Being in Nature: When Me Becomes We
For many of us, the enforced isolation brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic has unexpectedly prompted both a rediscovery of nature and a reconnection to our inner lives.
Isolation has instigated a slowing down and a stillness that causes the mind to wander, to remember. Walking through the city’s green spaces, it as though we are reminded of who we are, as Toni Morrison might say, and how we are connected.
Marina Belintani's Japanese Knotweed experiments, transforming a problematic plant into new opportunities is a metaphor for the transformative process we are in the midst of. Her natural dyes and pigment extractions echo Hannah Elisabeth Jones’ forensic exploration of Local Colour; colours we encounter on daily walks, colours derived from foraged plants that pre-lockdown may have gone unnoticed. Sauntering in the city our senses reawaken. Air (Jinmei Wang). Land. Water. 23 Sunsets (Mengqian Ghe). Summer Grasses (Tess Whiting). The touch of Bamboo (Hsin-Chun Lin).
With idleness also comes play. Memories of childhood values, delighting in the small insignificant things, the past interrupting our present. Junghee Yoon’s crochet Doodles – a scribbled meditation on humour and play in everyday life. Wenxuan Zhou’s Little Sandbag – a wooden box of memories.
Lastly, Sne Tak’s organic Soft Vessels, inspired by her remembered past, ‘self-reliant’, ‘multi-faceted’, ‘able to change or be changed easily according to the situation’ … might this too, be a metaphor for the place we find ourselves
Dr Christine Checinska
Dr Christine Checinska’s work is situated at the meeting point between contemporary art, fashion and textiles. The cultural exchanges that occur as a result of movement and migration are recurring themes within her work, as she explores the relationship between cloth, culture and race.
Christine is the V&A’s Curator of African and African Diaspora Fashion, an Associate Researcher at VIAD, (Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre), University of Johannesburg, and a Visiting Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies at the RCA. She has worked as a creative designer in the fashion industry for over thirty years.
Christine’s PhD, Colonizin’ in Reverse! the Creolised Aesthetic of the Windrush Generation, was awarded by Goldsmiths in 2009. In 2016, she delivered the TEDxTalk Disobedient Dress: Fashion as Everyday Activism.
Recent publications include:
Althea McNish: Fabricating Modernism in The Fissures of Modernism: Collections, Cultures and Black British Artists - Sonia Boyce, David Dibosa and Susan Pui San Lok (eds.) Duke University Press. Forthcoming, Spinning a Yarn of One’s Own , in A Companion to Textile Cultures Jennifer Harris (ed.) Wiley-Blackwell Publications, 2020.
Re-fashioning African Diasporic Masculinities in Fashion and Post-Colonial Critique Elke Gaugele and Monica Titton (eds.) Sternberg Press, 2019
Aesthetics of Blackness? Cloth, Culture and the African Diasporas as guest editor of an African Diaspora special issue of Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture, Taylor & Francis Publications, 2018.
Social Fabric, Iniva, London, 2012
The Arrivants, FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 2016.