Puk Lippmann & Freja Lippmann

Weaver & Nurse

KOKOON Portraits # 14

Kartoffelrækkerne in the eastern part of Copenhagen has set the scene for the Lippmanns for almost half a century. Meet mother and daughter, who marked by separate times and in each manner, unite strength and vulnerability.


What turning points have helped define who you are today?

Freja: Three years ago, I choked on a pea which resulted in a protracted panic attack. I had to learn everything all over - even ordinary stuff like going to the super market by myself. Now and again I still suffer from panic attacks, but that experience has taught me to put my foot down. Consequently, I have gotten to know myself better.

Puk: My generation was very laid-back. We lived from hand to mouth and didn't care about clothes or travels. We did everything differently from our parents. I have experienced many turning points, but becoming a mother at the age of 20 years old to Freja's older brother was the first real one. Mikkel's father and I split a year later and I was alone with my child. I was training to become a weaver but was completely set back. Forget about adolescence - it was all about childcare.

In 1970, when Mikkel was five years old, we moved to Thy-lejren. My parents were quite worried, and on one occasion my mother drove there to collect Mikkel. She drove straight through the camp at 160 km/h in a Volvo estate car with a madras in the trunk lid and said to Mikkel: "Come here, you're coming home with me for Coke and steaks." He got in and they left for Skagen and my parent's summer cottage. I remember walking all the way there to pick him up. It took a week along the shore.

Moving to Kartoffelrækkerne in 1972 marks the second most important turning point. My father thought my son needed a proper 'childhood home' and he offered to buy us a town house - I should pay off 16.000 kr. a year. I found it quite preposterous, but the day we went to see it, everything had just bloomed.

Mikkel took my hand and said: "We could live here", and I answered: "Great, we'll do it!". We have lived here since but in different houses. The community we found here was absolutely fantastic.

Mikkel wasn't keen on the idea of me getting a boyfriend. And he always tried to scare them off. He would sit in the front yard and say: "She's not home. She left and she's not coming back". But eventually the man who would become Freja's father moved in.

When we divorced, the old patriarch (Puk's father, Ole Lippmann, ed.) stepped in again and helped buy him out. Everything should be in order for the sake of the children. He saved me numerous times and I was full of woe, when he passed. Then, I felt lost. My sense of safety vanished and it took year's before I came through to the other side.


What's important to you?

Freja: My children - they are the absolutely most important. But it's also essential to lose control - the better I get at this, the better I feel. It's okay to serve my children Kelloggs Frosties for breakfast sometimes. And I try not to judge and be less discriminating - both to others and myself.

Puk: I wish your generation would dare to dream a little more. Be more curious, learn stuff and not just focus on performing. To keep on dreaming and fantasizing has kept me alive at my darkest hour. I have always laughed at the cliché to live in the moment. But at 72 years old, I must confess; this is the most important. I have only just now realized what it actually means.


When are your limits challenged?

Freja: I wish we had time to dream a little more. What I find challenging is simply a lack of time. I often find the pace too fast. It's hard to be present with a packed calendar. It's not until I find myself on a beach in the summer time, or just outside in nature, that I feel, I am in the moment.

Puk: I always feel challenged when assigned a project. It doesn't come easy to me. And it's a huge challenge each time. I know what I want but I revolve the various options and worries and then suddenly all falls into place.


Have you met a person who made you see things differently?

Freja: Many. As Buddhism says, throughout a life you'll encounter more than 200 people, who'll have something to teach you. That seems plausible to me.

Puk: Yes, I also think I have meet many. I'm very open to learning new things.


Do you cry easily?

Puk: I often cry. I get really emotional watching my children and grandchildren together. I got four girls (grandchildren, ed.). And they'll tease me because I get so emotional.

Freja: I like to cry. It cleanses. Everything that includes water has a cleansing effect. Just like winter swimming, which we both practice.


What tends to annoy you?

Freja: Pictures of perfect sausage rolls on Instagram.

Puk: When 50-year-old men complain they can't find a parking space on my street. So many men talk about parking. Including my son. He says: "I won't visit, because I can't park".


What does your gender mean to you?

Puk: I wanted to be a boy growing up. I played with boys and made hideouts. Forget the dolls. I think, it's because I mostly identified with my father. But of course, I thought about my sex raising my son. He has always been able to cook, wash his clothes and clean. Actually, he loves cleaning. We used to do this every Saturday. Van Morrison on the stereo, scrubbing brushes on the feet and soap everywhere. Afterwards we would visit the public swimming pool to get clean.

Freja: I feel a bit like Puk. Perhaps I would have wanted to be a man. Somehow it seems easier.


What is love to you?

Puk: Give a lot and you'll receive a lot. That's it. Love is everything. Love is difficult.

Freja: It is everything. I wish for a bit more compassion… We need to stop judging each other.


Puk: A corner of my decoration at Copenhagen police quarters Puk: I love guests, who take the time to collect chanterelles
Freja: I work at the gastrointestinal ward at Bispebjerg Hospital and I'm crazy about the anatomy of the intestine. It's an impressively constructed organ Freja: In Greece - wearing Kokoon off course
Puk: If only my backyard was filled with organic vegetables all the time Puk: The Icelandic horse, Gråmus, an eternal source of happiness
Freja: Doing the dishes takes up a lot of my time. In return it's a luxury to eat out of the Blue Fluted Full Lace porcelain from Royal Copenhagen that I inherited from my grandmother Freja: My dog Chewie needs to go for a walk three times a day - and I never regret a single one
"Arv og miljø" by Vigdis Hjort. A wonderful novel about a family and themes like heredity, suppression, accusations and impossible reconciliation. In some ways it reminds me of my own familyFreja: I practice winter swimming at Svanemøllebugtens Vinterbadelaug. It's my favourite spot in Copenhagen. The garden is small and fine. The sauna wonderful and going for a swim here gets me through the dark months
Puk: Colour samples I use in my workPuk: The road to my paradise in Northern Jutland, more precisely Lodskovvad, in Råbjerg