WHAT COULD BE TOUCHED AND THAT BEYOND

Form, movement, and materials are the tools of Diana Orving’s trade: the Swedish textile artist expresses herself through a dynamic interplay of techniques, material choreographies and animism to find the interconnectedness of all things and beings.

Diana, how do you balance control and unpredictability within your objects?

In the initial stages of a new piece, I typically have a starting point—a material, a tactile sensation, or a shape that intrigues me. However, as the sculpture or painting evolves, it takes on a life of its own with its own will, energy, and story to tell. At this point, I need to let go of my preconceived notions and be receptive to the work finding its own shape through my hands. It’s as if my hands tap into a place deep within me that is otherwise inaccessible.

With your background in the fashion industry, what role does craftsmanship play in your creation of textile sculptures, and how has your skill evolved?

Being self-taught, my background in fashion allowed me to develop a unique technique in pattern construction. This involved draping fabrics on my own body or using friends as mannequins. I consider pattern construction a form of mobile or fluid architecture— volumes in constant change and a space for the body. The countless hours spent sewing and working with textiles have provided me with an intuitive knowledge stored in both my body and mind. Inspired by exploring the formulas behind a beautiful line, I am intrigued by the dynamics of how angles and curves interact differently depending on the material used to form a three-dimensional shape. Sculptural works, more than clothing items, represent ever-fluctuating volumes and three-dimensional abstracts that occupy space. I´ve always felt I wanted to go further, express myself more, spend more time at it, and make larger and more complex shapes than what I was restricted to when working with garments.

Focusing on your thematic exploration of motherhood in your work, are there any historical stories related to motherhood that have inspired your work, or is your source always personal?

My art is deeply personal, rooted in a woman’s perspective. While themes of pregnancy and childbirth have prominently featured in my recent work, the inspiration is drawn from my personal experiences. However, these experiences often resonate with universal aspects shared by women across time.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished installing a significant work that has been my main focus for a long time—an expansive, site-specific sculpture titled ”What could be touched and that beyond”, for the Museum of Textiles in Borås, Sweden. The sculpture, reaching a height of 10 meters, is crafted from jute and an old mesh made of copper thread that I discovered in the museum’s storage during an earlier visit this year. The element in jute, starting from the floor, extends like a tapering tree trunk, reaching toward the highest point of the room. The “tree” serves as a symbol of life force, connecting to the earth, the body, and nature—essentially, the tangible elements within our reach. Contrastingly, the transparent cloud in copper mesh represents the intangible—the realm of thoughts, dreams, imagination, the soul, and the immeasurable. It hovers, shimmering in the air, just beyond our grasp, symbolizing the aspects of existence that elude the sense of touch and inhabit the ethereal spaces of our consciousness.

As a final thought, how do you remain connected to your roots while embracing the future?

Having children has had a profound impact on me personally. It’s akin to rediscovering my inner child, reconnecting with what is essential and pure. This includes playfulness, fantasy, vulnerability, and viewing the world with a renewed perspective. Embracing a childlike approach, I aim to stay present, observing the intricacies of nature, from ants moving on the ground to the whispers of trees.

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Bio

Diana Orving is a Swedish artist born in 1985. She works predominantly with textile sculptures and paintings. Her works delve into themes such as origin, memory, and the subconscious.

Orving’s creative process involves a dynamic exchange between various techniques, materials, and formats, encompassing textile sculptures, paintings, and costumes. By exploring the symbiotic relationship between the tactile and the visual, as well as the interplay between the body and space, Orving’s work delves into the intersection of emotion and thought.

Guided by her hands, Orving approaches form as if the sculptures were organic beings with their own will and temperament. The flowing seams in her pieces echo elastic and living lines, reminiscent of blood veins or tree branches.

Through her art, Orving seeks to express and comprehend states of mind, relationships, and mental and physical processes through form and movement. The lightness of textiles enables her to work on a grand scale, often leading to a sense of being overpowered by the volume. In this state of relinquishing control, something exhilarating emerges—an element of uncertainty and unpredictability that she finds alluring.

Employing a choreographic approach, Orving uses her sculptures to portray relationships, conflicts, fears, and longings. Her work captures a profound sense of interconnectedness, emphasizing that one is not an isolated entity but rather a small part of a larger system.

Diana Orving resides and works in Stockholm. Her works have been exhibited at, among others, Tempesta Gallery in Milan, P Gallery in Palma, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Galleri Arnstedt, Varbergs Konsthall, Nordiska Galleriet, Sven Harrys Konsthall, Liljevalchs Konsthall, and Gustavsbergs Konsthall. Prior to her career as an artist, Orving gained recognition as a fashion designer, collaborating with the Royal Opera in creating dance costumes. In 2017, she received the Designer of the Year award from Elle Magazine. Furthermore, Orving’s site-specific draperies and textile sculptures can be experienced at the acclaimed restaurant AIRA in Stockholm and the Museum of Textile in Borås, Sweden.

Credits

Artist / Diana Orving

@dianaorving

Interview / @khynko

Photo credits:

DO_bag of work / Photo Erik Lefvander

”Becoming”, textile sculpture in jute, photo Sarah Indriolo

”Becoming”, textile sculpture in jute, 2022, photo Tempesta Gallery

”Being, red”, 2023, textile sculptures in silk, photo Jonas Ingerstedt

”Cocoon, stretched”, textile sculpture in silk and steel, 2023, photo Diana Orving

”Cocoon”, textile sculpture in silk/ metal, 2023, photo Jonas Ingerstedt

”Dancers”, sculpture in iron-mesh, 2022, photo Diana Orving

”Entourage”, Textile sculpture in cotton gauze, 2021, photo Galleri Arnstedt

”Fragments of a tree”, textile sculptures in jute, 2023, photo Jonas Ingerstedt

”Slow motion” + ”Unseen”, textile sculptures in jute, 2023, photo Diana Orving

”What could be touched and that beyond”, textile sculpture in copper-mesh, jute, iron chain-link, 2023, photo Malena Karlsson

Videos:

Exhibition at Tempesta Gallery, Milan, 2022, photo: Nicola Biscaro

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