The pitta is an Australian rainforest bird. Brilliantly feathered: orange rump, emerald back, cream breast with streaks of pale blue and bronze top, it nevertheless wears an anxious demeanour. As it nests among the roots of giant trees it is constantly on the lookout for predatory carpet pythons, slithering across the ground litter in search of a meal. The parent birds enthusiastically feed their chicks to encourage their growth and flight to freedom among the treetops.

Pitta, 19 cms H X 16cms W. Naturalism is a western child of the Romantic age, when verisimilitude seemed to place the maker and viewer close to nature. In the earlier Elizabethan age, the sordidness of its social reality possibly encouraged its poets to cultivate artifice, artificiality, as an escape. The classical age was consummate in its pursuit of artifice. Japanese art and craft allowed the qualities of natural materials to become part of the finished work. The shinto or animist component of that culture would have encouraged a naturalist inclination. However artisans balanced this with a taste for abstraction, and combined the two contradictory tendencies in a yin yang balance.

In my case, I have referenced the middle period of artists Jawlensky and Kandinsky where naturalism was becoming stylised and the artists were clearly moving towards abstraction. In my work Pitta the emergence of marks and gestures that resemble the vocabulary of khelim weaving is a gratifying result. Art, after all, imitates art as often as it imitates nature.  As a result the mark making tends towards abstracting ambiguity as often as it constructs naturalist narrative.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
This entry was posted in fibre, finished work, indigenous birds, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, khelim, loom, narrative, pitta, tapestry. Bookmark the permalink.

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