Red Coral Branch, 2010, embroidery thread on paper, box framed, shadow mounted, 96cm x 111cm (SOLD)
Coral is among the most ancient gem materials used for adornment, evidence of its use dates back to prehistoric times. Red coral (or corallium) has been harvested, mostly in the Mediterranean seas, for use in high-end artwork and jewellery for the last 800 years. Recently the sustainability of red coral harvesting has been questioned as the accessibility of new coral is declining as underwater supplies are exhausted. Coral reefs are one of the most endangered ecosystems worldwide. Bacteria, pollution, net fishing and the increasing temperature of the oceans are causing growing concern for the reefs.
The red coral series consists of a range of coral forms, created using a delicate freeform embroidery technique. The conscious use of the colour red reflects upon the practice of harvesting the coveted red coral and also borrows from the many psychological associations with the colour - danger, passion and blood. The pieces are presented like delicate organic specimens, carefully pinned to the wall, available for close inspection and study.
The red coral series explores the beauty and fragility of coral reef systems. The work reflects upon the use of coral as an adornment for our homes or ourselves. The decorative pieces we treasure as a keepsake of a holiday or a beautiful specimen on the wall is in reality a lifeless skeleton of a once thriving organism. The tradition of collecting fragments of the natural world for display in our homes is common but we rarely stop to reflect on the ethics of the practice.