The inspiration behind my work remains the ‘beauty of human frailty’. This newer work is about creating figurative forms that can provoke ambiguous interpretations by the viewer. Moving from the city to rural Nova Scotia ten years ago affected the work I want to show in St. Andrews. Instead of using uniform traditional basketry materials, I enjoy the irregularities of willow from the wild. It is harvested from the ditches and the lanes in the immediate area where I now live. The character of the knotted branches suggests the sometimes flawed beauty of the human body.
I propose that the work to be shown, “A Fortunate Adversity”, expresses a full life enriched by caring and seeing loved ones overcome disasters and small misfortunes.
Q&A with Dawn MacNutt
How did you develop these textile sculpting techniques?
When I returned to weaving in the ‘70’s, almost right away I began weaving sculptural objects…trees and then people. The changes in technique have evolved as a means to an end. How can I make the work stand up? How can I make woven work to endure outdoors? (weave with wire, use internal infrastructures; have the work electroplated; work in basketry techniques with willow and natural materials; and eventually, have some of the work cast in bronze).
What is your creative process like? Is the physicality of the work important?
While there are a lot of preparatory steps in preparing materials for use, I make allowances for a lot of spontaneous moments. The exciting part is to interact with the materials, deciding when to allow the material to speak, and deciding when to push back, creating the movement and posture as I go.
You utilize natural materials to create figurative forms, can you expand on the connection between the human form and the material?
Like people, natural materials have certain common characteristics, but also have individual differences. Like humans, they have knobby parts, imperfections, twists and bends and different colours and textures that characterize the appearance of the final work.
How does sense of place influence your work?
Since returning to the land of my birth, the sense of being where my ancestors lived and worked has permeated the space that is now my studio. I am inspired to imagine the past, especially after the discovery that the old house, now my studio, was built by my great-great-great-grandfather.
What role does emotion or movement play in your work?
Both are driving forces behind the work. While working, I’m thinking of the posture of individuals plodding along, putting one foot ahead of the other, dancing with joy, cradling another person, grieving, reflecting, loving, celebrating. Body language, I suppose.
What is the ‘beauty of human frailty’?
We admire perfection, strength, achievement. But we are drawn by the vulnerability of our fellow humans: Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Christina’s World’; Alexander Graham Bell’s Mabel; Terry Fox; Mother Theresa; Stephen Hawking. Embracing human frailty is empowering…and beautiful.
What about your work do you find the most rewarding?
When someone finds a connection in the work to their own being.
Artist website: http://dawnmacnutt.com