At first glance, Cecilie Telle’s bags look like small, bulging creatures, tottering on unsteady legs. Their shape stems from the year Telle spent with her family in Kenya when she was eight. She bought her first rattan basket there, with the same creaturely shape. Much of one’s subconscious emanates from their childhood – elusive as memory, Telle’s first rattan basket has since transformed into her woolen “it” bags: equally rotund, no two handmade bags are the same.
The over-the-shoulder Ball Bag in scarlet has a distinctive, almost childlike quality to it. It reminds one of the way we hold onto the sun during the winter solstice, bathing in the warm glow of feeling loved. A shot of endorphin, the ephemeral drapes over us – becomes us.
A Norwegian, Telle has inherited a love of traditional crafts from her grandfather and father, who used to fix cars, build houses and grow food. Handwork was the tapestry of life, but it was also freedom: freedom to make, to create just what one needed. Telle teaches handwork to young adults and children with the hope that they, too, can take ownership of the beauty in the world, “Handwork enables self-reliance. I like to think of it as a life skill, a tool to empower.” There is also something cogent about making things with one’s bare hands – something self-regulating about feeling our way without thinking.
Each bag is handmade by Telle, who is occasionally assisted by a small group of knitters to handle large orders. Every asymmetry reveals Telle’s meditation through placing the ‘act of making’ at the heart of creation. Subtle yet ad hoc, the effect is one of energetic materiality.