Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Mended World at Thunder Bay Art Gallery, a review by Linda Meehans, Thunder Bay Source weekly

 Judy Martin has been here before.  Literally.  Yes, originally she hails from Fort Frances in Northwestern Ontario, nowadays this artist makes her home on Manitoulin Island.

Curretnly, here in autumn of 2013 Martin's textile-and-time-rich exhibit entitled Mended World is on display in the third (main) space at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

Walking in, one moves clockwise through the space.  First on the complete left-hand wall hangs a 'living highway' of material looped floor to ceiling.  It consists of recycled fabrics cut and rolled into uniform 14 inch widths, each coiled with glossy embroidery thread, one hue and shade leading harmoniously into the next.  Standing close-up is one way to regard these stitches.  Standing at the far end at an angle produces a completely different visual effect, a whole new landscape.  The length of this is a mind-boggling 225 feet.  Title: Nor to Know But To Go On.
On the next wall, a similar Cloud of Time only 14 inches by 500 inches is a work-in-progress.
Next to it is Martin's title piece of the exhibit.
Close up we see all the stitches, either by hand or some by expert measurements with machine.  Stand back and we are regarding a pale sphere that could be planet Earth if one imagines uniform horizontal dots and lines of pale blue as a pattern; yet instead of the inky black of outer space?  An outer space of pure white is an interesting concept.

Can you imagine?  Anyone who's read Saramago's Idea for Blindness (1998 Nobel Prize for Literature) would know what I mean.

Then stand close to Earth Ark: note the stitches, the materials used.  The lace in Layers of time:  "too pretty to use, but no one can throw it away. I've been given all this material."  Peer close to Precious Water: eerie fot he texture of the water imagined from a satellite view of an earth.

When asked if the message of her exhibit concerns time and reincarnation Judy smiled in recognition.

"You're the viewer I've wanted to hear say that.  Yes, there are so many different kinds of time.  There's the length of it, as we can see in Not to Know But To Go ON.  We can see how long a year is, how long three years is.  Then there's that kind of circular time you're thinking about: that which we hold inside ourselves, the memories of our childhood, our mothers, or thoughts of maybe I could do that" and then we move off and away into some other dream or hope. Our private thoughts that have nothing to do with our daily lives, the here and now.

It's suddenly where time has taken us: could be what you remember, maybe what someone has just said.  This elusive kind, time that goes back and forth, back and forth, that's what leads to self-understanding.  It's like when you are in nature, all by yourself on a hillside looking out to the horizon; you see all those little wavelets and suddenly understand something different, are transformed just a little bit.  That's the kind of time I want my viewers to experience with this exhibit."

Martin's Mended World is here until October 27,. 2013.

A different review of this show is in the Kenora Daily Miner and News  .  click here.

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