Monday, March 30, 2009

"Tapatisserie" by Ruth Jones - FRESH PICKS V1E12

This months Fresh Pick is a blend of old and new, by master weaver and contemporary artist Ruth Jones. A strikingly contemporary portrait of a young girl holding a cake - the cake melding into the girl and the girl melding into the cake - rendered in the centuries old technique of discontinuous weave tapestry. A show-stopping piece at the recent exhibition at Gallery Atusi, Tapatisserie was completed especially for the "Let Them Eat Cake" exhibition.

Inspired by a pivotal scene in the 2006 Academy Award winning film Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola and contemplating the traditional historical creative outlets for women of so-called domestic arts, Let Them Eat Cake featured the work of three artists, in diverse mediums, who were asked to turn the entire concept on its ear. The modern world is driven by desire for sex, money and food, not necessarily in that order. Cake is a delicious metaphor for life. In response, Tap(àt)isserie by Ruth Jones was described by Jennifer Moss of the Vancouver Sun in a Feb. 2009 review as exquisitely crafted and slightly disturbing woven tapestry.....It features a woman holding out a melting pastry. The woman, with her hair piled on top of her head like some kind of elaborate St. HonorĂ© cake, somehow channels Marie Antoinette, whose glib remark in the face of starving French peasants is the basis for the title of this show.

Tapestry has a special place in the annals of art history - it was the most important figurative form of European art in 16th Century Europe. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has an entire department devoted to tapestry arts. The "weaving enthusiasts" who know thing or two about tapestry were blow away by Ruth's virtuosity on the loom. This type of weaving is completed entirely side-ways from the back-side and the artist does not see the right-side until the piece is completed. (Not to mention that small to mid-sized original tapestries by Ruth are typically valued at the price of a small car). Those of us who just love good contemporary art were amazed at the psychological tension in the image and the layers of interpretation related to food, sugar, consumption and female adornment.

In her artist statement Ruth explained the following about "Tapatisserie": “In France where I learned to weave, the French for Tapestry and for Pastry is very close; so close that in fact you can turn one word into the other with one letter swap. I also notice that both art forms require care and are in the making and share a role as custom creations given to commemorate an event, arrival or passage. I played with spelling the two names out as one word, and liked it very much, because, in the saying of it, the meaning becomes “Your Pastry” which suits the gesture of offering that I intend.”

Ruth is a member of the American Tapestry Alliance, the Canadian Tapestry Network and of S.T.A.R.S., a British Columbia-based tapestry initiatives organization. Following degrees in Classical Studies from the University of British Columbia and in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute, she completed the graduate program in Tapestry Design and Production from the National School for Decorative Arts in Aubusson, France. Her work and her commissions are included in the collections of IBM Corporate Headquarters, New York, Canada Governor General Official Residence, Ottawa; Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver; Nesbitt-Burns BMO, Vancouver; Intrawest Squaw Valley; and Canada Morgage & Housing Corporation, Vancouver.

For more information on Ruth Jones:
Click here to buy TAPATISSERIE starting from $45.00+