First, could you introduce us to you, and your work?
My name is Jolie Bird, I was born in Ontario and have lived in Canada my entire life. I have a diploma from Capilano University in Textiles; a Degree with distinction from the Alberta College of Art & Design in Fibre Arts, and a Masters of Fine Art in Craft from NSCAD University. I am currently living in Halifax but I will be moving back to Calgary at the end of June.
Within my art practice, I am interested in blurring the division between Art/Craft through the production of conceptual, technically proficient objects that incorporate both traditional and unconventional materials. Inspiration and resources come from various forms of art, craft, design and the everyday, resulting in my interdisciplinary approach to making things. Craft is my proficiency, use of materials, and techniques that require an investment of time. Despite working with varied materials, I continually work with fiber, incorporating a variety of traditional techniques both on and off the loom.
What instigated your movement into the creation of the Wrapped Object series?
Through an exploration into high contrasting patterns and readily available materials, I started wrapping ordinary consumer objects with a thin, mercerized cotton thread that resembles twisted rope. Chosen for its aesthetic qualities, the thread has a natural sheen, which absorbs light in ways that enhance and distort its appearance while creating a hypnotic swirling pattern once applied to the surface. Because it is a two-ply twisted cotton thread, it has a three-dimensional quality to it as well. The thread is adhered to the object with non-toxic glue by fingertip, the only other tools I use are scissors, and a toothpick to reach tight spots my fingers can’t.
My approach to wrapping objects is painfully slow and unorthodox, beginning with a strategically placed starting point followed by a great deal of labour and focus to completion. It requires deep concentration; however, slowly, it becomes hypnotic almost dream-like, to the point where my concentration blurs and material and process guide me.
Fibre, through its very nature, communicates time; like many other textile techniques, this binding process requires patience and longevity even though it is a relatively simple task, with the making process inherently connected to its meaning. The presence of the hand intertwined with laborious, established practices counter the constant advancements in technology. With this tactile process I present a contrast to technological advancements through a slow, repetitive process and decidedly low tech materials. The pattern marks a historical account of my process, each pass of the thread growing in size, inching slowly towards completion. Wrapping objects is an intimate interpretation of time between the object and the maker.
What informs your selection of one object over an other, when deciding which objects to wrap?
I began searching for common, everyday objects in thrift stores, at flea markets, antiques stores and the like, wrapping an assortment of unrelated household objects. During this process I started collecting everyday objects based on style and form and in most cases a sense of connection whether I associated them with some part of my past or their cultural iconography. I have been a collector for many years; my home showcases an assortment of eclectic objects, and artworks. Every item has a story, and I form a strong sentimental attachment to all objects.
In a sense they undergo a magnificent death, the once taken for granted symbols of the everyday have been removed from their surroundings, preserved within layers of thread and transformed through extensive manual labour such that they are transformed into precious objects of desire and contemplation, removed from and yet affirming the familiar realm of the everyday. In the objects that I wrap I am reinventing memory – or reinventing through imagination another way for memories and objects to exist.