After three years of traveling and manifesting itself the time has come to say goodbye to Woven Skin in its original form as an art installation and nomadic forum consisting of 60 hanging panels to be placed together in changing constellations and harboring essential global dialogue. Jongstra’s urgent message demanding attention for topics concerning ecology, colour and community will be continued in a new work of art and concept that will be revealed at the end of 2021. Galerie Fontana now has the honor to present Woven Skin and to start the process of letting the individual panels find their own way into significant art collections around the world, dispersing the worthy narrative and preserving it in diverse international locations.
In Woven Skin, essential elements of Claudy Jongstra’s life work and art have come together. On one hand, it was a 3D art installation offering a new dimension to the monumental part of Jongstra’s oeuvre. On the other hand it embodied a nomadic pavilion of communication and connection, bringing together many essential threads of Jongstra’s long-standing mission to make a better world ecologically, socially, economically, politically and in the fields of community building, preservation and transfer of knowledge and education.
In Jongstra’s own words: “The ‘interwoven’, the interconnectivity of everything and everyone, that is what Woven Skin is about. It is raw and disturbing like a skin that feels like been stripped off, skinned. For me, it represents the painful situation in which the planet now finds itself.
Woven Skin is truly a reflection of what lives inside me. The artist in me had to make it. I had no preconceived plan, idea nor image. What I did know is that it needed to feel like an embrace and an outcry at the same time. A stark warning and a shelter in one art installation.”
Woven Skin has travelled around the world as an organic art installation adapting to different surroundings and a variety of pressing issues. The nomadic pavilion has invited dialogue similar to the debates in historical arenas around questions such as: who calls whom to order, when will justice be done, who does and who does not do justice to humankind and the earth? Woven Skin does not pass judgement; it shows the harrowing pain. The exhibition locations for Woven Skin were carefully chosen on the basis of important legacy, possibilities for communal interaction, the quality of place and landscape, an opportunity for change, political or ecological meaning, giving an essential impulse to restoring bio-diversity or to other local issues after a natural disaster or problems of immigration and integration.
After its kickoff at Waste NO Waste Factory, as part of Leeuwarden-Friesland Cultural Capital 2018, in Groningen in May 2018, the next international venue was Manifesta 12, Palermo, Sicily in June 2018. Situated in the historic Chiesa Santa Maria dello Spasimo, and presented by Manifesta 12 in collaboration with Past Forward, Woven Skin was the backdrop for a series of workshops for local migrant communities focusing on ancient crafts of spinning and weaving.
Crossing the Atlantic Woven Skin was exhibited at UNGA Climate Summit / Climate Week in New York in September 2018 and formed the platform for a compelling dialogue on the climate crisis in relation to the built environment. At the end of the month Woven Skin travelled on to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, home to Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill Restaurant, where Woven Skin became part of the iconic farm tour and farm-to-table experience with a natural dye and hand-felting master class and lecture by Claudy Jongstra taking place amidst the installation.
Woven Skin then returned to the Netherlands and was beautifully placed in the ancient ‘Pit of Justice’ at ‘It Fryske Gea’ in Bakkeveen, the provincial association for nature protection in Friesland in June 2019. Surrounded by a flock of Drenths Heath Sheep Woven Skin was once more presented in collaboration with Waste NO Waste. Together, an education program was designed to involve the local community as well as students from the province of Drenthe and disabled youth from the province of Friesland. In its totality, this event served as a taste of the potential unleashed when production and consumption are reimagined to communal collaboration and the promotion of biodiversity.
In February 2020 Claudy Jongstra was invited to exhibit Woven Skin during the Agriculture Conference: Finding the Spirit in Agriculture, Annual International Conference of the Biodynamic Movement at the Goetheanum, Dornach in Switzerland. The conference explored how integrating spirituality into agriculture can be helpful in understanding our current global situation and in developing our practical approach to agriculture. In this setting, Woven Skin took the shape of a seed pod, creating a place of refuge and focus for gatherings during the conference, including an artist talk by Claudy Jongstra about her work in relation to the biodynamic agricultural movement.
Woven Skin’s travels were completed in Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden in The Netherlands in Claudy Jongstra’s solo exhibition ‘Nine’ opening in September 2020 that ran for a year till the end of August 2021. Within the context of the Lakenhal, and partnering with the Hortus Botanicus on a historical botany collection, Woven Skin culminated in the preservation of an international cultural legacy of woolen cloth and historical dye techniques. In the museum the installation Woven Skin formed the backdrop for three online panel discussions about the troubled relationship between humankind and nature, presented by Andrea van Pol. Watch again at lakenhal.nl/aandeduurzametafel or on the L@kenhal app.
WOVEN SKIN, 2018 consists of 60 wool felt artworks composed of Drenthe Heath and merino wool, mohair, silk, cotton and linen, naturally-dyed with organic pigments including madder, cochineal, logwood, St John’s wort and walnut. The panels are hung with oak bark tanned leather strips in steel frames.
Every time a Woven Skin panel is acquired for an art collection part of the revenues will be channeled back into the community by facilitating the development of a permanent spinning and weaving school/workshop connected to Studio Claudy Jongstra in Friesland. By investing in traditional weaving and spinning equipment and tools a strong connection will be safeguarded with the content of the Woven Skin project and a link established with the second part of the trilogy about ecology, colour and community. In this next leg of the narrative the emphasis is even more on the importance and value of handwork and the inter generational transfer of artisanal skills not only for the benefit of the art and craft itself but even more for the well-being of the artisan involved.
From The Craftsman by Richard Sennett: “Shop class might teach us not just how to make a better bookshelf, but how to build a better human being.”