Umbrellas symbolize the canopy of heavens, shelter and protection. Using the medium of paper and ice I created a temporary installation of suspended cast frozen umbrellas on the banks of the Yukon River in Dawson City, Yukon. Their movement was quite magical when lit up at dusk. Click here to see the magic.
Cast paper stones are like a Zen garden or Celtic stone circle.
Cast paper rock made with hand beaten gampi fibre with inclusions of lichen, leaves, grasses from location of rock in Yukon boreal forest.
This piece is titled Red Squirrel Rock because the first casting was partially destroyed by a red squirrel and then re-cast with much patching work. The paper is suspended on a wire armature.
Displacement: a person who is displaced or out of place, transfer of emotions or behaviour to an object, movement from usual site
Helen O’Connor’s video/installation is an arrangement of objects and images which evoke multiple associations, thoughts, longings and moods. A dialogue between each image and object builds a narrative for the viewer, a visual sensory poem of sorts. Layers of meaning, one growing from the next evoke Helen’s search for identity. In the video “Breaking Flax” Helen engages in the age old processes of breaking and heckling flax, used for centuries in her ancestral country of Ireland to make linen. In the video, dressed in papermaker’s garb (part of the installation), set in the Rockies, Helen conveys a sense of displacement of time and location. The use of video, a contemporary medium, contrasts the historical hand process being demonstrated.
The papermaker’s apron is required to keep the artist from getting soaking wet through the papermaking process but is also a uniform for the papermaker (creates identity). Papermaking for Helen involves the growing, collecting, harvesting and processing of plants. It is a slow meditative process that gives the creative mind space to make profound connections.
Helen’s search for connection and identity is represented symbolically in the repetition of a floral pattern motif seen in the image of her aunt and mother (taken in the 1950’s on the east coast of Ireland) and repeated in her cast linen handmade paper floral patterned dress. Her mother, married in Ireland, emigrated to Canada in 1957. One could say she experienced feelings of displacement in the new country and perhaps in marriage.
The suitcase (from Helen’s 1967 trip to Ireland) is filled with hand picked raw fibre flax. A suitcase could be filled with the essentials of life. For the artist it contains the raw fibres for her art form. The linen bedspread, embroidered by her grandmother, is made from these same fibres.
Do we displace feelings of loss and longing onto objects in search of identity? Do we find something in them that is part of us? Do we connect with the past by engaging by hand in age old processes?
My grandmother's hand embroidered Irish linen bead spread circa 1920.
photo transfer linen handmade paper
sculptural wedding dress, linen handmade paper
images cyanotype positive and negative image on linen handmade paper