Brette Gabel: Home Is Where You’re Happy
Curated by Blair Fornwald, Assistant Curator
April 2 to June 1, 2016
Artist Talk and Reception: Saturday, April 2, 1:00-3:00 pm
Born and raised in rural Saskatchewan, Brette Gabel uses quilting and embroidery techniques learned from her mother and grandmother to explore the boundaries of comfort and discomfort as they relate to family, memory, and the domestic sphere. Home Is Where You’re Happy includes numerous renderings of Gabel’s childhood home, an iconic 1910 era Eaton’s catalogue kit house, drawn from memory.
A delicate 3D model of the house, entitled Not How I Remembered It, is constructed of quilted and embroidered hand-dyed muslin. Inflated so that it moves slightly and quivers as if it is alive, it sits atop the sturdy kitchen table from Gabel’s current home. The house is also rendered two-dimensionally, from various angles onto fabric and paper, with cotton threads both tracing the contours of the structure and entangling to obscure the images in nebulous clouds. Gabel’s newest work addresses her current life as a new parent – she has produced series of quilted baby blankets with patterns based on international maritime signal flags, used by sailors to communicate messages of warning or distress. Working in a muted, almost somber colour palette and addressing personal subjects with composure, eloquence and understated humour, Gabel’s work avoids sentimentality . Simultaneously beautiful and uncanny, her works articulate the ways that memory and biography haunt the present and imbue the handmade object with significance.
Brette Gabel, Home Is Where You're Happy (Installation View), 2016. Photo by Don Hall.