Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Artistic Dialogue With My Immediate Environment

Guest Artist: Lesley Turner

This blogspot has a number of posts that highlight the artwork of invited artists. For you convenience I have listed them below:
Jennifer Libby Fay
Flora Fascinator
Shirley McKernan

I met Lesley Turner when I was tutoring in the USA. A New Zealander by birth, a Canadian by circumstance and an artist who completed her artistic education in Canada and the United Kingdom - all point to a person possessing an international mien. I have always been impressed by her art and her generosity in sharing her ideas and her art practices. Her artist statement and the processes that underpin her artwork practice, as outlined below, are a witness of her generous trait.

Lesley Turner.

Lesley has an on-going artistic dialogue with her immediate environment. A dialogue is a two way discourse: as you witness and interpret what you see - by “being” in the environment rather than possessing it – the environment becomes fused with your art making processes. I cannot put it better than Daisetz Suzuki who pointed out that in the East you do not have to possess (i.e. pluck) a rose in order to love and admire it – you just have to experience its presence, its very being (D. Suzuki, Zen and the Japanese Culture).

Below is only a vignette of her work. Visit Lesley’s Blogspot for more of her artwork and musings.

I know you will love her art as much as I do.


Guest Artist: Lesley Turner
Artist Statement

Title of Artwork: Home.
Materials: Bed sheets; cotton, wool, linen, silk, bamboo thread.
Size: 142” (high) x 101” (wide) x 101” (deep).

“Home” documents a process enabling me to get to know the Canadian Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir ecosystem - where I live. Each cloth records my marking of a lunar year in the tree’s life cycle.

I am working to build an intimate relationship with my natural environment by having an on-going dialogue with four specific trees, wrapping each of them in a sheet from my children’s beds. The wrapped trees respond by staining each sheet, leaving an imprint of their biological processes.

My response in the dialogue is to add stitch in the color palette I observe in each tree every new moon month. These sheets are a signifier of the care and attention I gave my children as they grew and they now reference my desire to nurture the natural environment.

Title of Artwork: Home.
Materials: Cotton bed sheets; cotton, wool, linen, silk, bamboo thread; wood, steel, plant material.
Size: 142” (high) x 101” (wide) x 101” (deep).

“Home” is the result of one of a number of dialogues I have started within my immediate environment. The above image shows the work after eight months of stitched documentation when it was exhibited as my final graduation work, fulfilling the requirements of Middlesex University's B.A.(Hons) Embroidered Textiles program.

These dialogues began after I moved to a house located within the Douglas-fir ecosystem on Vancouver Island, Canada. I was born in a temperate rainforest region of New Zealand and was happy with the idea of returning to live in this type of ecosystem. Once I realized I was not familiar with the trees in my new home, I experienced a strong urge to get to know them. One usually has a conversation with the person one wants to get to know - but just talking to trees was limiting. The concept of dialogues with trees encompasses a greater range of potential communicative activities.

The “Home” dialogue began with pre-mordanting the bed sheets in salt water. The sea is two kilometers from where the four trees are growing.

The pre-mordant bed sheets were wrapped around the tree trunks and secured with jute twine.

Douglas-fir. The four wrapped trees were left for approximately a year while the staining on the bed sheets took place.

The new moon is a time of growth and an ancient way to mark time. I conducted color studies of a feature on each tree every month on the day of the new moon. I explored the identified colors in a sketchbook then selected natural fiber threads in those colors.

I began by stitching in situ a band of running stitch in the selected colors. As the temperatures dropped and as I worked further up the bed sheet, this proved impractical. For the next eight months I took the bed sheet off the tree, stitched the band while inside, then re-wrapped the tree again.

“Home” will be exhibited in “Continuum” at the "World Of Threads Festival" Oakville, November 2nd - 17th, 2012, with the other B.A.(Hons) graduates’ work. “Continuum” will go to Sudpfalz, Herxheim, Germany, February 16th - March 9th, 2013. “Home” will be different each time it is shown as I continue to stitch the changing colors of the trees until October 2013, when the bed sheets will be completely covered with stitch.

Title of Artwork: Valuing Women’s Work.
Materials: Cotton, porcelain, steel.
Size: 62” (deep) x 81” (wide) - installation size varies, dependent on table size.

“Valuing Women’s Work” is the result of another dialogue. A hand-embroidered tablecloth was laid under a maple tree just before the leaves began to fall. In a delicate, composted state the tablecloth was preserved using museum conservation techniques.

After careful washing and ironing it was stitched to a support cloth, another tablecloth. The work speaks of nurturing life-sustaining cycles taking place inside the home and outside in our planet home.

Title of Artwork: Succession.
Materials: Cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, wood.
Size: 96” (high) x 60” (wide) x 36” (deep).

“Succession” explores two exciting concepts I learnt via scientific research that was stimulated by my dialogues. At a molecular level our blood has the same structure as a trees’ chlorophyll - the difference being iron makes our blood red and magnesium makes chlorophyll green. This work visually expresses our physical interconnectedness with trees.

The other vital concept is the flow of these life forces in a cycle of birth-growth-decay-death-birth... - a cycle that must not be disrupted if life is to continue. I felt knitting with the ability to unravel and re-knit was the most appropriate technique to express this concept.

I am continuing to get to know my new home as I work on a number of other dialogue projects. Nature’s creativity inspires my explorations while art and science help me to see and understand what is in front of me.

Lesley Turner is a trained teacher with a B.A.(Hons) Embroidered Textiles 1st class, Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom and a B.A. in Geography, Otago University, New Zealand. She is a licentiate member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and a Master Knitter of Canada. She has been awarded City and Guilds of London Institute certificates in hand embroidery, machine embroidery and design and a Certificate in Visual Design from the University of Calgary. Lesley works in the textile medium with a focus on stitch as a mark maker. She has exhibited across Canada, in the UK and in South Korea. She is a member of Articulation and the Surface Design Association. She is an instructor in Fine Arts Textiles at the Victoria College of Art, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

For Lesley's Full CV - visit: L. Turner's Full CV

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