Friday, 3 October 2014

Dorothy Caldwell Silent Ice Deep Patience @ AGP 3

Dorothy Caldwell, Pink Hill, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Pink Hill is one of a family of five intimate textiles installed together from Dorothy Caldwell's Silent Ice Deep Patience exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough. Pink Hill, like her fellow earth ochre encrusted sisters, is about 18" X 24" and is mounted on industrial felt. Pink Hill has a subdued colour palette of black, pale yellow and pale pink. The loopy texture reminds me of a chenille bedspread and makes me wonder if the cloth was stitched unstretched versus in a hoop. Dorothy must have strong hands and wrists to pull multiple strands (possibly all six) of embroidery floss through the cotton. 
Dorothy Caldwell, Pink Hill detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
It appears that Pink Hill was stitched after the black cotton was coated with earth ochre. I wonder if Dorothy mordanted the cotton with soy milk (a protein) before coating it with the ochre and if some of the ochre flake off in time. The more that I look at these deeply engaging textiles from the perspective of a maker, the more curious I am about Dorothy's process and materials. The textiles are embedded with well over 40 years of her knowledge and insights as a maker.
Dorothy Caldwell, Human Trace, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Human Trace also belongs to the above-mentioned family-of-five. It's amazing that five stitched ochre-encrusted cotton textiles can all look so different. From looking at the images, I sense that each of the textiles were black prior to the stitching and painting. Did Dorothy stitch the cloth before or after adding the ochre? I imagine that ochre-encrusted cloth would be difficult to stitch, especially with such thick threads.
Dorothy Caldwell, Human Trace detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
There's much to be learned from looking slowly and carefully at the work of a master. My admiration for the work is ineffable.

All photos were taken with permission from Dorothy Caldwell and the fine staff of the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

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