Theme / concept Forests/Clearcutting Beauty/Ugliness
Judy Villett and Martha Jablonski Jones – Collaborative Fibre Art: North of Lilloet
The initial idea for this collaboration was generated by the research that Martha Jablonski Jones did online for a series of paintings of forest clear-cuts seen from space. Both of us are nature lovers who have hiked and camped together over many years. The theme seemed to lend itself to a blending of painting and quilting. Martha drafted the design and used acrylic and metallic paint to lay a rich foundation for me to work on.
I layered and basted the painted muslin with wool batting and theme-print backing, then began to free hand quilt around the design elements. I used curving lines with a variegated hand-dyed thread to fill in all the clear-cut areas. Next, heavy machine embroidery stitching was used to add texture over the treed areas. The lakes were then accented with rayon and metallic quilting threads.
Martha Jablonski Jones
Behind the thin wall of forest seen from our western highways, lies a devastated landscape created by the practice of clear-cutting. There is no hiding from space where Google Earth has been a revelation to us, showing the true state of our planet earth.
The initial reaction when we see the extent of the damage in Canada’s forests is likely to be horror. When we look at the quilt-like patterns impartially, they can become compellingly fascinating and oddly beautiful – evoking the jewel like patterns seen in the paintings of Gustav Klimt. This led us to the idea of embellishment, re- dressing the stripped Mother Earth in gilding and textures. This stripping of nature and re-dressing her to our own ends has been human practice since the beginning of civilization.
Humans have an endless capacity to seek out the positive – no matter what confronts us. As our world changes rapidly around us, we may be forced to seek beauty in places we presently see as ugly. It may even be that we are psychologically disposed to see beauty, even in the most discouraging situations – simply as a matter of mental health.
The big-box store, the urban slum, the congested freeway – can they be salvaged? Do we lose Mother Nature, forget her, dress her up, or rescue her? In presenting this Google Earth vignette, we have introduced an element of what is accepted as beauty into a scene of what is accepted as ugliness, setting up a visual mixed message. We leave it to the viewer to decide what is beautiful, what is not and whether it matters in the end.