I am descended from Belorussian weavers and Scottish wool mill workers, and raised in an environment of strong creative feminine energy that persisted through generations of trauma and hardship. My work is birthed as an exploration of that inherited and experienced trauma, and a close relationship with my own mortality. In fibre art, I am soothed and find intimacy and connection, the way being enveloped in soft blankets or playing with a lover’s hair is soothing.
The last nine months have radically inverted the role of the mask-wearer. Where, in February, a mask was an expression of defiance and defensiveness - an armour for the psyche - it now carries an intention of generosity on the part of the wearer towards their fellow humans, an acknowledgement of a common vulnerability and a reciprocal duty of care.
Pre-pandemic, the mask allowed the wearer to access anonymity and lower an emotional veil. Now, the mask is a public expression of concern and, rather than abstracting from the identifiably human features of the face, positions a conspicuous attention towards the mouth and nose, our sudden awareness of the invisible airflows of respiration and their microscopic potential for infection. Masks have become intrinsically linked with breath, and so, with life.
At this time, my mask-work in the medium of wool in its raw form seeks to deploy its polarities - fragility and strength - in aiming to both pacify and provoke; to encourage finding safety in soft places, to validate the urge to hide away while not always able to remain hidden, and to recognize and bring to life, to wear on my face, the chaos and disorder that exists both internally and in the world today.