Sunna Helge - Arctic Indigenous Design Archives (AIDA)

Sunna Helge



Helge Sunna was born in 1940 in Leavas Sameby in Giron (Kiruna). He grew up in a family with many well-established craftsmen and innovators of duodji traditions. He and his wife Inga (f. Pejok) are currently resident in Stockholm, where he has his studio in their garage.

Helge Sunna is an artist, writer, innovator and researcher, as well as a valuer of Sami handicrafts on behalf of "Sámi handicraft foundation, Sámi Duodji". Often being duojár means to be multi-skilled with many interests, like Helge Sunna. For him, this has meant both artistic creations and doing development work in the field of duodji. He has described himself as an craftsman and not as an artist. His working process is based on traditions, and he uses traditional materials and methods, but he adds modern thoughts and elements to his creations. This is visible in drums he has made, but also in his design of bowls and knives. To craft "Dat lea vaibmu ašši", something that is done with the heart, "with the hand's skill and the heart's warmth, for the eye's delight". Helge Sunna is active in politics concerning the Sami heritage. He was commissioned by "Sámi handicraft foundation, Sámi Duodji" and by Sámij åhpadusguovdásj to written guidelines for the Sámi Duodji Certificate, approved by the Sami Council. He is the author of the book "Duodji, árbi, arvet- handicraft in the Sámi culture", which was published by "Sámi handicraft foundation, Sámi Duodji" in 2006.

Together with his wife Inga Sunna, he was appointed "Master Craftsman of the Century" by "Hemslöjden" (National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies). The motivation was that they are among Sweden's most skilled craftsmen, who complement each other's expression and create uncompromising crafts, that lasts for generations.

Helge Sunna’s archive consists of sketches, manuscripts and texts. In addition it contains of photographs of duodji and dáiddaduodji, as well as various material samples. The archive also contains material from duodji-related reports, as well as from projects that Helge Sunna has initiated or participated in.