The Deer in Nara Park

My deer interest, in tapestries as well as in reality, is a long story and has everything to do with the 5 years (2012–2017) when I had the privilege to hold Barbro Wingstrand’s Guest Professorship at The Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg. As a research project I followed in the footsteps of deer through cultural history, geography and in my own art practice.

Frida Kahlo had a domesticated deer. I have only wild ones in my garden. In Nara city, close to Kyoto in Japan, the deer is protected. So, I travelled to Nara Park where I had the possibility to approach them and to touch them.

My research on the life and death of deer, zoologically and metaphorically, led me to different places in the world but also to text-based sources, and into all kinds of art. My experiences and thoughts are summed up in text and textile.

The book Gobelängresan – boken om att följa hjortar (The Tapestry Journey – The Book about Following Deer) from 2017 can be downloaded (in Swedish) from GUPEA, Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive. 

A year later the textile, a tapestry 3,25 meters high and 1,40 meters wide, was finished. It was, together with The Graduation Party, commissioned by Uppsala University and is placed in Room X in the main university building. Of course, I named it The Deer in Nara Park. A vision of a safe place – for deer and for the persons portrayed in it.