With a wink. Ýrúrarí and her unique recycled jumpers

They have eyes, ears and noses, wear wellies, show their tongue and hold hands, or more precisely, sleeves. The jumpers by Icelandic artist Ýrúrarí, as they are referred to, are true works of art, created in the spirit of sustainable design from recycled materials. They defy consumerism and the clothing industry, which has long been desctructive of the environment. At the same time, it is impossible not to smile sincerely at them.

Ýr Jóhannsdóttir (Ýrúrarí) learned to knit as early as primary school, as it was a compulsory subject in the Icelandic curriculum. She further developed her knowledge of textiles in her later years at the Reykjavík School of Visual Arts and later at the Glasgow School of Art. She is keen to stress, however, that the greatest influence on her work has been her homeland – in Iceland, there is a strong feeling of freedom towards unusual ideas and above-average creativity

What is most important in her work is humour, colours, body movement and the everyday. Her designs wander on the border between casual wear and costume. When the covid-19 virus hit Iceland in 2020 , the artist created colourful knitted masks with a sewn-on exposed tongue. This project allowed for a little more smiles during this difficult time for everyone, and thanks to the uniqueness of each mask, people were happy to wear them even when government restrictions were no longer so restrictive. Today, Ýrúrarí focuses mainly on working with recycled garments and wants to give each fabric a new life. She is inspired by what a particular jumper has experienced with its previous owner, as well as what lies ahead . In the spirit of sustainability, she is also often involved in repairing and mending damaged jumpers, often in a playful way – sewing handmade embellishments and body parts onto them. The creation of each jumper is an artisanal and lengthy process that lasts from a few days to sometimes a few weeks. If the artist does not have a vision in mind for a particular jumper, she puts it away in the wardrobe, only to return to it with a new idea. This makes each piece unique and unrepeatable

Ýrúrarí has a master’s degree in art education and is qualified to teach textile design with students. She emphasises that it is important to be able to share her approach to working with textiles and her awareness of sustainable approaches to the garment industry and recycled clothing with the younger generation . For the past 8 years, she has been an active contributor to arts and culture giving lectures and meetings on knitting techniques, working with textiles and also upcycling. This year , theMuseum Of Design And Applied Art in Gardabaer hosted an exhibition in which the artist presented her new works. Part of the exhibition was interactive in the form of a workshop, where participants could create their own jumpers using textile waste. And during the Icelandic DesignMarch festival, there was a live demonstration where visitors could purchase freshly knitted pizzas by the artist made, of course, from remnants of the Icelandic wool industry

Ýrúrarí currently lives in Berlin. In an interview with Creative Boom magazine, she says that the most important aspect of her work is that it brings her joy. If it stops, it ‘s a sign that something else needs to be addressed, for the time being, however, she tries to bring some humour and colour to her audiences of all ages

text: Karolina Konieczna

Also read: Curiosities | Ecology | Iceland | Blouse | Detail | whiteMAD on Instagram

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