“If the people of Paradise were to trade, they would trade in fabric.”
Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him
Suád Østergaard is as committed an artist as she is in executing her designs. She is equally inspired by artist-weavers, such as the present-day Jack Lenor Larsen, Vibeke Klint and her own teacher Berit Hjelholt, as she is by great geniuses such as the late Mariano Fortuny or nomadic tradition, but she is also strongly affected by the immediacy of her surroundings.
At present her great inspiration is Norwich itself and its environs, particularly its historic connection to dyeing and weaving. It is that relation that has named many parts of the city, for example Maddermarket where the glorious red dye, which is predominant in Suád’s work today, was sold.
Similarly, city features such as the Wensum river, which mediaeval diarists describe as running red from madder dye, and by which Suád passes each day on her way to the studio, inspire her and have helped in the creation of two of her most recent carpets, “Wensum Running Red” and “Wensum Reflect”.
There are other themes present in the Wensum as it ‘wends’ its way to the coast, for up it came other Danes and Scandinavians bringing with them not only war, but trade and goods from all over the world, for the Vikings were great cosmopolitan connectors of world cultures, revitalising areas remote from each other by their fruitful cross-pollination.
So Norwich inspires her today, just as once before the moor, or “Muir”, of the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides was a key source for her large carpet “Muir Walk”. It was there that she imbibed the deep authenticity of the islanders’ tweeds, just as later she was to drink deeply from the genuine Tartan tradition in the Highlands, and just as she is continually nourished by her innate love of simple, uncluttered and yet elegant design, the minimalism that comes so naturally to Scandinavians.
It is in the natural synthesis of all of these elements that the wellspring for Suád’s work is to be found, woven together with alpaca, silk, mohair, wool, cotton, angora, and handspun yarns, and dyed with vivid natural dyes such as madder, birch and heather. And Norwich is proving a new and very rich phase in that process.