Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse was a textile artist who mainly created textiles with religious themes for use in churches.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse was born in 1925 in Stockholm where she grew up in the Kungsholmen district. Her mother was Lisa Odelqvist, née Karlsson and her father Gustaf Odelqvist was a detective in the Stockholm police force. Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse had little interest in schoolwork, but was fascinated early on by fine yarns and fabrics. After taking her Lower School Certificate at a school in the Vasastan district, she was employed by the army administration (Kungliga Arméförvaltningen) in their fabrics section. In 1944, she started a two-year correspondence course in design at Nordiska korrespondensinstitutet (NKI) in Stockholm, led by the textile artist Edna Martin, who also encouraged her to apply to further education at Högre konstindustriella skolan (HKS, now Konstfack).
To qualify for this, Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse took an evening course at Otte Sköld’s school of painting. In 1946, she was accepted by the two-year education in textiles at Högre konstindustriella skolan. She qualified in 1948 and won a competition the prize for which was permanent employment at Licium, an atelier for church and heraldic art in Stockholm. There she met the artist Sofia Widén, the director and a leading artist, who became her good friend and mentor. The first chasuble that Anna-Lisa Odelqvist designed at Licium went to Botkyrka congregation. She recounted how she had been encouraged by the skillful embroiderer Maja Persson who created the little figure embroidery of St Botvid. In the summer of 1949, Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse was awarded a travel scholarship to Belgium, Holland and France, where Sofia Widén met up with her and showed her the sights in Paris.
Licium was sold in 1951 and amalgamated with Handarbetets Vänner where Edna Martin was the new leader, and Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse went with her. She was not happy at HV Licium however, but took a year off to work at the company AB Perssons Textil at Stureplan where she was made the manager in 1952. When the directorship after Märtha Gahn at AB Libraria, the other major atelier for sacred textile art in Stockholm, was advertised, she applied and was appointed on 1 September 1953. From 1 April 1954, Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse took over the directorship.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse married businessman Alvar Ekström in 1954 in Solna, but the marriage was dissolved in 1959. From that period come textiles signed ALOE. In 1960, she married Sven Kruse, a clergyman in Ramsele, and commuted for many years to her work at Libraria in Stockholm. They had two sons and the son from her first marriage was adopted by Sven Kruse. After her husband’s retirement in 1971, the family settled in Vaxholm and later in Lidingö. There she remained after Sven Kruse’s death although her last winters were spent in Spain.
In 1961, AB Libraria moved their sales premises to the Old Town in Stockholm and in 1962 they acquired roomier exhibition premises in Jakobsbergsgatan. When the enterprise moved to Västerlånggatan in 1969 it was reorganised and Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse was made the managing director for Libraria Konsthantverk AB. In 1980, she left that post but remained as artistic leader until her retirement in May 1985. She continued her artistic work for the rest of her life. Many of her compositions were woven by Ulla Parkdal in Vaxholm, and some were also done at Libraria, but the final big order for a chasuble, stole, antependium and chalice cover in red for Vadstena cloister church was completed by HV Licium soon after her death in 2000.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse continued the renewal of liturgical textile art that had been initiated by Agnes Branting and Sofia Widén at Licium at the beginning of the 1900s among others by means of the blue Lent colour as an alternative to purple. 88 of the 750 chasubles she composed were blue. She adapted the liturgical colour scale in nuances that harmonised with the respective church spaces.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse’s creativity also brought with it a renewal of the décor with both simple, strictly composed and lavishly richly embroidered objects as for example the Kiruna Church’s white chasuble with gold embroidery from 1962. During the 1960s and 1970s, more and more chasubles and antependia were produced in light, hand-woven woollen fabrics instead of the usual silk damask. It is also possible to see that considerably more altar edgings were produced than antependia, often with the instruction “for the whole church year”. Her production consists of over 2,000 church textiles, many for newly built so-called small churches, not least in the Stockholm suburbs, that acquired their first liturgical attire on the occasion of their consecration. Many also received textile decorations in the form of dossals and chancel carpets. Textiles were sent abroad as well, for example to the Swedish churches in New York, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Paris.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse composed ten bishop’s vestments for various Swedish dioceses. All were specially composed, woven in thin wool with elements of gold and silver thread and leather applications. A golden yellow cape and mitre in silk damask from 1958, intended for the church in Southern Rhodesia, were never delivered but sold to Roslagsbro Church in 1966. 24 copes were produced for various congregations in 1957–1987.
One significant assignment was the production of two monumental wall decorations for Uppsala Cathedral in connection with its restauration in 1976, woven by Ulla Parkdal. The Chapel of Peace on the south side has a composition called Korsets armar och fredsduvan, one larger tapestry and two side tapestries in Kilim technique in warm red tones with splashes of silver and gold with embroideries in dark brown, gold, silver and unbleached flax. From a white cross with four arms of equal length, go rays out towards the sides. On these rays wander a swarm of strongly stylised small human figures in towards the midpoint. The Finsta chancel on the north side of the high chancel has wall tapestries, Det dagas, of a completely different character, extremely strict nonfigurative geometrical patterns of squares, rectangles and hourglasses in grey shades from deep graphite towards the west to lighter grey towards the east. They are woven in bound rosepath technique of woollen yarn with strands of silver thread and strips of silver-coloured leather.
Under the leadership of Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse, Libraria started also producing profane decorations in mixed techniques of art-weaving, free embroidery applications in fabrics and silver and gold leather. Her profane production includes a great number of larger and smaller “wall pieces” for public places, for example banks. They are often fabric collages in application embroidery with abstract themes. She worked in those cases from a small sketch that was interpreted directly by herself, or in cooperation with Libraria’s embroiderers. At Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse’s penultimate exhibition at Lidingö city hall in 1997, 24 larger textile pictures were shown.
Anna-Lisa Odelqvist-Kruse died in 2000, at 74 years of age. At her funeral in Lidingö Church, the clergyman wore a golden cope that she had designed. She is buried in Sollefteå Cemetery.