Lokal Creators / Outi Martikainen

Outi Martikainen is a Helsinki-based textile artist known for her striking large-scale woven images, as well as her distinct knowledge and use of her material. Lokal has regularly been showing her work, since our very first exhibitions.

We interviewed her to find out more about her production process, and to learn about the background of the Itkupaju (Weeping Willow) piece in the Itkupaju exhibition at Lokal 18.11.2020 – 23.1.2021.

Lokal Creators / Outi Martikainen

Outi Martikainen is a Helsinki-based textile artist known for her striking large-scale woven images, as well as her distinct knowledge and use of her material. Lokal has regularly been showing her work, since our very first exhibitions.

We interviewed her to find out more about her production process, and to learn about the background of the Itkupaju (Weeping Willow) piece in the Itkupaju exhibition at Lokal 18.11.2020 – 23.1.2021.

What is your design and production process like?

“The design process is a two-step process. The base often is a picture or drawing onto which I start building intersections of vertical and horizontal wires. The final image for the weave is converted into a file which, when read by a computer attached to a jacquard weaving loom, reads and lifts the yarns according to my plan. I also design the weaving material itself, which is a focus of my work. The weaving has a particularly peculiar three-dimensional surface, and this is accentuated by strands of monofilament threads of different colours braided into the 30-50 mm thick yarns. When viewed from different angles, the work transforms. Especially the woven works with reflective threads reflect light in the direction of the viewer.

I am fond of the interplay of synthetic fibres and light. I have acquired the fibres from weaving factory surplus, a kind of waste material. By combining them differently I create an own distinctive colour palette for each individual piece. The design process is often lengthy, and all the changing factors need to be anticipated before weaving; such as colour relationships and yarn binding points. The actual weaving I then called a dance. A digital jacquard weaving machine is like a large music box, where the thread-lifting rivets are like grand piano contacts. Jacquard weaving differs here from the tapestry technique, in that the weaving takes place line by line, growing vertically, and not by separately picking out a single part of the image.”

What is the story behind the Weeping Willow (Itkupaju) piece, and what is its significance to you?

“Looking at Weeping Willow now, I am in my mind inevitably brought back to my worried thoughts and concern for the state of the environment and the destruction of many species. To counterbalance that, I wanted to emphasise beauty. A few years ago, a little melancholically, I sat on a bench in the middle of a beautiful park. As I sat there, I enjoyed the beauty of the giant weeping willows in the park, and the flowing movement of their foliage. The twigs were like protective, waving hands, like a grandmother’s lap. In the exhibition, I hope it created in the space the same atmosphere from that very moment in the park, also bringing light through the reflective material woven into it, among other things.”

 

What important principles do you have in the design of works?

“Perhaps the most important thing in my work is the material itself. Sometimes it even feels like the material might even top the presentation. It is interesting to work with textile, as a material, because it creates the impression of home and handicraft, but at the same time I can combine it with digital work, which brings an element of the unknown to it. The images and subjects come from me, as I process subjects that evoke feelings in me. The material, on the other hand, gives the works a distinctive and robust handprint.”

Shop: Outi Martikainen’s Work

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