Early in 2019 I was thinking about a new series of beaded works, which I had titled Beaded Baroque. The original concept was to bring contemporary beading into conversation with the Baroque period of art history. I’m fascinated with the Baroque period as it is a time when European nations were accumulating great wealth from the colonial project, which fuelled the artistic production of the time. I was thinking a lot about how the Métis fit into this, but have somehow been erased from the visual record of the time. Being close to Venice, where beads prized by the Métis originated, when I thought about what my Grandmothers and aunties would want me to bring back from this place, the answer was beads, lots of beads, and my stories. These where the first thoughts about this series of work, which has evolved considerably since I’ve begun.
My first task was to search for a studio space and by pure serendipity, I stumbled upon an old country house that had been closed for over a decade. The house was inspiring to me from an artistic perspective in that its last inhabitant was an antiquarian who had amassed an amazing collection of objects. The house had remained as he left it, mostly, for many years following his passing, slowing undergoing the natural process of decay, reclamation by the land, and occupation by thousands of insects. I’ve been living and working in the house while I create my new body of work, allowing the objects, history and insects it contains to fuel my artistic practise. I’ve now begun to see parallels between the process of beading and various activities undertaken by insects. I’m interested in the role the insects play in transforming objects, incasing them, eating them, moving them, and inhabiting them. Working to take them back into the land. The project has become more about relationship to the the site, the insects, the objects, and the process of beading and less about the Baroque period. The project itself has transformed, as have the objects, through this collaborative work with some of our kin from the insect nation.
All of the works in The Antiquarian’s House series were completed in Northern Italy between late 2019 and early March 2020. The works were in transit to Montreal, Canada for BACA 2020 when the Covid-19 shutdown took place. The video below documents the guiding ideas, the site, and the evolution of the project.