on the project together, along with Vikurprjon, a well-known producer of knitted items.

When it is not designing high-concept art works from wool, Vikurprjon manufactures clothing from local textiles in a small village in southern Iceland, known as Vik. The company is one of the most well established and trusted of its kind in the country and uses only Icelandic wool in its products. The wool differs from that of other sheep in that it is uniquely adapted to the Icelandic climate and is warm, light and water repellent.

The wool industry in Iceland has a long tradition of hand knitting and pattern making, but a very stagnated image,” adds Hrafnkell Birgisson of Vesturgata 17, a gallery that hosted Vik’s work last year. “The majority of woollen clothes are for tourists – there are many replicas of traditional local clothing sold as souvenirs but there is a definite lack of collaboration between young designers and the wool industry.”