– Spring/Summer 2018

Stories Created in Stitches

Gunvor Guttorm

Britta Marakatt-Labba, Niegadeapmi (Dreaming), 1999, print, appliqué and wool embroidery on linen, 94 × 65 cm. Courtesy the artist and Sameskolen i Troms, Tromsø

Britta Marakatt-Labba has spent her life stitching together narratives based on everyday events and proverbs from her Sami heritage. Her work unites craft and art, and myth and storytelling, through narrative. While she does not regard herself as a duojár (craftsperson), but as an artist, her artistic vision as well as her materials and techniques derive from craft. To help explain this position, from 1974 to 1978 she attended the Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk (School of Design and Crafts) in Gothenburg, training in different media. She is a member of Sami and Swedish art organisations, and has participated in national and international exhibitions as well as public art projects. Her work is therefore linked both to duodji in its broadest sense (Sami craft, art craft, design and lifestyle) and to art. She chose embroidery as her medium of expression only after attending art school, finding that the other media did not do justice to the stories she held within her. In approaching her work within the duodji tradition, my perspective on duodji and the art-versus-craft debate is based on the experiences of the craftsperson and their relationship to different contexts.

Duodji that is to be used needs to be comfortable. That is, the item should be attractive, practical

  1. Lars Levi Laestadius (1800–61) was a Swedish Lutheran pastor of partly Sami ancestry. From the mid-1840s onward he became the leader of the Laestadian Lutheran revivalist movement. He was also an author, teetotaller and botanist.