Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fibreworks 2012: Tammy Sutherland

Tammy Sutherland How to Lift, 2010; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Fibreworks 2012 is a mix of intimate, engaging textiles and truly bizarre artwork. Tammy Sutherland's How to Lift fits the former category. Before I extoll the virtues of Tammy's work, I must come clean: Tammy is an old friend from our days at NSCAD. Nonetheless, my appreciation of her work is genuine, otherwise I wouldn't write about it here.

How to Lift is small: 38 cm wide by 29 cm high (15" X 11.4") and it is the smallest stand-alone piece in the show. Small is beautiful. The scale, intimate subject matter, irregular shape, and thoughtful details invite you to come close and take time with it and the quirky imagery forces you to come up with your own narrative of what it is about. Furthermore, that the piece is bound on three sides and not on the fourth, indicates to me that maybe this is the first piece of a series. Tammy's artist statement indicates that it is part of a series, but does not say where it resides.
Tammy Sutherland How to Lift, detail; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
The x's are a nice touch, as are the small details that you only notice once you've looked at it long enough, like the tiny red stitches that attach the head of the cartoon creature to the body of the textile.
Tammy Sutherland How to Lift, detail; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Tammy is now back in her home province of Manitoba where she juggles a studio practice, two young children, and work at the Manitoba Crafts Council. I hope to see more of her work make its way to Ontario.

For those who need to know more, here's the didactic text from the exhibition:

Tammy Sutherland, Winnipeg, MB
How to lift, 2010 
Hand-dyed and printed cotton, embroidery thread, appliqué, screen printing, hand and machine pieced

Artist Statement:
My art is an act of salvage. I reclaim "waste" materials through repetitive, contemplative and sometimes mind-numbing work. I work with the simplest of processes: hand sewing, open screen-printing, and improvisational dyeing and cutting.

This series of small quilted pieces features embroidered line drawn images inspired by first aid textbooks and newspaper clippings. Otherworldly appliquéd creatures and embellishments emerge from the artist's colourful scrap pile to accompany the unknowing human figures on their journey through an imagined "post-historic" landscape. The past may be closed to them, but an opening ahead beckons them into an infinite and borderless space.

These small tableaus may point towards vulnerability, loss, compassion and a messy kind of beauty.

* Photographs taken with permission from Mary Misner, Director of Cambridge Galleries

1 comment:

Judy Martin said...

I was intrigued by
Tammy's piece. I put it on my blog as well.

The title and that line drawing was like the first piece in a puzzle.
The dangling red thread was emotionally fragile.

The show itself seemed somber to me and I was really glad to have seen it in person - thought about it for the rest of the day.