I have made six sentinels for my exhibition in the Netherlands and in Parma Italy- exploring aspects of the earth; a fusion of landscape inspired by Fred Williams and Judy Watson, a look at the french landscape so different and yet so similar to Australian landscape ( I am thinking Fred Williams would have loved Pic St loup) a tip of the hat to my heritage and a pervading spirituality and mystique of the land and my personal language of lace and the tenuous connecting threads of the lace.
I am using a hominid form to suggest Sentinel and I usedthe word sentinel rather than guardian as the word guardian implies looking after but also taking care of. Sentinels are merely guards, there is nothing proactive about their watch- they only watch and can alert others ,to what they are watching. It is for the viewer or others to act on what they see or don’t see. Each sentinel will deal with aspects of the environment, and whilst we know certain things must not be done, we are responsible ourselves to make sure they are not done- it is not some benevolent guardian that does it for us- it has to be us. This is why I have made the sentinels life size; to suggest the human aspect and they are the same height as myself so that I too must play an active role in protecting the earth.
I am weaving together imagery of things and myths i love.
I have a fascination with lace- when you zoom in on lace it is like looking at a thread map- the negative space as interesting as the actual threads forming the positive space . In this series I am exploring the land, or nature if you will but I am of nature too and I bring my past and present to this land- the past is full of lace, i see it in the old photographs of family, their finely starched lace caps. The idea of caps somehow intertwined with the idea of Madonnas and determined that my figure would have a head dress of sorts. The body is traversed by paths and transparencies that reflect the structure of lace.
I would like to see my sentinels in all corners of the world, big and small. I like the idea that they will be in many places watching, being reminders to take a deep breath in, then breathe out; let the good things in and put the bad things out.
So I have chosen a simple form that suggest madonna but also other spirit keepers from different societies and also a reference to the lace caps worn by my great grandmothers and aunts in Zeeland- a halo to suggest the spiritual aspect- an opportunity to decorate with thoughts of byzantine Madonnas of gilt and gold ,of lace intertwinings. It also represents the mother- watching over her children. She encapsulates a lot of things I want to say about the place i find my self in- Australia, but also about my migrant past and indeed the past of my family.
The Blue Sentinel
One of reflection and empathy, cool and thoughtful- what is she watching? At the present the world is in a bad state- when was it last like this? It is the sentinel that was there in the beginning, in the waters and the sea- watching life as it emerged, watching as it evolved, watching as it is squandering the earth’s resources, watching as we must draw deep within ourselves to have human empathy for the disasters we have created, watching as we must find solutions to the disasters of our own making. She stands cool and shimmering, her body encrusted with corals and urchin shapes.
The Red Sentinel
She reminds me of Demeter- the earth mother but also the watcher of her daughter- she could not prevent Persephone’s seduction by the seed of the pomegranate and the other world, the underworld- it was Persephone’s own action that meant she had to spend time in the underworld.It is a reminder to be close to the earth- to take care of the earth- if tilled with care and love it delivers great fruit.But if the tilling fails then the earth is waste.
Green Forest Sentinel
The forests are places of great diversit y of many life forms and of many plants some of them with great medicinal properties. We must look to nature for solutions and yet at the same time we must guard against destruction of our forests- which dwindle all days.
Dark Fire Sentinel
The fire within, the fire of imagination. Fire marks both danger and rebirth. In Australia where the land is subject to high fire risk , and on hot summer days when the north wind blows, fire is something that is feared – we have seen too many bush fires and seen the path of destruction that fire causes. And yet fire can be magical as well- imagine a warm wood fire on a winters evening, with a glass of red wine and a steaming cup of soup with freshly baked bread, or the imagination gets all fired up with ideas, so many that it is difficult to begin
Ochre Earth Sentinel
Ochre Earth Sentinel- this sentinel is the watcher of all things Australian- of our dry landscape despite small patches of forest and an eastern seaboard with tropical rainforest, of dwindling water resources of drought and sunburnt land. The water is the heart of our land, slow rivers flow through the land giving sustenance, to sometimes dry up in summers’ shimmering heat. We have to take care with water , it is not a never ending resource, it must be used frugally, but we seem to waste more than ever. There are parts of the world where water is as precious as gold, the only thing that sustains life.
Aubergine Tracking Paths Sentinel
Many people inhabit our land but the first people, indigenous Australians have a deep affinty with the land- the walk and sing the land, it imbues their spirit, and they take care of the land- they are the custodians and they do take care. We ,the after comers should take a lesson in loving our land and learning it’s tracks and songs so that we too can walk the paths and as a people take care of our land.
They are the spirit of the land- of the rivers and the plains and the mountains together they watch and hope we will awaken and that we will protect what is the most valuable - love of land and the humans whom inhabit it- to lay down all our differences and work together.
The liveliness of the stitch is what draws me most to textiles- that and the ability ot be able to colour it and print it. But the stitch is an entirely different mark making tool. I don’t aim for perfect stitching or perfect length of stitches- I want my stitches to speak , to add texture and sparkle if necessary
All my work starts as white cotton, is hand dyed, printed and stitched. I like to use simple techniques.