The Butterfly Series metamorphosed within the first few months of my yearlong Artist’s Residency in Malaysia in 2010. Before travelling to Asia I had become immersed in the world of butterflies and moths after visiting a Joseph Scheer exhibition in Sweden and had painted hundreds of translucent fabric butterflies.
This array of vibrant and muted butterflies, created in Sweden, was packed in my materials box and flew with me to Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. There, in the tropical surrounds of my new studio, the butterflies were carefully placed onto a newly stretched canvas, their composition changing gradually as I explored the effects of layered colours, and with each new layer the colours changed and new forms were created.
The series Sketches from Rio is an unusual tribute to the hawkers of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches; textile art and the ‘Fine Art’ technique of en plein air (in the open air) sketching. I created 31 stitched artworks after being captivated by the hawkers who, with panache and perseverance walk the beaches selling their produce and wares to sunbathing Cariocas (locals) and tourists. I was particularly fascinated by the physical details of the hawkers and their interactions –or lack thereof- with beach goers. What appear at first glance to be seemingly quickly executed sketches are in fact laboriously stitched artworks. I deliberately chose to make the works look like sketches -something we generally create and peruse briefly (like we look at hawkers, uniformed workers or the homeless). I wanted the viewer to glance, then to take a deeper look at the artwork and ask themselves, is that merely a sketch or is there much more ‘work’ to this work? Just as when we meet another person –does their identity lie solely on the surface, defined by what they ‘do’ or is there more to them.