Eye of the Needle
The Walrus|September/October 2020
Eye of the Needle
Bettina Matzkuhn maps the weather one stitch at a time
ABI HAYWARD

DRAMATIC SWIRLS OF white thread bind rain-soaked clouds, bolts of blue and green trap intense winds, and atmospheric pressure fluctuates moodily on pearly-grey linen. Running stitches patiently over her hand-painted fabrics, Vancouver-based artist Bettina Matzkuhn brings a sense of stillness to something ever-changing. Matzkuhn’s series Weathering includes a collection of shifting weather patterns and climate phenomena embroidered onto twelve vibrant textile pieces all shaped like butterflies; the resulting kaleidoscope of fabric is called Schmetterlinge, the German word for butterflies.

For Matzkuhn, the elaborate work is a way to slow down and document the world as it changes around her. “The glacial pace of embroidery suits me,” she says. “It’s like thinking with your hands.” Each piece might take weeks to complete. With a needle and thread, Matzkuhn is trying to understand, worry about, and celebrate our natural systems.

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September/October 2020