A large volume lays open on the table, pages delicately stacked upon each other. Small white threads are loosely and randomly draped between the sheets of golden paper. What almost appears to be braille from afar, reveals itself to be the most intriguing texture. Upon closer inspection, I realize that each printed letter on every page is carefully covered in a relaxed hand-stitched manner, creating layers of intricately woven patterns. The book represents a year’s worth of painstakingly slow work, symbolizing living in Italy with the inability to speak the native language, allowing Jennifer Bowes to immerse herself in the unheard 'voices' in process-based work.
Each piece of art created by Bowes is a testament to her immense patience and passionate perseverance for the process of creating. Through the repetition and the continuance of her work, Bowes finds her artistic expression. The largest piece of work stands 8’ x 14’ tall and is produced entirely of individually hand folded, one inch origami boxes shaped from the pages of Jennifer’s old diaries and notes. Each box is sewn together to form an incredibly sophisticated and compelling structure that captures and holds your attention in a most enigmatic way.
A full-time Mother to her 18 month old daughter Ellie, as well as the co-owner/operator (with husband Trevor) of Riverside Farms, Jennifer has currently undertaken another immense task of running a community based weekly market garden delivery program from her home. With a Master of Fine Arts in Drawing, Bowes is the epitome of a creator, always busy pursuing a variety of new projects. "Some are useful and practical, others are purely aesthetic with my main interest being in process-based work — this can manifest itself in art projects or farm related work,” explains Bowes.
Jennifer has recently embarked on what may well be her most time-consuming project thus far. Pursuit of certain specific tactile and fibrous qualities which are not widely available in Canada has led Bowes to take it upon herself to up-breed the type of sheep that will produce the luxurious wool she envisions. The early stages began with hours of hands on research; spinning, knitting and cataloguing a large variety of raw wool from countless types of rare and heritage sheep. “This all relates to my love of process and understanding all aspects of the material. The more you know about the very basics, the better you can understand the entire process,” clarifies Jennifer. The farm is currently home to a number of different breeds of sheep including the rare Gotlands sheep from Sweden, which produces soft, rippled, almost fluid-like, silvery-blue, brown and black wool. With the advantage of being able to oversee the process and origin of materials, Riverside Farms will have raw, roving and spun wool with sheep rugs available for purchase locally in the late fall.
"My art related work has become seasonal out of necessity. The summer is very demanding, being a mom is very demanding. You must allow time for reflection, to give yourself the time and space to realize the beauty around you so that you can get some distance from what you are doing in the everyday, ” reflects Bowes.
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