The church interior is one of most exquisite places to create textiles for, a space where craft and spirit form a synergistic architectural whole.
In autumn 2007, Pia Jensen was commissioned to recreate the altar carpet in Hobro Church. The original carpet was worn, and Pia Jensen was commissioned to translate the original embroidered carpet into an identical woven one. This would not only transfer the carpet to a new medium but renew it, as light reflects differently from a woven surface. Pia Jensen would need to dye yarns herself in order to achieve a perfect match for the original colours and weave the new altar carpet based on the original drawing. While embroidery is made with a single thread, the woven version would use three-strand yarn. Given these differences and the basic difference between cross-stitch embroidery and weaving, how could the weaver bring out the same effect?
The antique embroidery yarn had been preserved in a box in the attic. She was allowed to borrow it for inspiration and as a guideline, and after testing 70 dye samples she eventually found the 12 hues she needed. The project took more than 850 hours, from start to finish, and in 2008, the carpet was ready to be revealed. To get there, Pia Jensen had undertaken a working process that included several visits to the church, countless calculations, multiple dyeing tests, the dyeing of 30 kg of yarn and 450 hours at the loom. Quality work and in-depth research take time!
Hobro Church was designed by the Danish architect Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll and built in 1865 on the top of a hill. From outside, it almost resembles a fortress, but inside, one finds a large, open space with a starry vault, an almost Moorish border along the edge of the ceiling and unique carved wooden pews.
For 12 years after its completion, the church was left as Bindesbøll had intended. Gradually, new ideas and interior elements made their way in, until the 1990s, just under a century later, when the parochial church council decided to undertake a major restoration aimed at recreating the original expression. The embroidered carpet dated to 1966 and had been created by parish women based on a drawing by the architect H. G. Skovgaard. The inspiration for his design was the mosaic above the altar in the choir, which had been created by his father’s brother. When the painter and colour designer Arne L. Hansen heard that the council intended to get rid of the old embroidered altar carpet, he objected – fortunately. The altar carpet is perfect for the space, its colour and mood matching the starry vault that had for years been hidden under layers of paint. It was lucky that he stepped in, as his intervention paved the way for Pia Jensen’s 1:1 reproduction of the carpet.