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Arbor Vitae

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  • Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist
    Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist
  • Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross
    Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross
  • Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross
    Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross
  • Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross
    Heather Cameron, Arbor Vitae (detail), 2012. Photo: Peter Ross

Region:
British Columbia
Date: 
2012
Dimensions: 
161 x 128 cm
Materials:
canvas, wool
Techniques:
crewel embroidery
Type:
embroidery

Donor/funder gift credit: 
Acquired from the 2012 Fibreworks Juried Exhibition



Description

For the last few years Cameron has been working on a series of large-scale embroideries based on the Codex Canadensis, the first natural history of Canada, created by 17th C. French missionary Louis...

For the last few years Cameron has been working on a series of large-scale embroideries based on the Codex Canadensis, the first natural history of Canada, created by 17th C. French missionary Louis Nicolas. Nicolas drew the flora and fauna he encountered in the New World in a naïve, fantastical style that reflects his awe and subconscious fear of nature. He did not draw from life. Instead, Nicolas relied on the engravings in reference books such as Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium as source material for his depiction of animals he had seen or heard of. Following the principle of analogies, he used quill pen and ink to illustrate creatures that often bore little resemblance to the actual animal.

The gestural quality and limitations of Cameron's medium of stitched thread both amplify and simplify the pen and ink lines of Louis Nicolas. She has strived to be true as possible to his original image, just as Nicolas endeavoured to accurately copy Gesner’s engravings. Yet, with each generation of the image, change occurs. Cameron sees this as an inevitable aspect of the process of translation between art forms. To this end, she adds elements of her own devising, layering systems of framing and classifying the world around us with the more oblique systems of symbol, dream and storytelling.




Artist Profile

Heather Cameron was born in 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has moved around Canada, living everywhere from big cities to isolated islands. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD...



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