Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Studio Series: Cycles II

Cycles II © Karen Thiessen, 2007
When I was making Cycles II for the Out of the Past... Into the Present show, my life was falling apart and there was nothing that I could do about it. By the end of 2007, 11 people in my sphere had died. I was not close to every person, but each death had an effect on me. Wonderful things happened too: three cousins married, one cousin and his wife had their first child, my career was progressing by leaps and bounds. Five years ago I learned who my real friends were, and who they were not. One friendship ended and three took its place. One tragic death so affected me that my husband and I decided to visit New York City for the first time. Life is short.

I was invited to dig through the Dundas Museum and Archives to select a piece to respond to for the Out of the Past show, and by chance I found a box of Victorian mourning jewellery. My grandma had just died, so my fresh grief collided nicely with the hair jewellery discovery. While my grandma was dying, I held her hand and stroked her hair as I spoke softly to her. Death affects each person differently. For various reasons, three of my grandma's four children were AWOL when it came time to sort through and distribute her stuff, so it fell to an uncle and his wife and my husband and me. As the oldest grandchild, I knew her the longest and possibly the best. Grandma was a pack rat and an avid and accomplished textile person, so there was much to sort through. The mother-of-pearl brooch front and the pearls came from her stash. The hair is mine, from when I had my head shaved for an important birthday. Circles represent the life cycle. All the elements work together to support the concept. Below are the artifacts that inspired Cycles II.
A. Victorian Mourning Jewellery Hair brooch, collection of Dundas Museum & Archives
B. Victorian Mourning Jewellery Hair bracelet, collection of Dundas Museum & Archives
A. Memorial Hair & Pearl Brooch, presented to Jane Notman, 1845
B. Lady's hair bracelet, braided design. Held together by gold clasp in knotted design, c. 1880

1 comment:

Judy Martin said...

Thanks for showing this.
I always like seeing your work.
Well done.