Homage to El Greco Sebastian [Never Felt a Wound], 2010, button assembly, 120 x 92 cms
Homage to El Greco Sebastian [Never Felt a Wound] speaks of the human response to adversity: bushfire, flood or personal crisis. El Greco was born in a Cretan village, he studied the Italian masters, and settled in Spain, negotiating mannerist excesses and religious/political intrigue. His narrative resonates with the situation of refugees settling in Australia today, making difficult cultural adjustments. Button assembly may be an unusual medium, but it is firmly grounded in textile process. Its three components: canvas, upholsterer’s polyester thread and buttons together enable a rigorous visual exploration. Its recent ancestor would be arte povera. But reconstituting discarded materials was also the basis of various Depression folk crafts, such as rag rugs. Dadaist collage and figurative sequin embroidery are referenced in this work. Homage honours El Greco’s atmospheric evanescence with an impasto of colour and texture, and scumbled luminosity. As a textile it expresses the human condition.