Utskarpen, Rana municipality, Norway
As a four year old girl living in Bavaria, Southern Germany, I often wore my grandmother's slippers made of grass. I remember that she used to smile and say: “My little girl, why do you want to wear these shoes? They are shoes from the wartime''. I did not understand why she said this back then, but I loved the shoes and the smell that reminded me of summer. Later I realized that these were shoes people could make themselves with materials from nature during World War II.
The tradition of using natural materials to make daily life utensils is no longer common in Bavarian culture and knowledge related to materials, tools and techniques is unfortunately gone. As a biologist living in Northern Norway for seventeen years, I became aware of the importance of taking care of materials and old traded knowledge as a part of the landscape around us.
The rush species Carex brizoides is used to make traditional Bavarian "Seegrass”- shoes, but it does not exist in Northern Norway. For making my own pair of shoes, I therefore had to find an alternative material. Carex rostrata is native to the Holarctic fens and is found in wetlands throughout Norway, north to 71 ° N. The plant is 30-80 cm long and 2-3.5 mm wide, it has blue-green leaves and a triangular stem.
Bavarian grass shoe making in Northern Norway is like walking between cultures and being deeply connected to both of my landscapes.