With one foot in the world of handicrafts and folk art and the other standing firmly in the rich soil of the critique of consumption, Johanna Törnqvist not only merges tradition and contemporary society but also places her finger on how we value the materials of our time. She flirts with folk costume and its history but simultaneously goes against it in a borderland between crafts, handicrafts, fashion and art. In her work she finds nuggets in the act of reuse, in the material that has been left over. With high craftsmanship she transforms it into something refined and beautiful, often with care and consideration.
For example, Törnqvist’s jewellery and collars have a dual expression: on the surface they are beautiful in her colourful folklore interpretation. But underneath lies a questioning, perhaps due to the somewhat surprising and tender treatment of the scraps that comprise the material. She says that her ideas often start in the material itself: gift ribbons, textiles, paper, laces. Or why not packing tape, foal foils, protective mesh sleeves for bottles, coffee packets, crisps packets and oilcloths.

In her latest project “Project Precious Trash”, she takes the step to becoming involved in the contemporary debate about what we are using and how we regard our resources. Even though crafts have previously used as their starting point the original material – wool, clay, wood – it is mainly something else that people today have never-waning access to: trash. In “Project Precious Trash” Johanna Törnqvist raises ideas about consumption and sustainability and creates in her sharp-eyed way a contrast – provocative to many people – between the perishability of trash, the precision of needlework and the durability of crafts.
Text: Frida Arnqvist Engström.