This embroidered ‘intervention’ mounted on a window of the Peacock Tower bird hide at the London Wetland Centre explores the laborious methods of habitat management used to maintain the grazing marsh visible beyond the artwork.
The verb ‘to stitch’ derives from the Germanic word meaning to stab or pierce. Despite this association with harmful practices, stitching is concerned more with methods of mending or healing (both physically, as in darning holes, and spiritually as a therapeutic activity.)
Drawing upon this paradox, the process of stitch is used to think through the tensions between the wild and managed landscape beyond the window of the hide. Reflecting on what might seem destructive methods of conservation such as cutting, mowing and uprooting, the needle is used to pierce and break down the fabric whilst embellishing it with thread chosen to reflect the colours and textures of the landscape. Mirroring the continual accumulation of sediment and spread of species that would eventually turn the marsh to woodland, the thread is knotted and looped as the stitches ‘colonise’ the view. Simultaneously mimicking the image of a tranquil nature haven and beginning to obliterate it, the embroidery draws attention to the labour invested in creating the landscape, whilst recognising its own quiet but relentless agency.
Audio Description Transcript
Intervention by Lizzie Canon
Situated on the 2nd floor of the Peacock Tower is the embroidered panel ‘Intervention’ by Lizzie Canon. The piece is so named because it covers one of the Hide windows creating an intervention or filter through which to view the grazing marsh outside. Measuring 71cm wide and 16.5cm high, the embroidery is framed in a light blond unvarnished wood and fits precisely over the Hide window which is situated at head height when seated on the bench provided. The work is stitched onto a very fine, transparent white gauze. The stitching seems almost like a coloured pencil sketch of the landscape outside.
The web-like, fine stitching, in shades of green, brown, mauve and orange wraps around the edges of the fabric, curving and undulating like the inlets of the waterways. Densely packed wavy lines of stitches are visible when viewed up close. Where the fabric is heavily stitched, the gauze has shredded causing a spider web effect. From a distance, the work appears to be a drawing of the landscape outside. Only up close is the intricate and finely spun web of stitching visible.