Anita Bruce – Gee Family Tree


‘Gee Family Tree’ is a development of a series of work, ‘Felled’. Her tree rings are drawn from life using simple hand stitched marks to reference man’s need to control nature. Anita’s background as a Zoologist turned artist shows a fascination with the delicate balance of the natural world, the cycle of life and the passage of time. She works with both stitch and structural forms to suggest a fragile web of connections. ‘Gee Family Tree’ is hand stitched on linen and incorporates the family’s names. It is displayed in a facsimile of Thomas Johnson’s book on his botanical journeys in Kent and Hampstead. The textile depicts a specific felled oak, found on a recent visit to Hampstead Heath, near to Fenton House. The names of generations of the Gee family merge with the rings, visible as the marks of time, representing the generations that build, layer on layer, the history of the house. The oak tree symbolizes the strength of the family and Quaker heritage, showing the fractures and faults of the inherent tragedies and difficulties of this family’s life.

The tree symbolizes the strength of family and their Quaker heritage, with the fractures and faults representing the inherent tragedies and difficulties of family life. The names merge in with the rings which represent the generations that build, layer on layer, the history of the house. They are visible as the marks of time, only reading as names with close inspection.

Anita has a background in working with heritage sites. Recently, textile artist in residence at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, her work for the residency involved research into the travels of the Herring Girls along the East Coast. Her series of knitted ‘Gansey Fish’ incorporate both traditional and new patterns influenced by the museum’s collections and her research. ‘UnEarthed : Clare’, a residency and exhibition of site-specific sculptural works in John Clare’s birthplace, commemorated the 150th anniversary of the poet’s death. Anita’s work ‘Pen scribbled o’er with ink’, a large installation of soft sculpture birds screen printed with Clare’s handwriting and her own asemic text, was housed in his dovecot. The prints derived from research into Clare’s bird poetry and his ‘Bird Lists’. For a residency at Burghley House, Anita installed two site-specific works in the State Rooms. ‘Trophy Birds’ responded to the opulence and wealth on display, it’s abundance of avian and hunting imagery. Oversized digitally printed silk feathers, incorporate imagery from the House’s painted ceilings and tapestries. The jewel-like ‘Golden Canary’ is hand knitted in gold plated, silver wire as an homage to Jean Demontreuil’s intricate ‘Carving of a Dead Bird’ and referenced the keeping of canaries in the house in the Elizabethan era, the canaries a treasured possession and a sign of great wealth. Anita was commissioned by the Royal Naval Museum on Portsmouth to create work to be displayed alongside the museum’s collection. She referenced the ornate braiding on naval dress uniform in creating a series of exotic sea creatures. Her ‘Knitted Plankton’ series were shown in a Cabinet of Curiosities at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House and as a core reef contributor to the ‘Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef’ project, her plankton have been exhibited at the Hayward Gallery and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Medium: hand stitched on linen, found book

Dimensions: 28 x 4 x 1 cm


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Anita Bruce – Gee Family Tree
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