Gallery - Woven Woods 2017


Woven Woods at Art Gallery of Burlington 2017

In the top six inches of the forest floor lies a vast and flourishing communication system as old as photosynthesis itself. This is where we find an exquisitely balanced symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and tree roots which provides a network of channels for resources and messages between individual trees. The resulting plant chatter is as complex and efficient as our own worldwide web. In recent research, biologists have discovered the existence of Mother trees: larger, older specimens that, with the help of their fungi, serve as system hubs in life and as nutrient sources in death. This mycorrhizal network thus connects and stabilizes the forest, and by extension, our entire planet's biosphere.

Fascinated by this current research, I applied for an Ontario Arts Council Grant to travel to the University of British Columbia and meet Dr Suzanne Simard who is a leader in this field. Together with her and some of her gracious Grad students, I toured her lab and field facilities on campus and through the mountains to Kamloops. It was an amazing experience.

The resulting exhibition, entitled Woven Woods, is a collection of twelve circular quilted wall hangings, measuring 36 to 45" in diameter, each depicting twelve trees of varying types, seasons and stages of growth, and portraying a different aspect of their connection with the mycorrhizal net. The number twelve is significant - as the 'number of completion' it is found almost ubiquitously in our measuring and mathematical systems, our measuring of time, and in several key spiritual and astronomical concepts.

Each circle encloses the story of a thriving ecosystem, where all individual elements contribute to support the whole. The circle, which is a shape symbolizing eternity, also happens to be the shape of the earth, a cross section of tree root and even a single spore. The title Ubuntu, given as a prefix to each wall hanging, is an African word which means "I am, because you are."

Since fabric is itself a plant or animal product, it is an ideal material for expressing and capturing the attributes of natural forms, and the techniques I use mirror processes that bring order to diverse and humble materials. For materials, I used fabrics of all kinds, mainly dyed and printed cottons, some silks, a variety of synthetics and sheers, and cotton batting. In a few of them I also used acrylic paint. They are all machine appliqued and quilted, and hang freely without frames.

The pieces in this collection will be available for purchase at the end of their touring schedule, in 2021 or later. For the touring locations and dates, click HERE.

Click on the images below to read about the inspiration for each piece.