In October 2017 I participated in an artist’s residency aboard a ship in the Arctic. We explored the remote and rugged land and seascapes of Svalbard, the island archipelago that rests between Norway and the North Pole. These images are from this unique experience.
This series is a reflection on the ways that humans are embedded in even the most remote landscapes. The creative process included contemplative time in the landscape, photographing small details as well as larger overviews, and collecting remnants of ocean plastics along shorelines. With the images captured, I created photo transfers on raw canvas, a lengthy process that allows for a tactile connection without access to darkrooms or chemicals. I then handstitched fragments of found rope into the pieces, contemplating the ways we (and our waste) are interlaced into the natural world, while at the same time imagining each stitch helping to mend the holes in the fabric of our planet. The bits of marine rubbish serve not only as a pop of color for visual interest, but also as a reminder that human impact is woven into every landscape, everywhere.
I enjoy the way image transfers allow photos to develop gradually, revealing themselves slowly under patient hands. It is a soothing process, reminding me at times of rubbing away concerns on a worry stone, relieving anxieties about the damage we continue to do to the environment. It requires patience and presence, and has allowed me to connect more deeply with the images I created in a brief moment in the Arctic. I like the unpredictability of the process as well, the imperfections and flaws, and the fractured lines and missing toner which add a sense of fragility, a nod to the fleeting nature of the Arctic. To see a stopmotion video of my image transfer process, visit clairedibble.com/process
I see this work as a commentary on consumerism, but I also seek to illustrate beauty in our current situation, an acceptance of reality. In so doing, I hope to encourage viewers to reconsider their own use or reuse of items, but also to treasure what is already here, both natural and manmade.
the original nine
In this digital age, I’m always looking for ways to spend less time in front of screens, less time in the digital darkroom and more time physically interacting with my art. With this in mind, I brought a few supplies on board the ship and made image transfers while at sea. I enjoy the way photos develop under patient hands with this process, and the time for reflection its tedium allows.
I found myself wishing for a little splash of color on the small pieces I was making during the residency, and without other art supplies like paint or pastels, I got creative. I used the bits of thread I’d brought as part of a mending kit first, then added pieces of colourful plastic rubbish that had washed up along the shoreline. At first, I hadn’t noticed the tiny bits of plastic, blending into the landscape, but when I started to seek them out, I saw them in unexpected nooks, and everywhere.
The nine originals were made under less-than-ideal conditions while aboard Antigua, with an old printer and poor lighting. I think of them as the sketches that served as a prelude to the rest of this exhibit.
This series was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Golden in February 2018. Several works are available for purchase, please inquire if interested.