Well, it's up at the Trinity Gallery, Salon B, Shenkman Arts Centre, Orleans (Ottawa) – installed by my Beloved of 40 years, after two days on top of a ladder.)
In Salon B, “Forest Floor” explores ideas about decay, rebirth and restoration using eco printed and embroidered textiles presented in scroll-like forms that stir gently in response to visitors as they move among them. Rust and plant dye prints mark the surfaces of lengths of natural fibre, silk, linen and wool, here and there gleaming with gold leaf and embroidered with text referring to the plants.
Below: “Earth and Heaven” embroidered rust print on vintage linen one side and embroidered wool on the other. Vintage embroidery threads by Beldings.
Slashed, worn and abraded linen “Earth” with wool “Heaven” making itself visible through the wounds. The more wounded the earth, the more heaven appears.
Rust printing will, of course, continue to decay fabric indefinitely so the concept of fragility and temporality is intrinsic to a rusted work's story. We are dust and earth, too.
The Heaven (wool) plane:
The Earth (linen) plane (or the parts I photographed and did not lose!)
Some images of the text on the scrolls:
Purple Sandcherry on marigold (tagetes). The holes burned and embroidered
Rusted iron prints on embroidered vintage linen.Holes were embroidered.Details next post!
” A State of Transparency” by Karen Goetzinger
In Salon A beside ” Forest Floor” is an inspired complementary installation by my friend and colleague, Karen Goetzinger. “A State of Transparency” is a stitched textile exploration of an elegantly structured ideal city, lit from within, offering an experience of intimacy and warmth from its pure forms and delighting the eye with surface textures that invite a hand's touch.
Here are the two installations, side by side:
Notes on an installation of art cloth:
This was my first exhibit of art cloth and the first one in my city, Ottawa, as far as I know. A first for eco prints, too. I am gratified that the City of Ottawa was ready to take the risk that commercial galleries hereabouts have avoided! My city has been tremendously supportive of the textile arts in its many public galleries and I am truly grateful.
Every exhibit space has ways to enhance the art display but can also to limit it if we do not plan ahead. But as artists we work with what we get, on the spot and make changes as we go along with spaces that may not be ideal. Galleries, by and large, are well equipped to hang paintings or display sculptures…but they often do not “get” loose and flapping textiles. So I knew challenges would face me and looked for help on hanging the show.
Jane Dunnewold's blog on art cloth (see blogroll) has some very helpful advice about hanging a show of textiles that are not designed to be attached to a canvas but to be displayed in ways that preserve the hand of the cloth and that permit movement in the space. I was grateful for Jane 's generosity (in this and and all things art, Jane The Generous is she) in sharing her experience.
To bring variety to my display some textiles were hung loosely by fishing line from the beams of the gallery. The placement of the gallery ceiling beams permitted hanging only in parallel line, so variety was achieved by staggering the placement of the lengths of cloth. I wanted to create an experience of moving among trees. The loosely hanging textiles were eco printed with abstracted patterns evoking abundance of colour and form but with no specific plants represented, merely making reference to the natural world from which the prints were soourced.
The the second collection of cloth, those that showed my captured plant specimens, labelled in Latin, hung against the walls but were still free to move slightly.
Placing dark near light cloth panels, long rectangular near short rectangular, square near triangular was my strategy of complementary placement of the botanical scrolls. Scrolls as precursors to books was my idea for in the written word lies the record of human knowledge passed down through history…but preceded and complemented by oral traditions that often ensure the transmission of knowledge about plant culture and natural dyes.
The textile scrolls could not be hung with rounded bars inserted into channels on the textile top and bottom as I had envisioned, the style that allowed a roll of fabric top and bottom. I had to substitute flat plexi bars that worked with the gallery hanging system on the walls and with the variable height of the supports.
I found that because the gallery lighting is not full spectrum as I have in my studio at home, the cooler blues, greens and purples recede mightity while the warmer reds, yellows and oranges advance strongly. The subtlety of colours in natural dyes from eco prints is somewhat lost in this situation.
I was gratified that the first visitors to the show were some 14- year old students taking an art course at the Shenkman. Their teacher, a former curator at the National Gallery of Canada here in Ottawa, brought his students around the two exhibits…they were in the gallery when I arrived, running in between the textiles, blowing them back and forth, flapping their arms to create more draft…one girl exclaimed: This is a really interactive exhibit! I was mighty chuffed with that evaluation, i must say…Kids get it!
…But to bring two sides to the evaluation, lest you think all was complimentary cheers and appause….
Last night I was standing outside the gallery with friends as a woman walked by…she scarcely slowed her pace but threw over her shoulder: “Looks like a line of washing”
As the French proverb says:” Les gouts ne sont pas a discuter” – Tastes are not to be discussed.
Thanks for reading!
Next post: Maybe movie of the show plus some old tee shirts restored to style by eco prints!