German a big fan of fine mats

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Laurenz and Gisela are on a mission to learn about Samoan fine mat weaving.

Laurenz and Gisela are on a mission to learn about Samoan fine mat weaving.

Gisela Wittlund is a big fan of her husband, Laurenz Wittlund, as she shows off her beautiful Greenstone carving necklace to Dear Tourist that her artist husband made for her a while back when they toured New Zealand. 

Both Gisela and Laurenz are creative kindred spirits and it is in that spirit that the couple find themselves in Samoa, a place that Gisela always wanted to come to and Laurenz was more than happy to accompany her.

“My husband is an artist and I am wearing a greenstone carved by my husband when we were in New Zealand. He wasn’t even experienced in this art form – it was breathtaking,” said Gisela.  

“Samoan culture was the main reason that brought us over here. To see some of the traditional ways of Samoa is something that I am interested in. 

“I am especially interested in learning how to weave. I have already had a look at the fine mats but haven’t had the time or the right person to teach me.”

The couple came to Samoa via Vanuatu and they are planning to spend four weeks here and in that time Gisela is hoping to find an instructor on the art of fine mat weaving. 

Laurenz maintains that he is here to fulfill his wife’s wishes and that is to support her creative journey which started off in New Zealand where she first experienced the art of weaving.

“When we were in New Zealand, I picked up some weaving from the Maoris and I loved it,” she said. 

“I almost got addicted. I thought I could learn how to weave in Vanuatu but it was difficult. I got some ideas but I’d really like to take part in a workshop here in Samoa if I could find one just so I could learn in a proper way because I took some seeds of the flax plant from N.Z. and planted it in Germany. 

“It is growing steadily and I’m really proud of it and I’d really like to do some to the weaving in Germany.”

Combing through the markets has been a highlight for Gisela, who has grown to love our style of weaving and also our bright colourful elei print fabrics.

“I am also a fan of the clothes here. Samoa has got the most beautiful fabrics I have ever seen and I have already brought too much material. I appreciate Samoan weaving very much. In the market I have seen very beautiful examples.”

We all came to the same conclusion that Gisela was a Polynesian in her former life and it perhaps explained why she felt such a kinship and recognition of our cultural arts and crafts.

“A highlight for me so far, apart from the weaving, was the Robert Louis Stevenson museum,” said Gisela. 

“We went past the marina reserve and we had a look at the double hull canoe and we were actually invited to come on board and shown around the canoe to the cabins down below where they slept in these tiny beds. I am also a big fan of Samoan outrigger boats - very much so. I would love to make one at home and to carve it myself.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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