Friday, December 12, 2014

Vanitas oh Vanitas

In researching Dutch still lives I came across some wonderful Vanitas painted in the early 1700's by Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726). He painted in watercolour on velum which gives the flowers surrounding the strangely smiling skull, a wonderful luminosity. (See photo below, provenance unknown). My reinterpretation of the Vanitas, in reclaimed needlework, is the first in a series of 'cornucopia' works planned for my next solo exhibition with Gould Galleries in 2015. On a recent trip to my mother's home in regional Victoria, I found some exquisite needlework including Chinese silk embroidered birds with tree and sunset and cross-stitched Hummingbirds with Honeysuckle. These are being incorporated, along with other pieces from my collection, into the floral arrangement adorning the skull. On my return to the studio I backed the fragile pieces with Vlisofix and silk to stabilise them for extraction. They are temporarily pinned directly to the wall of my studio while I work out their arrangement, which is reminding me of the floral bathing caps my mother's generation wore, to keep their hair dry whilst swimming, hense my working title, 'The Bather 2014 after Herman Henstenburgh c.1700'.

For photos of my work in process please go to my website