press release

The English artist Rowena Dring is a person who strives for a new approach to landscape. At first glance, her works appear like conventional painting. On closer examination, however, they reveal themselves as stitched images composed of countless single pieces of coloured fabric, each one a different size. The images are based on photographs that the artist took on trips; the motifs are drawn using a computer program into flat colourfield images. Then the reduced fragments of the image are transferred to the fabric by hand. Finally, Dring cuts the countless fragments and sews them together with a conventional sewing machine into a new image. Therefore Dring reorganises the existing landscape: First breaking it into pieces, then reducing it to mere form and assigning each one a colour. The abstraction of the subject simultaneously leads to a hyperbole. An exaggerated colour field is created because of the plurality of composite, monochrome areas of colour. Dring's work reminds us of painting by numbers kits, motifs from comic magazines or camouflage patterns.

Dring’s purpose is not to create a nostalgic view of landscape painting but it informs her work as a means to an end. She consistently draws attention to idylls of "peaceful countryside" and romantic places. However in view of their related ambivalence she plays with their laconic images and thereby exposes the shallowness of such ideas. Dring reveals that our image of "perfect" nature is a cultural construction.

Dring began making her '70's-home-craft-inspired stitched paintings in the late 1990s. She did this in response to the emerging flood of cheap mass products from the Far East, which brought into question the traditional notion of value, quality and ethics. Today, cheap textiles and other consumer goods from Asia are standard. Values, quality and ethics no longer matter, what matters alone is the lowest possible price and fast and almost infinite availability. Dring questions with her technique perceptions of value and how we deal with such questions.

For the first time in the exhibition Home Lands, there will be prints of her digital drawings, which are part of the development process, next to the new sewn images.

Rowena Dring lives and works in Amsterdam.