Gardening at Night, 2020
featured in the group exhibition Fossil Record curated by Tatum Dooley, January 18 - February 22, 2020
My mother is a seamstress. Growing up, I learned to sew, knit and quilt; the tools of expression and practicality, which passed down through generations of prairie women in my family. I grew up on a small, forested acreage in Southern Ontario and for years my art practice centred around landscape painting and the material language thereof. Years of travel, experience and making has brought me back to these childhood skills where fibre, sewing and quilting have become core tenants of my practice. I am currently working on a series of quilted tapestries and mixed-media fibre and plaster sculptures. In both instances, the blends of materials, skills and surfaces reveal the embedded histories of their making.
I have a great reverence for nature.Though I am troubled by our contemporary climate of waste and destruction, this reverence is something I still feel compelled to celebrate and, at the same time, problematize. Recently, I inherited a collection of handkerchiefs, dollies and other domestic trappings, made by generations of women in my family. The carefully made floral appliqués and happy woodland scenes struck me at once as painfully sweet and a charnel house to naïvety that is no longer possible. I was inspired to render my own contemporary version of these pieces. Working on individual elements in isolation, when put together they created pastiche, synthetic “landscapes” that take their composition from their painting forebears. Instead of the figure having omnipresence over the scene, they appear to meld in with, or be subsumed by, their surround. Graphic patterns flatten and expand spaces, alluding to a digital image but the soft, hand worked material confuses this illusion. The resulting feeling is that the figure ground relationship is sympathetic but not actual, beautiful but illusory.