Sail is a project I made over 2010-13 but it existed as an idea for much longer. With the help of a BC Arts Council professional development grant, I learned a few basic sailmaking skills. I have designed a 12’ tall mast to support canvas sails with formed wooden battens that give the illusion the sails are full and underway. After making a number of double-sided embroidery samples (as one sees the sails from both sides) and maquettes, I made four embroidered sets: Tides, Oceans, Clouds and Storms.
Sails are a means of propulsion. I am interested in how they will convey this, trapped in a gallery and not attached to a vessel. I imagine latent possibility, a kind of yearning. Using imagery from pilot and tide current charts, and cloud patterns, I want to evoke the individual and communal knowledge/language necessary for navigation -a language that has parallels to others that are attuned to the natural world. A set of sails with extensive patches refer to historical photos of mended sails and the care and labour invested in their repair. The art works in Sail consider our need for travel and for community.
You can download a PDF of my paper that discusses my research and process, presented at the Textile Society of America's conference Textiles and Politics in Washington DC, here:
Tides, Oceans, Clouds, Storms 2011-2012
360cm h x 270cm w x 120cm d (12’ tall x 9‘wide x 4’ deep)
Cotton canvas, hand embroidery cotton thread, machine sewn sails, hand worked corners/grommets. Sisal rope, stainless steel tubing, assorted nautical fittings, formed wooden battens, cut plate steel bases.
Sail Diagrams 2011-12
I have also made a series of ten densely embroidered Sail Diagrams presented on sailcloth panels mounted on the wall. Every book about sails or sailing has diagrams that attempt to describe how sails work. Some of these are spare, some are busy. I have added a layer of description by embroidering the surface of water below the signifying arrows and lines.
Each Diagram: 70cm h x 50cm w (28” x 20”) hand embroidery cotton and silk thread on linen cloth. Mounted on unbleached canvas panels.