Berg is a series of abstract, hand-sewn fabric collages that tell a story of place, belonging, and personal transformation.
I began Berg during a residency in Berlin, where I went searching for a new home but instead felt constantly unsafe and afraid. I did however, find that the city still had a gift for me in the form of free clothing placed by residents on the streets. I began to collect, wash and iron these clothes and cut them up to sew back together into something new. Working at night, on a small table in my room I improvised, working blind: cutting, pinning and sewing each piece of fabric in response to the previous one, allowing the form to grow organically, to be revealed in its entirety only upon display and completion.
Later, in more familiar locations in England and Canada, and with more light and space to work in, my process evolved. Working now with leftover fabric scraps from my own collection, I decided to gather and pin all the fragments for each piece together before sewing. This new method, more akin to painting, allowed for experimentation - adding and subtracting fabrics, overlaying colours and patterns - with the complete, emerging piece on view at once.
Using fabric scraps to make something new has always been a part of household thrift. Abstract design has a long history in both domestic craft and contemporary arts, from the quilts of Victorian England and the Amish at the turn of the 20th century to Robert Rauschenberg’s collages and Tracy Emin’s blankets. There is a curious fascination with the component parts of the work itself – the feel of the fabric, the contrasts of colours and textures and the evidence of slow, repetitive hand sewing in the visible stitches.
Berg represents a tangible history. Like maps, this series combines material evidence from my present while evoking memories of the past. Whether the curve of a familiar neckline, or upholstery recognised from childhood, each fabric fragment takes us instinctively to a memory - and through piecing them together, something new is made.