It is a steep climb up from the old town in Granada to Alhambra. We walk where many have walked before us, hunting for traces. Traces of patterns and shapes, which the Moors brought with them from where the Silk Route from Asia meets the Mediterranean.
In Norwegian folk art we can find traces of the Silk Route, that great cultural flood of silk, dyes, the loom, fine ceramics, patterns, ornaments and techniques, spices and more the long way from China to Europe. It was all brought on the backs of camels and mules, over mountains, and across deserts to the coast of the Mediterranean. There, the Moors brought it by ship to, among other places, South-East Spain, where they ruled for 700 years.
Now we are here, and it feels almost magical. The whole workforce at Oleana, about 60 people, puffing up the steep hills to Alhambra.
The greater picture
At the factory, the machines are quiet. We are here to learn something about the patterns we work with every day. There is enough repetitive work in a textile factory, enough pieces to be knitted and pressed, threads to be cut and fastened. Enough stitches to link together, seams to be sewn, buttons to be fastened on, garments to be checked and sent. Day after day, week after week, year after year.
For everyone at Oleana it is important to have these trips in mind, both the ones we have been on, and the adventure and new inspiration we are still to enjoy. The trips help us to understand the greater picture; why we do what we do. They paint a rainbow over the ordinary days, connecting us to our industry’s rich culture.
Having arrived at the fairytale citadel Alhambra, we go into the museum. Solveig and Signe have been here before and know the way. One of the few textile treasures is hidden here; quite small and pale, behind lock and key and glass, but with a pattern, which is the starting point for Oleana’s colourful Alhambra cardigan. It has travelled the long way from inspiration, re-drawing, programming, testing of cut and to the finished cardigan.
Afterwards, we enjoy the rest of the citadel and the gardens. Our guide opens our eyes, and talks about the time when Muslims, Jews, and Christians managed to live together in a fairly peaceful and fruitful co-existence.
Then it is time for an Arabic bath with massage, Spanish food and wine, and flamenco and laughter, before leaving the next day for Cordoba, where the amazing cathedral, which before had been a mosque waits ready for us, with its thousand pillars.