Exhibition runs October 7th to November 4th, 2020
This exhibition is part of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition Program.
Curated by Genevieve Farrell
between-ness is a solo exhibition of ten assemblages by emerging artist Hannah Petkau. In her twenty-six pieces, Petkau utilizes materials such as driftwood, woven wire, clay, fibres, seeds and rope to create works that are both corporeal and ephemeral. She explains, “I reserve an intentional ambiguity to the origin and intent of my objects. The collection is comprised of objects both found, transformed and constructed that realize the collaboration between human and natural actions.” This collaboration may initially seem abstruse in intent, with contradictory components, but her approach is intentional.
Petkau has unique abilities. Clever, thoughtful and extremely creative, she also displays masterful craftsmanship. She can observe an object and envision its transformation, and she possesses the ability to intricately and expertly alter material to bring her vision to fruition. The outcome generates an intimate opportunity for the viewer to visually engage with delicately woven fibers positioned beside a saw-cut shard of wood, or a knot of rope hanging from an antique railway tie placed beside a piece of a wasp nest. She works with found natural and manufactured materials, skillfully reconstructing them to change their purpose. Petkau finds materials everywhere. “I acquire items on walks, at a thrift store or in other day-to-day occurrences. They are artifacts of interactions. Shards of wood and fabric, fragments of wasp nest, rocks and pieces of metal and plastic are a few of the items that end up in my studio.”
Originally from British Columbia, Petkau spent her childhood walking the shoreline collecting objects. This experience had an immense impact on her artistic practice and has influenced her aesthetic, processes and concepts. Petkau finds a balance between transformation and familiarity, creating a visually simplistic but complex fabricated body of work—one in which the natural world and the manufactured world intersect.
About the Artist
Hannah Petkau grew up on the Gulf Islands of British Columbia and is currently based in Calgary, Alberta where she completed her BFA with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2015. Her affinity with materials began at an early age when the twice-daily tides washed up an endless source of inspiration, plastic, plywood and rope were collected and assembled with driftwood, rocks and shells.
Her practice continues to negotiate this interplay. The integration of found materials and objects, which are manipulated both by her hands and by previous unknowns, blur the differentiation of human and natural actions and exist in an intermediate space.
Much of the world in which we live has been touched, enlivened and reformed, leaving marks and traces of a previous existence. Perceptions of what is natural and artificial have become intertwined, a duality that can no longer be kept separate. I seek to exist in this intermediate space.
I reserve an intentional ambiguity to the origin and intent of my objects. The collection is comprised of objects both found, transformed and constructed, that realize the collaboration between human and natural actions. Acquired on walks, at a thrift store or in other day-to-day occurrences, they are artifacts of interactions. Shards of wood and fabric, fragments of wasp nest, rocks and pieces of metal and plastic are a few of the items that end up in my studio. Then there are those artifacts that are a mystery to me… Some of these pieces are left to their own devises, and my hands further manipulate others. There are also those that do not yet have a prior existence, made for the intention of furthering the discourse between the counter artifacts. Intimate processes with thread, wire and clay, construct the imagined, or mimic reality.
The unusual forms and materials promote intrigue of all the possible interactions, both past and potential. I aim to create a balance between all of these components, each dependent on one another, while denying the impulse to impose a hierarchy. Individually they carry a certain duality or contradiction, which when combined, develops dialogs of how materials are perceived and interpreted.