Adventures In Time & Lace – Tarmo Thorström’s Ancient Light

Adventures in Time & Lace

I had been looking for something kind of seasonal for this month’s Adventures In Time & Lace and in my search I came across, and became very drawn to, Tarmo Thorström‘s Ancient Light, a lace light art installation in the Finnish town of Rauma.

Tarmo Thormström is a lace artist. In his biography on his website, Tarmo describes a whole host of reasons behind why he has chosen lace as a medium to work with. He describes lacemaking as a way to express himself. He describes his lacemaking as a “a silent work for the equality of genders and tolerance. In people’s minds lace making is often the work of women. Tarmo’s mission is to make lace loudly so that this old image breaks. Making lace is not a man’s work neither it is a woman’s work. It is open for everyone.” Tarmo states that he “likes to annoy people who have conservative view of  textile crafts and the makers of them. The goal is to get people thinking and breaking their prejudices.”


Tarmo Thorström Lace selfie (2015)
Tarmo Thorström, Lace Selfie (2015) Photo Credit: Tarmo Thorström


Tarmo Thorström Lace artwork installation
Photo Credit: Tarmo Thorström


Tarmo Thorström Heritage (2014)
Tarmo Thorström, Heritage (2014) Photo Credit: Tarmo Thorström


Tarmo’s latest work is Ancient Light, a light art installation projected on to the Old Town Hall in Old Rauma. The Old Town Hall is one of Rauma Museum’s attractions and it houses a vast historical lace collection, including several hundred lace samples. The history and tradition of lacemaking in the town dates back to the 1740s. Tarmo poetically describes his ideas behind the piece. He says “to modern people old lace and the art of making bobbin lace feel like they are from another world, even many light years away. The same way as star’s twinkle has actually happened a long, long time ago, also Ancient light, spectaculum 79 Ceti brings forth, in the form of light, bobbin lace over a hundred years ago.”

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Tarmo Thorström Ancient Light, spectaculum 79 Ceti (2015)
Tarmo Thorström, Ancient Light, spectaculum 79 Ceti (2015) Photo Credit: Tarmo Thorström


I really relate to Tarmo’s description of how lacemaking can feel like it is from another place or time. When demonstrating lacemaking to the public I have experienced those ‘modern’ visitors who look on with fascination and in awe of this traditional craft and watch you as if you are weaving some kind of magic. I love the way Tarmo is projecting a piece of lace history into the present. It also makes me think about how difficult it would have been to for lacemakers to make lace during the winter in a town like Rauma, when daylight hours are few. I imagine lacemakers straining their eyesight, trying to make their intricate lace by candlelight. Ancient Light makes me want to cosy up on a winter’s day and make some lace.

Tarmo’s Ancient Light can be seen during the hours of darkness, appearing as the sun goes down and vanishing as the sun comes up, until February 2016. To see more of Tarmo’s work you can check out his website or his Facebook page.

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