Summary: The primary method in Ludmila Christeseva’s curatorial research into artisan know-how is the act of joint weaving. She aims to comprehend why weaving and other crafts have never been a viable source of income for many women across generations and cultures, despite the persistent practice. The research involves engaging with scholars globally, including those from Stockholm University, Yale School of Medicine (Yale University), IHM Business School (Stockholm), Queensland University of Technology (Australia), and curators from renowned institutions such as MOMA and the MET in the United States, Nordiska Museum, Nobel Museum, and many others. Christeseva delivers lectures and conducts weaving workshops, sharing her professional insights on crafts as an empowerment strategy to cultivate a more balanced and sincere world—one enriched with harmony, opportunities, and understanding.

Written by: Konca Yumlu

Tons of recycled textiles and clothes from Swedish, Turkish, American, and many other homes serve today as material for women around the world to connect, understand, and support each other.

The “Home” weaving workshop began in August 2022 with an aim to connect Belarusian female artists and Turkish rural women in a sincere dialogue during the artist in residency stay in Urla, Turkey. Crafts were used as a language for participants to share their experiences of being women, mothers, and sisters – and to facilitate an understanding of each other. 

Image 1. Konca Yumlu (Turkey), Ludmila Christeseva (Belarus/Sweden), and Belgin Narci (Turkey) weave the net HOME together with other women at Cumartesi Kadın Üretici Pazarı, Urla, Eski Tamirhane Binası. Photo: Olga Borushko (Belarus).

The workshop “Home” is a logical continuation of a series of textile workshops the Belarusian/Swedish artist Ludmila Christeseva organised for Ukrainian refugees during the Spring of 2022 as a curatorial response to the current war in Ukraine. The goal was to enable a meeting between Ukrainian and Swedish families through the language of crafts. Together, the participants wove camouflage nets with recycled textiles to save the lives of husbands, fathers, and sons, which demonstrates how vital crafts are and have been through generations and cultures. Without speaking the same language, the artist could witness how friendship and integration became possible through the mere act of creating together.  

While Ukrainian sisters continue to intertwine recycled textiles from Swedish homes with their grief and loneliness to support their families in the war, Christeseva meets women around the world who find the process of designing for their homes and families as a way of expressing themselves creatively. For them it is both a duty and a pleasure.  Such self-expression, however, has never been a feasible source of income. This has not changed for generations and has led Christeseva to place her curatorial focus on artisan know-how and female creativity, prompting learning through doing and creating.  

Can women from different cultures come together and use traditional craftsmanship as a platform for learning, inspiration, empowerment and collaboration? How do I meet other women and connect with them? asked Christeseva.

Gradually, a strong and symbolic project has emerged, full of hope and optimism: Crafts that unite, heal, and last. With support from the Swedish Institute Creative Force Grant Program, Christeseva engaged in dialogue with her international colleagues: Belarusian gender expert Irina Solomatina, Turkish colleague Konca Yumlu, Swedish professor of fashion- and film- studies Louise Wallenberg, and the Swedish cultural producer Ulrika Skoog Holmgaard. She also invited Belarusian artists to Turkey for an artist in residency program where they met and crafted together with Turkish urban women. In a naturally preserved 45-acres land surrounded by pine forests in the Kuşçular district of Urla, the artists were welcomed by the founding director of K2 Contemporary Art Center Ayşegül Kurtel to K2 Breathing Zone for inspiration.

In the middle of this picturesque landscape, the Belarusian artists were taken care of by two local women, Belgin Narci and Seyhan Aydin, who would cook and serve delicious Turkish meals for them. No one could ever have imagined, that things could be turned upside-down in a such a short period of time, but so it did and after only one week of the residency. On the 28th of August, the Belarusian artists and Swedish experts would take over the kitchen and cook for their new friends the best recipes from their homes thereby sharing the experiences of being women, wives, and sisters. The performance dinner was served in the middle of the field full of eggplants, paprikas, and fresh tomatoes under a pine tree. The Turkish urban women eagerly invited their best friends to share the experience – Zeliha Aka and Elif Güçlü Ok.  

