Friday, November 9, 2012

Crafting Remembrance

As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking about art about war, and memorializing the lost.

'HMS Kimberley' by Vanessa Rolf, 'Poems to the Sea' series, 2012. 210cm x 104cm, cotton canvas and thread Source: via minouette on Pinterest

Vanessa Rolf, His lowly grave, 2012. 55cm x 40cm, canvas and thread

Textile artist Vanessa Rolf's series 'Poems to the Sea' 2009-2011 includes quilts and needlework documenting naval warfare in WWII. Her beautiful tapestries and quilts, on inherited canvas, and in their limited colour palette of blues and whites, are quite evocative. The HMS Kimberley above, was a Royal Navy K-class destroyer, which was one of only two of its class to survive the war. The pieces below shows the name of all German vessels which did not survive and a memorial to the sailors who died for France at Mers el Kabir in 1940.

Inherited patched canvas embroidered with the names of German battleships sunk during World War 2. 170cm x 105cm. Canvas and thread.

Vanessa Rolf. Mers el Kebir,2012. 45cm x 40cm, cotton and thread

I wrote previously (Juxtaposition and Craftivism) about the power of contrasting media (in artworks which have been traditionally deemed 'craft' and even sometimes 'women's work') with implements of war and violence. Remembrance Day is not only a day to give thanks to those who gave up their lives, and surviving vetrans who served their nation in times of war, but to recall the horrors of war and the senselessness of violence. We also mustn't forget the thousands of civilians lost to wars. This brings to mind two other artists, who have created works about and with weapons.

British artist Magnus Gjoen "often questions the correlation between religion, war, beauty & destruction in his art," and plays with making extremely destructive weapons beautiful and fragile.

Magnus Gjoen, Delft Machine Gun, Digital. Source: via minouette on Pinterest

Magnus Gjoen, Flowerbomb, Digital Vexel art

Magnus Gjoen, AK-47 Concert of Birds, Digital Vexel art

Mexico-city based artist Pedro Reyes has created a series of 50 musical instruments called 'Imagine' working with 6,700 guns seized by the Mexican government related to gun violence and the drug war in the country. He is constrasting their new, modified, potential to create beautiful music from their violent pasts. Almost 80,000 people have lost their lives to gun violence in Mexico over the last six years and the project serves as requiem. He writes, "It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost."


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