Roots are intriguing. They are an engagement – a plant’s engagement with the soil, a grounding, a base, an establishment, support to stand up and remain standing against outside forces and elements, a seeking of sustenance to survive, grow, and proliferate. Within a symbiotic natural balance the survival of a plant species harmonises with its host surroundings and contributes to its environment in a sustainable and renewable way. Without a symbiotic natural balance the plant instead becomes a noxious weed, invasively colonising itself, often as a foreign-introduced species, and creating chaos within the ecosystem.

In a metaphoric sense the same principles about roots apply, and administered to cultural heritage, can become a sociological exploration on personal, societal and global levels. Themes such as invasion, destruction, survival, adaption, belonging, hybridisation, naturalisation, acclimatisation, restoration, and reinvention begin to emerge. The subjects of this artwork are the Scotch Thistle and Scotch Heather, English Blackberry and Irish Ragwort, all plants introduced by colonising settlers, and through their innate survival mechanisms, progressing to become a virulent and damaging pestilence. They are both beautiful and horrendous in the same entity as a result of their own displacement, and an ongoing pattern of displacement via progressive invasion.

Fragmentation and reinvention are processes behind my art practice which lean into these themes. Collage, appliqué, spinning, weaving, crochet, knitting, quilting, beading and embroidery are all mediums for creating structures, and drawing and relief-sculpting within them. I am currently exploring the production of fabric yarns from shredded household linens imbued with experiential history and personal meaning. I am drawing on a familial ancestry of women’s handcrafts and seeking to enrich my art practice with new discoveries by researching my ancestry, and my own settler origins in Australia.

Frames have been included in this work, the symbology of which brings its own discourse about directive point of view, boundaries, values, structure or support, as well as a consideration of what exists outside the frame. In this instance the subject of invasive introduced plant species which have progressed to become noxious weeds are both escaping the frame, or growing beyond it. Left to its own devices the natural environment overtakes man-made structures, and yet within the current era of human existence our impact on the natural environment has come into sharp conservation focus. This work is intended to depict an underlying struggle between a man-made construct and elements of the natural environment, however as a metaphoric entity the invitation is inherent to vantages and discourse across multiple areas of social discord.

Spotlight illumination denotes the need for attention to these issues.

instagram: @sharonlesley.artspace



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Sharon Lesley