Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Fruit Cellar of Miss H...

Today, more photographs of my installation, The Fruit Cellar of Miss H...  in the Project Window at Harbourfront Centre. The exhibition continues until Sunday November 7, 2010.

I was an artist-in-residence in the textile studio at Harbourfront Centre from 2006-2009.  I always enjoy installing pieces at Harbourfront because their wonderful installation crew is immensely talented, and because the Visual Arts and Crafts curators, Patrick Macauley and Melanie Egan are a such pleasure to work with.  You just want to please them.

Below, I have included my artist statement from the didactic panel at Harbourfront Centre. Not included in the panel information was the materials I work with - a lot of cotton organdie (I love the pliant nature of it, how it responds to being shaped so obediently) and all sorts of wools, some silk, some linen.  Much of the fabric I dyed using natural dyes - Queen Anne's lace, goldenrod, Lady's Bedstraw, madder, logwood, black walnut, pomegranate, cochineal - and some of it I screen-printed using discharge paste, earth pigments and gold leaf.  All of the screen printed imagery is taken from old recipes, photographs and ladies' magazines from the 1930s. All the fruits and vegetables are hand-stitched sculptures. The majority of mason jars (the Crown jars) were my grandmother's, the rest have been acquired at flea markets and antique markets, especially Aberfoyle.

The work is difficult to photograph as it is behind glass, and directly across from a brightly lit window.

Artist Statement
Preserving. Formerly, this household task occupied much of summer and autumn, in order to conserve fresh food for consumption during winter, when it was a scarce. The filled shelves of a cold cellar afforded a sense of accomplishment, virtue and security. This pursuit, so representative of ‘old fashioned values’, is lately experiencing resurgence as we place more importance on the provenance of our food.
Each year, I can fruits, pickles and jellies. This is an inherited habit. A few jars put down by my grandmother still remain after a quarter century.  In particular, one treasured jar of her pickles has become like a votive from her to me. This seemingly mundane object acts as a time capsule of seasons and places past, preserving her memory.
This body of work imagines the fruit cellar as a storehouse of memories. From season to season, the contents of each jar are imbued with vestiges of the past, triumphs and regrets, joys and sorrows. The vessels are an investment in the future as much as they are reliquaries of the past.  The fruit cellar acts as a hope chest of both realised and unrequited aspiration.