Suzi Joel
Gift from the sea
2017

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About

Guilded looks out for artists working materials, natural or man-made, in new and intriguing ways. The highlight of this year was the discovery of this work by artist Suzi Joel.

Flustra is the largest of a series of three works of varying size by this artist, all created with Flustra Foliacea - Horn Wrack. Horn Wrack is an abundant bryozoan that grows all around the temperate waters of the North Atlantic seaboard. It is collected on the beach after storms and high tides. At first it is easy to mistake for seaweed but in texture it is like a flat dried sponge.

The Flustra series is the latest in the oeuvre of this artist, whose creative history is interwoven with a variety of materials through which she explores the marriage of elements and process of attachment. Her thought process contemplates the meaning of attachment through uniting, binding and weaving, and through association changing the significance of material or word.

Flustra is itself an organic material that binds itself to a substrate such as rock and spreads, and when it runs out of space it grows upward, its length determined by the strength of the tides. Yet its vulnerability in a storm seems to parallel the human experience, becoming detached and separated. However, as humans we have the capacity to form new attachments and relationships. It is Joel’s way that in this she sees multiple layers of meaning and she presents us with a material in a new way, challenging us to think about attachment and connection.

In researching the conservation qualities of Fluster Foliacea we discovered a little known sliver of history: the craze in Victorian times for collecting seaweed and amateur scientific naturalism. We were signposted to the perfectly preserved 150 year old collection of a Margaret Getty, a Victorian woman and author of the definitive tome “British sea weeds” at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland.

Amateur science became hugely popular for women who in a time of strict social and moral conduct created the democratisation of natural history by transcending social perameters and meeting on the seashore or sharing their knowledge by mail. Seemingly in a natural parralel, as Charlotte Bowater of Guilded and the artist did when they first met to collect Flustra on a beach 150 years after Margaret Gatty, they too made connections, sharing their respective journeys to that point, the beach and the artwork transcending all social norms of sharing profundities. So, Flustra, is far more than an intriguing piece, it is living conceptual art through which a material which knows no borders create connections far beyond itself.

Details

  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Dimensions
    47.24 in. H x 47.24 in. W x 1.97 in. D
  • Seller Location
    Shaftesbury, United Kingdom
  • Reference Number
    LU1032068883
About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2012

Typical response time: 1 hour

Located in Shaftesbury, Dorset

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