Martine Myrup can never get enough of textiles. Preferably surplus industrial textiles or tablecloths and dresses with a history of lived life and bygone parties. Simple and rustic textiles or textiles with patterns and colours verging on the tacky, which she transforms into unique, aesthetic and serial designs.

By Charlotte Jul

‘I chose the urn as my form, because I have always been fascinated with vessels, and I think that the urn shape is incredibly beautiful; it’s more than just a jar.’ Martine Myrup is not like others. Others might think that choosing an urn typology might evoke morbid connotations and be slightly taboo. Not Martine, although she does bring textiles back to life in her designs, in a concrete as well as a metaphoric sense.

Martine has always been fascinated with textiles and liked to sew. But until ten years after her graduation, she never imagined that she would include textiles and sewing in her artistic work. ‘I was living in Canada when I inherited a large collection of porcelain from Denmark, and that sparked the idea of creating a replica that resembled porcelain but in a flexible material that would travel better.’ That idea travelled far indeed and led to the beginning of Martine’s work on textile urns. Over the past foyr years, the idea has been further refined with urns in ultra-basic white textiles that she hand-dyes and other objects made from surplus industrial textiles. ‘I have always enjoyed making something from something else. Transforming existing things, because I find it difficult to defend the notion of designing new stuff from scratch when we are surrounded by products everywhere.’

To make the urns Speckled Blue and Speckled Red #01 & #02 for the Danish Crafts Collection, Martine Myrup dyed the textile by hand, with Jackson Pollock perched on her shoulder: She splashed the dye on the fabric in organic patterns, which lends the urns and the nearly 50 four-sided patchwork pieces a tie-dye effect, where the colour scintillates and gradually fades. Like blue dots that give a nod to the hand-painted blue fluted china from Royal Copenhagen. As an implicit homage to her own favourite colour and, not least, Japanese culture that has always held her fascination.

There is a grandmother lurking inside Martine. A grandmother with flower print dresses, pink high-heeled shoes and oversize rhinestone sunglasses. A grandmother who is also used to making the most of small means and who sees a potential in things that others pass over. Martine Myrup is old-school in her own new school, where low-status textiles such as non-designed white textiles, surplus fabric from industrial production and tablecloths, dresses and bed linen all turn into one-off designs sewn by hand with architectural accuracy, clever craftsmanship and ingenious inventiveness. ‘My first pieces revolved around the reference to porcelain and my heirloom dinner service. The textile had a clear reference to porcelain in its surface, blue colour or patterning.’

Later, Martine’s overriding idea of recreating ceramic archetypes, such as the urn, the jar or the cylinder, in a different material, such as textile, developed into a subtle meta-game with slightly looser categories. Where the urns upcycle low-status materials such as recycled and surplus industrial textiles into one-off objects of art, designed with precision and aesthetic aplomb.

Martine finds inspiration in old-fashioned low-tech methods such as patchwork and the idea of extending the life of a dress or a tablecloth with a hole or a stain, stretching the fabric to make a vessel. Arte Povera and Moroccan Boucherouite rugs, made of strips of discarded clothes, also come to mind as potential references. And then again, not, because Martine Myrup’s background as a sculptor guides her into a three-dimensional domain with an architect’s spatial approach. Because it is interesting that the objects do not have a back. Because it is challenging that the urn can only achieve a certain size, because that is how far that piece of fabric will go. Because it is a demonstration of exquisite craftsmanship to go all the way, creating graphic and harmonious objects from textiles that are sometimes tacky and perhaps less aesthetic.