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Hairy Swedish panties sew up artist’s reputation

A pair of knickers made from thousands of strands of human hair has knitted overnight success for its maker. Swedish craftswoman Nina Sparr tells The Local that her efforts mirror a traditional craft that has been popular in her family for centuries.

Hairy Swedish panties sew up artist's reputation
The hairy knickers. Photo: Private
The hairy underwear is currently on display at Konsthantverkarna, an art museum in Örebro in central Sweden, which is currently showcasing the unusual work of Nina Sparr.
 
The 44-year-old says that using hair to make clothes and crafts has been the lifeblood of five generations of her family.
 
“This is not a hobby, it is my professional work,” Sparr tells The Local on Wednesday.
 
“In the old days the people in my small village, Våmhus in Dalarna, used to travel around selling the hair. They used to make socks to keep men out in the forest very warm and dry. My family travelled all the way to Russia and Finland. They were poor and so it was a way to make money,” she explains.
 
“Now I use the same techniques for my art. I chose to make the pants because it's fun to make something unusual that you don't expect you can make out of hair.”
 
Made from thousands of donated strands of human hair that are each 40 centimetres long, the unusual knickers form part of a display at Konsthantsverkarna by Sparr that also includes a hairy princess crown, a vest and jewellery made by Sparr.
 

Swedish craftswoman Nina Sparr who made the pants. Photo: Private
 
The Swedish artist says she has been shocked to see so many people sharing photos and articles about her work this week.
 
“I didn't plan this. I am the kind of person who leads with my heart and I made these [pants] because working with hair is a passion for me. Hair is a very personal thing, so it is interesting to work with.”
 
Despite describing her handywork as art, Sparr admits that she did allow one journalist to try on the underpants over her own and says that the reporter fed back that the clothing was “rather itchy”.
 
“Well, they are not really supposed to be worn. They would be scratchy, like that feeling you get when you go to the hairdressers and the freshly cut hair falls on to your neck,” she says.
 
As for continuing the family tradition, she says that her two-year-old daughter has kept a beady eye on her creations and seems to understand the importance of her craft.
 
“She says a few words together like 'mummy…hair…work!' and so she is paying attention,” Sparr laughs.
 
“But I won't put any pressure on her. It has to be her decision. That was my mother's approach and so I will do the same thing. But I am hopeful!”
 
Sparr's work is set to remain on display at Konsthantverkarna until September 23rd.

OFFBEAT

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim

Police on the island of Gotland removed a public sculpture from the Galgberget nature reserve near Visby on the grounds that it is just too creepy.

Swedish police remove sculpture mistaken for suicide victim
The gallows at Galgeberget. Photo: Artifex/WikiCommons
According to local news site Hela Gotland, someone was out for a stroll on Galgeberget (the Gallows Hill) on Wednesday when they saw what they thought was a body hanging after a suicide. Local police were contacted but when they went to investigate they instead found a sculpture by artist Jessica Lundeberg. 
 
The artwork, entitled ‘The Watcher in the Woods’, is a partially transparent plate sculpture that looks like a spooky little girl. 
 
 
Despite discovering that the suspected suicide victim was actually artwork, police determined that Lundeberg’s piece could scare others and thus took the sculpture down. 
 
“It was decided that if it were to remain, more people would likely be frightened in the same way,” Gotland police spokesman Ayman Aboulaich told Radio P4 Gotland. 
 
Lundeberg told Hela Gotland that the sculpture has been at Galgeberget since a public art project last summer and that this was the first time it had caused any concern. She said ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ was the only piece that was allowed to remain after the end of the project. But now it is there no more. 
 
 
Lundeberg has taken the sculpture back to her studio. While she hopes it will eventually return to Galgeberget, the artist told Hela Gotland it seems unlikely.  
 
She said that the sculpture was damaged by police. 
 
“It was ragged, dismantled and broken. I was horrified when I saw it,” she said. 
 
Police have reportedly promised to pay any necessary repair costs.
 
Although the person who reported the sculpture to the police has not spoken with the media, their jump to conclusions could perhaps be attributed to the nature reserve’s macabre history. Galgeberget is still home to gallows that were used to hang criminals for centuries. The last execution to be held at the site was in 1845, according to Hela Gotland
 
 
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