Panniers and vessels: natural cotton rope and/or paper cord, machine-stitched
Carmella Karijo Rother engages uncomplicated materials, tools and processes which resonate with her reflective manner of working, seen in the clean lines and pure forms of her pieces. The natural colours of the materials complement this direction towards clarity and simplicity, referencing the origins of the materials.
Carmella’s home and studio are nestled in Gatineau Park, Quebec among century-old pines hung with pails for maple sap in the spring and flaming with colour in the fall. Her love of nature – the beauty, wonder and tranquility she finds there – is woven throughout her life.
She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University. Her first career was in the field of nature interpretation and education, working at Ontario Parks and the Canadian Museum of Nature before she became a full-time artist.
Carmella’s work is in the City of Ottawa’s Fine Art Collection and Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection. She has participated in group exhibitions across North America and had solo shows at Wall Space Gallery (Ottawa), Harbinger Gallery (Waterloo), General Fine Craft (Almonte) and Darrell Bell Gallery (Saskatoon). She has also been featured at the International World of Threads Festival in Oakville, Ontario. In 2019, her work will be featured in the Biennale Internationale du Lin de Portneuf, Deschambault, Quebec.
Silk canvasesThe abstract imagery of my silk canvases evolved from Quilt Art, wall hangings made with cotton fabrics in a more narrative style. Each silk piece has hundreds of iterations of a basic shape such as a curve or a trapezoid, covered with curved lines of stitching that flow in parallel marks across the canvas. The cut, layered and sewn assemblages are mounted on artist canvases, and have a painterly quality. It is when people come close and discover the reflective qualities of the silk and the stitched marks, that they see the work as textile in origin.
Making felt with carded wool has been described as a magical process of alchemy. When I became interested in the medium of felt it was with a view to creating 3-dimensional pieces. I was inspired by the idea of the pieces being held. Felt has a beautiful texture, and I have worked to enhance this, often using white wool, sometimes adding criss-cross lines of colour in black and red, my favourite combination with white. Of all the materials I have worked with, the felt pieces have been the most physical and the most challenging: being able to make sculptural pieces with wisps of carded wool never ceases to amaze me.One of the challenges in making sculptural fibre work is that the material is soft and pliable. I have developed techniques that allow the pieces to retain a firmness while preserving the inherent characteristics that initially drew me to the medium.
Panniers and vessels
Over time, I’ve come to learn that the process I favour involves working with few materials and simple ones, in being engaged in exploring the properties of each one. Currently I am discovering what I can do with a humble material frequently found in our homes: rope. To make the panniers and vessels I guide cotton and paper rope on an industrial sewing machine in one continuous spiral, from the centre coil to the top edge. Panniers are the earthier and often functional ones; vessels are studies in line, shape and volume. I think of them as pirouetting slowly round and round, as the pieces emerge.My sculptural pieces are intended to be appealing to the visual and tactile senses, to create an imaginative space to breathe, reflect and contemplate. Simplicity, grace and organic forms are what please me in my work. My goal is to make things of beauty that bring moments of joy and reflection into our homes. –C. Karijo Rother
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