Silver Line

Claire Hansen

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Sitting softly in the Faculty Gallery!

Silver Line is a series of beaded illustrations that take inspiration from contemporary comic panel and storyboarding formats to actively explore and play with ideas of narrative and suspended function.

By adopting loose themes of myth and storytelling in these tapestries, I hoped to create a body of work that mixes old forms of decoration with current styles of making and consuming stories.

These formats are usually just a step on the way to a larger project, a process and tool of storytelling used by many, though I believe they can exist as a beautiful piece aside from their function.

page 1, beads, thread, chiffon, wood frame 19″ x 24″

The work begins in the first ‘panel’ with seven stars, each one a sister in the glittering constellation known to astrologers as the Seven Sisters (or Pleiades, if you want to get fancy). Through a process unknown to the viewer, one of these stars begins a plummet to earth, the impact of which forms an imminent smoke cloud, and leaves the viewer to question its fate.

 Continuing in the next two panels, lead on a path of divine intervention and perhaps revenge, our dear Merope, a womanstar with wings that of a massive dove, sacrifices some and combusts others in a harsh yet gentle path of destruction.

Illustrating this story in this medium offered many challenges in control and refinement, as there are only so many lines you can make or details depicted before the image becomes indistinguishable. As well, In order to showcase the light-capturing properties of the glass silver-lined beads, as well as the silver beads themselves, a minimal colour palette was employed, keeping the shimmering silver hues front and centre. Throughout the story there becomes clear a distinction between the more ethereal matter that came from the stars – the clear beads – and the more grounded carbon of earth – the opaque beads.

This story, while also pulling bits of lore from greek mythology, was inspired by something a lecturer said in my first year here, a sentence that included the words “no divine right of kings”.

page 2, beads, thread, chiffon, wood frame 19″ x 24″

page 3, beads, thread, chiffon, wood frame 19″ x 24″

The medium of bead embroidery is a tedious and meditative one, tied to a long history of womanswork. Each flashy silver-lined Czech bead has been hand stitched to the chiffon bridal fabric using a tambour embroidery needle, a process traditionally aligned with couture.

Although repetitive in its creation, this dedication to detail allows little opportunity for rapid reproduction or mass distribution of the finished piece. Alongside the scintillating and opulent appearance of the beads individually, this creates an impression of redundancy that may juxtapose the utilitarianism of the visual formats roots.

Claire Hansen

Claire Hansen is an illustrator who grew up on Canada’s west coast. Her vivid dreams fuel a practice dealing in fantastical narratives that examine and then weave between notions of the everyday. While intuitive linework and curated colour palettes often suffice to explore these ideas, the allure of flexible materials and tedious textile work will never fail to help blow off steam and elevate her projects

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