Home Is Where: Hannah Ryggen

Home Is Where is a festive archive project exploring home and belonging. This post is by Jimi, Modern Art Oxford’s Retail Assistant and volunteer, who is also studying for an MA in Publishing

In recent months, for many of us, Home Is Where we have been while witnessing global history taking place.

For Hannah Ryggen, home was a place of work, both for her livelihood as a subsistence farmer and as an artist. It was also her vantage point as she saw the Second World War tear apart her community and the world around it.

From 1924, Ryggen and her husband Hans made their home in Ørlandet, a remote region of Norway. Geographically distant from many major world events, Ryggen was constantly engaged with what was happening. Her tapestries, usually woven with thread and dye made by the artist from materials she had at hand, made these tragic historical events feel present to me as I walked through the 2017-8 Modern Art Oxford exhibition of her work. While I am separated from those events by time, as she was often by distance, her art confronts the viewer with an immediacy that causes one to experience fresh feelings about this so-familiar history.

This reminder of the extraordinary nature of a history which risks becoming ordinary in our memories is reflected in the extraordinary life lived by Ryggen in her home – a place that could easily be mistaken for ordinary.

Home Is Where is our second festive archive project created by volunteers and front of house staff. Designed to inspire hope and positive change for the times ahead, this year’s theme focuses on home and belonging.