1995 Nel Oudemans

Portrait of Nel Oudemans, Strathbutler Award 1995

Portrait of Nel Oudemans, Strathbutler 1995 (photo – James Wilson)

… fascinated by the endless possibilities in creating woven articles …

Trained in traditional weaving techniques in Norway and Sweden, Oudemans brought her rich knowledge of pattern, technique and cultural heritage with her on immigration to Canada,. Her tapestries range from the traditional Norwegian style to explorations of colour and form. Her fascination with circular shapes illustrates her absolute precision of even tension.

Leaving occupied Holland in 1947, she set up a studio in her Fredericton .home while raising her three children. She devoted the remainder of her life to the pursuit of excellence in her craft. A leader in the craft movements of the 1970’s Oudemans helped organize workshops, exhibitions and major craft sales. She was a founding member of the Fredericton Design Weavers which helped rekindle an interest in the craft. She was a celebrated teacher at the New Brunswick Crafts School and inspired generations of fibre artists. As well as the Strathbutler, Oudemans was awarded the Kjeld and Erica Deichmann Award for excellence in craft.

In 2002, Sheila Mackay established the Nel Oudemans scholarship at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of Nel Oudemans to New Brunswick and Canada’s applied arts field. This gesture of respect marks Oudeman’s long association with the NBCCD and resulting impact on arts education in New Brunswick.

In the artist’s words

When I weave, I explore. My aim is to reach a harmony of colour and design. The textiles I create reflect my state of mind.

I am influenced by many things that catch my interest: exposure to various cultures and their weaving techniques, the seasons of the year and my surroundings. I can be influenced by the colourful world of the Mexican weaves or by hearing the wind blow during a November storm. By taking numerous courses and workshops and by working with other wavers from different countries, I have been fascinated by the endless possibilities in creating woven articles.

Although I was born in Holland, my introduction to weaving was in Scandinavia. There, the style and method of weaving attracted me and formed my basic concept of weaving. The traditional techniques and colours of these Northern countries have been used by local women for centuries as a way of expressing their culture, heritage and environment. They follow the seasons of the year closely, by sheering their sheep in spring, gathering plants to dye in the summer and fall and doing most of their weaving during the winter months when daylight is limited to a few hours per day.

These ancient ways interest me. My purpose is not innovation, but exploration. I explore the techniques and traditions of various cultures in order to express my own experience in textile.

On receiving the Strathbutler

This is a terrific thing that has happened to me. I never thought of rewards, I just enjoyed the weaving (1995)