The Welcome Stranger
Jul 9 – Aug 28 2021
artist in attendance
Jul 10 | 2 – 5 pm
Jul 24 | 2 – 5 pm
Norberg Hall is delighted to present The Welcome Stranger, an exhibition of new work by Calgary artist Yvonne Mullock. A graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, Mullock is intrigued by materiality and process-based work. Incorporating collage, sculpture, ceramics, video and textiles the multidisciplinary artist continues to explore the boundaries of intimacy, touch and the body within her wide ranging practice. The Welcome Stranger includes monoprints, hooked rugs and a large textile-based installation all of which were produced in the last eighteen months during isolation.
This exhibition takes its name from the largest piece of gold found by two prospectors in 1869 in the gold fields of Bulldog Gully, Australia. Weighing 72 kg, the gold nugget christened The Welcome Stranger, was not photographed before it was broken into pieces for weighing. It now only exists as a replica, taken from a drawing made from memory of those who saw it.
This title alludes to the familiar customs only enacted with ones dear to us. The act of welcoming strangeness perhaps evokes a kind of trust, an act of faith. This gesture has been adopted by the artist in both the process and concept; being generous to the peculiar and friendly with unknown processes.
Unknowing, a series of monoprints feature some of the artist’s favourite worn clothes: torn golden brown pants, frayed and worn panties, a trusty maroon bra and stretched knee socks among others.
Print studios like galleries have been closed during the pandemic and as such the artist used her car as an ad-hoc press, running over her inked clothes in order to create a the artwork mono print while destroying the clothing items in the process. Somewhat akin to the artists earlier work Dark Horse which utilized the weight of a horse to create prints. These prints are simple and minimalist using black ink alone, creases and ripples in the paper running through the prints act as reminders of the process. They are composed in such a way that allow for a multiple readings; panties look like masks used to rob banks, socks are configured to resemble cross bones and pantyhose are reminiscent of bunny ears. Each work is framed in a palette of collective bold colours that represents the former hues of the featured garment. The trace each piece of clothing has left as its imprint opens the viewer to a new perspective; ethereal and mysterious, pants, bras, panties and knee socks all take on a transparency similar to an x-ray revealing the inside and outside of their past lives. Once utilitarian, each clothing item is a representation of the artist’s body, the human whose skin once touched its surfaces reminding the viewer of our frailty and fragility.
The three hooked rugs in the exhibition are made from discarded clothes and other materials collected by the artist. In these works Mullock brings together a traditional art form with pithy millennial catchphrases. The artist was introduced to the art of rug hooking in 2010 when she was invited to participate in a community craft workshop at Fogo Island Arts on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. From there she began to experiment with the medium bringing text which speaks to the mundanity. Historically hooked rugs were not considered art per se but rather necessities for warmth and economic necessity. Taking the art of hooked rugs outside of its traditional network allows Mullock to engage with this traditional medium. Fuck My Life features the words of the title spelled out in white against a black background encircling a tiny red heart in the centre. The tonal variations in the black background arose from the intermingling of faded t-shirts, washed out from years of wear. It’s ironic to find a phrase that gained popularity in 2007 on a rug made using such a traditional and outsider art form. Could’ve Should’ve Would’ve subverts another popular saying of the internet age. This phrase usually signals a feeling of wistfulness, nostalgia or guilt when looking back on life and recognizing things one regrets not doing. Mullock hooked the modal verbs in yellow, orange and pink on a white background with a red line through each one. Here the slight tonal variations in the white is achieved through using the sweat stains from the armpits of t-shirts, a remnant of the body that once wore the fabric. The phrase loses its original or intended meaning with the words crossed out instead suggesting an acceptance of the past. As with earlier works USE ME and HIT & MISS, the artworks will be installed on the floor of the gallery for visitors to experience, reinvestigating the original use of these art objects within this context.
The Welcome Stranger is a textile-based installation. Two large pink windsocks in the shape of hands (the artist sees these as enlarged versions of her own hands) are animated by two fans. They dance, wobbling and gently clapping, waving viewers in to the space. The idea for the artwork arose from earlier investigations into textiles, in particular the history of gloves and glove making. These objects represent touch and hold traces of the body within their delicate stitches and fingers.
The Welcome Stranger gently sways, brushing its fingers and palms together saying a silent hello to each visitor.
As with previous work, the pieces in The Welcome Stranger weave a compelling perspective into an alternative understanding of our bodies and place in the world. Mullock’s artworks speak to the fragility of the human body, a condition we have become terrifyingly familiar with over the past year and a half. The exhibition is perfectly timed, an offering of kindness, humour and a critical look at how we can relate to each other in a post-pandemic world through the lens of humour, a reprieve or pause from reality.
– Maeve Hanna | Art Writer
[to be noted ]
mask mandate | we’re safely open
As we move into Phase 3 and the provincial public health restrictions continue to be lifted, we want to assure our clients that their safety is still of utmost importance to us. In regards to the municipal mask mandate lifted on July 5, we want our clients to have the peace of mind that they are still entering a safe + healthy environment. Our gallery + frame shop staff will continue to wear masks + we kindly ask all visitors to wear theirs until July 31. We will continue to provide sanitizer, accommodate those who are still social distancing + allow private viewings. We no longer have a gallery capacity limit + are open regular hours for visits. Our online viewing rooms [OVR] will be ongoing for those not yet comfortable with IRL gallery experiences + collectors from afar.
Going forward at NH Fine Frames, we will continue framing consultations on an appointment-only basis. We’ve found this to be beneficial to everyone; allowing more time + attention for each individual client + their unique framing needs. One-hour framing appointments may be booked between Tues – Sat, 11am – 4pm.
Book HERE or call us at 403.206.9942