The wall sculpture Insula by the Norwegian artist Gjertrud Hals is an organic grid structure of metal thread covered with multiple layers of paper pulp. « Insula », the Latin word for island, also refers to Insular Cortex, a central structure deep inside the brain believed to be involved with consciousness and plays a role in diverse functions usually linked to emotion and perception. It probably contributes to our perception of ourselves as isolated creatures and to our consciousness of the “self”, and in the word of the artist – » Insula is an image of the human nervous system, abstracted into a square ».
Gjertrud Hals is considered as one of the redefining figures of textile art, liberating fiber from the loom and displaying it in space as three-dimensional sculpture. Her works have been acquired by private and public collections, such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; The Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York; The Museum of Decorative Arts, Lausanne, Mobilier National Les Gobelins and the Bellerive Museum in Zürich.
In 1987, Gjertrud Hals was granted First Prize in the Metro Arts International Art Competition in New York, followed by the Grand Prix in the Kyoto International Textile Competition in 1989.
Gjertrud Hals’ upbringing on the little island of Finnøya is profoundly anchored in her art, and her relationship to the region’s nature and culture is deep and complex. Hals focuses on natural fibers that she transforms through various techniques including weaving, knitting, casting, spraying and cutting. Trained in the art of tapestry-weaving in the 1970’s, Gjertrud Hals’ interest in feminism and women’s culture associates her with the new wave of women artists exploring the sculptural potential of textile.
Gjertrud Hals’ art, both literately and symbolically. Many of her works are formed of structures made of cotton and linen crochets covered with paper pulp or resin. Often strange little objects, objets trouvés, such as animal skeletons, plants and branches are combined with metal wires or bound with papier mâché. They look a bit like the kind of “treasures” children might find. Like a spider’s web, these weavings seem to capture the traces of life as time goes by, or as Gjertrud Hals puts it “With the number of things happening in the world today, it feels right to focus on a small segment by conserving a part of it.”
Like small micro-cosmoses, inspired by mythological story-telling and children’s worlds, Gjertrud Hals’ works seem to possess their own laws and logics, moving somewhere between delicate neatness and unrestrained inspiration. In the words of the artist, they propose a reflection “…on the relationship between nature and culture, in which the lives of modern humans are moving between chaos and order. Forces of nature and war create chaos, after which a new order is elaborated, always both the same and a little bit different than the previous.“