Women weave together for peace and freedom.
Image 2. Tulay Dinc, Selma Arslan, Belgin Narci, Ulrika Skoog Holmgaard, Seyhan Aydin, Elif Güçlü Ok, and Zeliha Aka at the dining table under a pine tree, August 2022. Photo: Olga Borushko.

This would lead the international team to the next chapter of the project – when Turkish women would invite them to visit a Women’s Saturday market in Urla – Cumartesi Kadın Üretici Pazarı, Urla, Eski Tamirhane Binası – to explore delicate handicrafts, canning, jams, lemonades, and delicious Turkish pastries like baklava. There, they met with many female entrepreneurs including Berna Sen Senol and Dicle Incal, which would lead them next to a study visit of a female village in Ekoköy, and also to an agricultural farm, Urlaroots, run by Hulya Kazmirci. 

Belarusian artists met and inspired Turkish rural women.
Image 3. The Belarusian artists are proud to serve Belarusian Draniki for international guests. The Belarusian folk music is on. August 2022. Photo: Olga Borushko.

Thus, moving from one invitation to another, the Belarusian artists and Swedish experts would weave together with Turkish women, standing as one in solidarity, a huge textile sculpture: the net entitled “Home”, a net full of hope and optimism.

Crafts would become their language for sharing their experiences of being women, wives, sisters, and daughters in different cultural contexts. This handiwork even encouraged local men to participate and weave a band and they discovered the feeling of belonging to a certain nation or culture, as well as the experience of breaking away from one culture and committing yourself to another. They also embraced the myriads of other yet-to-be discovered cultural traits, tastes, and experiences. What comprises us as individuals in this collective global world, full of constant traveling, and in the current landscape of increasing human migration and armed conflicts? Where is HOME?  

Belarusian women explore Turkish crafts and design.
Image 4. The Belarusian artists explore Turkish fashion and textiles during their shopping in Urla. Photo: Olga Borushko (Belarus).

While these questions remain rhetorical, a strong and symbolic project has evolved, continuing to inspire and empower women worldwide towards visibility and success: Crafts that unite, heal, and last. Ludmila Christeseva is exhibiting the Home, a 3 x 4 meters textile artwork, globally. She introduced the project within the framework of the performance festival ‘In the Act of Weaving,’ directed by Nefeli Oikonomou (Greece). In the fall of 2022, Christeseva showcased the artwork at Mana Contemporary as part of the ESKFF Foundation’s artist-in-residency program and at Times Square (USA). The pivotal success came when Christeseva was invited to showcase her project at the Swedish Armoury Museum (Livrustkammaren) in spring 2023 during Stockholm Design Week 2023. Proudly, she invited several international female artists to participate in the exhibition.

Image 5. Aysegul Kurtel, Irina Solomatina, Konca Yumlu, Seyhan Aydin, Ludmila Christeseva, and Belgin Narci are holding proudly the textile artwork HOME, handmade together. Photo: Olga Borushko (Belarus).

In the fall of 2023, Ludmila Christeseva continued to weave alongside feminist activists at the Filia Conference. There, she introduced ‘Feminist Patterns: Weaving Together Solidarity and Strength.’ At that juncture, she stood in solidarity with her 19-year-old daughter, anticipating the positive changes they could craft together for our world marked by divisions of poverty and wealth, war and peace.

This textile movement is run by Ludmila Christeseva with women around the world for peace and freedom.

Crafts Unite, Heal, and Last

Swedish Institute Grant program, art, culture, women, empowerment, sisterhood.

Belarusian artists in exile joined the artist in residency. Together with the Turkish and Swedish sisters, they initiated the project on joint textile camouflage weaving of the artwork HOME.

Through joint weaving, women connect, support each other and share success!