Site-specific installation (discarded fabric flowers from Newfoundland cemeteries, limited edition serigraph)
St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Elliston
August 17 – September 15 2019
How do we balance our feelings of loss and hope in small communities? What makes us notice loss? What makes us notice hope? Jane Walker, based year-round in Bonavista, broached these questions with the eight junior-high students at St. Mark’s School in King’s Cove. Out of this poignant discussion, Barb Hunt and Walker drew on their own experiences of life in rural Newfoundland to develop a coded message.
Mining Newfoundland’s rich tradition of domestic textile practices as well as rituals of mourning specific to the island, Hunt and Walker created an installation that moves through death and decline in rural communities towards hope. The challenges of out-migration combine with the aging and waning population on the Bonavista Peninsula to deepen the rugged realities of living on and with the North Atlantic ocean, where death has always been a familiar presence among the living.
For Hunt, mourning rituals mark the slow passage of time and heal wounds between the past and the present. Walker’s research-based practice centres on sustainability in rural contexts, using craft-based research methodologies and making as a tool for sharing. In a flowing line of flowers emanating from a limited-edition print and arching high above the altar, Hunt and Walker use Morse code to spell out This slow loss reminds us to move in constant repetition around the interior of the church sanctuary. The installation of discarded fabric flowers gathered from outside rural cemeteries in Newfoundland evokes the ongoing struggle of balancing loss with hope and the possibilities beyond.
Text by Matthew Hills, Bonavista Biennale 2019 Curator
Photos by Brian Ricks