Woven Woods: A Journey Through the Forest Floor
Exhibition Dates: November 14, 2020 - January 9, 2021
Artist Talk: December 6, 2020 1:00 pm
The Saskatchewan Craft Council has the honour of presenting Woven Woods: A Journey through the Forest Floor by Ontario artist Lorraine Roy.
This inspiring exhibition is making a stop in the prairies as part of a Canada-wide tour. Scientist turned artist Lorraine Roy completed an Honours B.Sc. in Horticultural Science before moving to a career in art textiles. Inspired by the research of Dr. Suzanne Simard, a UBC professor of forest ecology, Woven Woods explores the complex relationship between art, science, and nature. Taking an intricate look at what lies beneath the surface of the forest floor, Roy reveals the biology, mythology, and symbolism of trees, including the way they communicate with each other and the world above. “My intention is to arouse emotional connection by shining a warm light on nature’s unforeseen forces” – Lorraine Roy.
Artist Statement – Lorraine Roy
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. 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 infinity, also happens to be the shape of the earth, a cross section of tree root and even a single spore. We use circles to describe the flow of our seasons, our measure of time, and the movements of biological systems through their cycles.
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.
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