The Peace of Collecting

Stepping into the Solo Show Room at the Yukon Artists @ Work Co-operative, this month, feels wide open and peaceful.

To create Stones Bones Berries: The Art of Collecting, Kerry Fletcher has removed the moveable walls that transform the sunroom into a picture gallery. She’s hung strings of rosehips in front of the windows and has carefully placed small bundles of willow branches in two corners of the room.

The red rosehips lead the eye outside into the world. The gallery becomes a still place to reflect on what is found out there.

Perhaps the rose hips also attract the red dots that are ripening beside many of the small assemblages on the wall.

These miniature wall hangings use a cross stick at the top as a structure for the monofilament hanging strings. They suspend one or more weathered or scorched pieces of wood.

Some of these bear simple, found bone, stone or shell objects, just as they are, for the viewer to appreciate their beauty. Others group these objects to create small figures or other patterns.

On similar lines, in the wall hanging Biscuit, Fletcher has scorched 36 small wooden lozenges used in woodworking joinery and has strung them in six strings, six biscuits high. On each black face, she’s assembled a flower of “Northern Bastard Toad Flax” berries, dentalium shells and porcupine quills.

Fletcher also has a number of sculptural pieces on display. Two plinths support Bird Dog and Bird #2. These winsome creatures are based on a piece of driftwood, which gives the bodies a sense of alert posture.

Bird Dog has a found metal spring sprouting out of its head and dried berries spotting its body. He carries a glass bone, made by Jeanine Baker, in his mouth.

Fletcher has used her own hand-forged metal hooks as Bird’s feet. Both possess real presence, as does the Nature Spirits on another small section of wall.

Nature Spirits (like quite a few other pieces) is not for sale. Pieces that are for sale have numbers beside them. Work is often presented this way at higher-end galleries in the south, but seldom in the Yukon.

The effect is pleasant and peaceful. One’s attention is not distracted by too many tags, which would have weighed down many of these little pieces. The price list is available on a plinth outside the door.

Seven of Fletcher’s signature found-stone necklaces stand on plinths as the show’s centrepiece. They refer to the seven “chakras” that are part of yogic philosophy. They trace a spectrum from the first chakra, which is associated with red, home, the earth and a place below the tailbone of the seated human, up the spine through orange, yellow, through to indigo and purple just above the crown of the head.

Each necklace is shown on a white display stand with cloth of its colour beneath it, almost suggesting an outfit that might be worn with the necklace.

Fletcher has taken her necklaces to a conceptual place here. I’m not sure how the berries in the First Chakra necklace, also named Stones Bones Berries, will stand up to wear.

She includes amethysts and seed beads in her necklaces, as she usually does, but also wood, bone and shell. She lists where each of the materials came from. Each necklace becomes a kind of poem about the associations with that chakra.

Fletcher has also invested in a wider drill bit. She uses this to turn flat, round stones into rings. Then she uses an I-shaped stone with a small hole as a toggle. She was using silver findings for the clasps for her necklaces. It’s exciting to see her use the stone itself for this purpose.

Over the years of her career as an artist, which included an intensive career in glass, Fletcher has taken part in many group shows. This is her first solo show and she has taken on the task of creating an overall experience for the viewer, with elegance, professionalism and attention to detail.

Stones Bones Berries is on display until Sept. 27.

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