This piece is the adult insect, in full flight toward the viewer. It is also a gaze of awareness. I looked to the luna moth for inspiration, who seems to be made of leaves and twigs.
This piece began with one of my favourite disciplines: silk painted quilts.
Finally with an excuse, I began collecting leaves and seeds. This was fall so I had a great colour selection to choose from. After cutting them to shape I applied a sealant for durability. Like this they look almost manufactured.
They were then arranged in a sort of gradient. I loved this part. The sealed leaves felt like leather and had a variability of surface that man-made textiles can’t achieve.
They were quilted in place, a challenge to not push too hard and rip them. Next time I would love to try fresh leaves. I cut out some of the paths so the silk could poke through.
Then came the little tree seeds, all lined up in a row. They remind me of the feathers on a moth’s wings.
Some rigidity along the edge to add curl to the wings, and dimension for the body. Seemingly soft, this creature has pokey edges and stones behind the eyes.
Fragile though she is, she creates a strong shadow, and witnesses all.
I have to say this one is my favourite. It went along swimmingly at every stage. My first step was to draw the dress design, then create a life-size paper mock-up. You can see them side by side:
The next step was to make this into a pattern. I chopped up the mock-up and recreated it with layers of cotton and interfacing.
But I didn’t use just any cotton. These patterns I digitally designed using close-up scans of leaves. The day they arrived from Spoonflower and I opened up the package: magical.
The next piece in the collection is Nymph, the juvenile insect. It is very closely inspired by the stunning patterns of the dragonfly larva, as seen in the charming book “Zoom in on Nature”:
Each piece of the carapace is separate and self-contained, so that they overlap like armour. Once they were all machine stitched into plates I pinned them on the dressform using my meticulous photo-records:
I hand sewed them all to each other. It was at this point I realized two things: I am really glad I didn’t make this out of stiffer cloth, and I really really need to buy a thimble. Stabbed fingers aside, I love the control of hand sewing, and it went along a lot quicker than I had imagined. I wouldn’t begin to know how to accomplish this on a machine.
If you didn’t get to see this lovely lady in Saint John, she will be making an appearance in Fredericton! I have the luck of taking part in the bi-annual show for the Textile Dept. at the NB College of Craft and Design. A lot of really incredible designers come out of there every year, you don’t want to miss it. Check out the last one if you don’t believe me!
See you at the opening in The Gallery at NBCCD tomorrow evening (Feb 6) at 4:30 – 6pm.
Moving back in time now to my last exhibition, “Foundation” at the Saint John Arts Centre. It was so exciting to share space again with the interns I spent so much time with at Sculpture Saint John. They had a lot of excellent work. One lovely artist, Alison Gayton, brought sculptures she created on a learning vacation Italy. You can check out the amazing story over at I Love Saint John Pottery.
As promised, I’d like to take you through the story of my work in the show. I am intrigued by lifecycles. I think it’s incredible the commonalities between different organisms when you really get looking close. These works explore the insect lifecycle, as it relates to us. You can read more about the concept in this post.
The first piece is Nascent, inspired by insect eggs. The idea came to me staring up at a tree in Odell Park one night. In the dark each leaf cluster looked like a cluster of eggs.
It started with a tree, and then went horribly awry.
As you can see, the bowl shattered under the weight. But it was a good thing after all because then I found this bowl:
But then, of course, my tree died. I was sad, I get attached. That is okay too though, as I still had a canopy of my own to add:
My teacher commented that the geometric shapes give it a logical, human element, and I like that. Without the leaves the form became simplified, and the more I look at it, the more I am happy about that too.
The beginning of November marked the opening of “Foundation”, a show I am taking part in at the Saint John Arts Centre. Our special group comes together as a result of shared experience, the Sculpture Saint John symposium of 2012. We spent six weeks with six international artists, constructing six granite sculptures. We lived together and worked together and learned to communicate together. It was the most immersive experience I’ve come across.
That summer set me off on a mission to unite my chosen medium of textile, with my new-found love of stone, with my ever-growing passion for plants. From a personal standpoint, these three mediums activate different sides of my self. Textile for flexibility and colour, stone for strength and endurance, plants for energy and nurturing. I think of them as my prescription for well-roundedness.
From a conceptual standpoint, they make even more sense. Stone. The unyielding machinery which drives our planet. Plants. Lush and pulsing, they hold the very present moment. Textile. Almost impossible malleable, cloth is what makes us human. By combining these three primal disciplines I will evoke the kinship between man and biosphere.
I have begun through exploration, testing different ways of uniting these three. See below the initial designs, collectively entitled “Time Flies”. The final piece, “Necros”, is still in progress. In the coming days I will take you through the huge learning process of creating the first four. You can see the finished works at the historic Saint John Arts Centre until January 10th.