Saskia Bunce-Rath weaves a series of uneasy yet alluring visions with we bled on the grass but we didn't wake. Conscious of impending environmental disaster, the artist intertwines contemporary embroidery and poetry to question fantastic futures in a post-humanity landscape. Taking cues from slippery arts and craft histories, earth magics and biography, pieces conjure new mythologies in their own formal language, a Carrollian nonsense of line and colour.
Above shifting sunset planes, alien forests bloom and psychedelic starbursts trail sparks across midnight skies. Changeling creatures stir, their claws and fox-like ears morphing into lancing peaks and pinnacles, winged shades with glowing eyes. These evocative inhabitants wander oblivious, preoccupied with pagan deliberations and bacchanal. Carefully ordered, these dimensions conjure both a release and a quiet - a kind of hazy celestial atmosphere that is at once ominous and unperturbed.
The liminal realm of we bled on the grass but we didn't wake is made tangible by the artist’s intricate textile practice. The inherent labour of these embodied objects lends a curious tension, an irrepressible hand-felt desire to touch, tempered by sympathetic reflex for the artist’s aching fingers. Each painterly translation is painstakingly worked into being, invoking expansive cosmic environs in minute stitches, the record of long hours and a hundred-hundred repeated gestures.
Bunce-Rath’s intimately scaled pieces pose a quandary of fluid dimensionality. Lush embroidery meanders across the ground in a woozy current of Expressionist movement. Stars spin overhead as ripples of thread on calico give way to immersive pools and elusive planes. These looking-glass fragments offer a vantage from which one might observe private rituals, unseen - irresistible portals onto imagined worlds.
Accompanying poetry by Bunce-Rath deepens this mystery. Passages extend little by way of definitive inroads or illumination; the absorptive attitude and personal positing of the artist’s words instead, act to implicate the viewer in sensuous phenomenology. Hypnotically fixed in place, audiences are enticed to lose themselves in the unfamiliar lands of her making, drawing emotive effect from pointed yet pleasurable ambiguity.
A heady mix of comfort and apprehension, object and implied action, these multi-faceted treasures speak to an attuned understanding of medium. We bled on the grass but we didn't wake - the strange fruit of a study in mythopoesis and quasi-narrative, imagines a vibrant post-collapse cosmology in the considered interplay of linguistic and aesthetic.
Saskia Bunce-Rath, we bled on the grass but we didn't wake
City Art Depot, 96 Disraeli Street, Sydenham
8 – 28 June
- Saskia Bunce-Rath, I dreamt of strange men finding my teeth and turning them into crowns as they danced across the ground (2021). Embroidery thread on calico. Image courtesy of the artist and City Art Depot, Christchurch. Photograph: Cameron Ralston