A former co-worker of mine is currently holding an art exhibit at the Glenbow Museum here in Calgary and I finally managed to take it in yesterday afternoon (it ends on 5 September). Beyond the significance and meaning of the work, anyone interested in textile design and beadwork would be captivated by Pamela Norrish’s “Outfit for the Afterlife,” which features half a million glass beads. There isn’t a stitch of fabric here – the garments are created entirely from beads, painstakingly strung together with nylon thread. Not a single detail is missed – from the frayed, worn knees, rivets, zipper, and durable seams on the jeans, to the pocket and label on the t-shirt. To say that it is incredible is a massive understatement…and that’s even before you read about why she created it and how long it took her to do it. The piece was surrounded by works from other artists that reflected a similar theme, among them the black garments of a Victorian widow, an exquisite bead-and-embroidery velvet vest created and worn by a Ukrainian-Polish girl who had been imprisoned in Germany during World War II, and several beaded birth amulets made by indigenous North American peoples.
To read a review of the exhibit and see photos of Pamela’s “Outfit,” click here.
The curator of the exhibit wrote this piece for the Museum (unfortunately, I fear this link will not be permanent, but you will be able to read it until the show ends): click here.