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Pam McKinlay

Pam brings a wide variety of interests into her art practice. Here is her short bio in her own words:

I am a weaver and textile artist with a background in applied science and history of art. The works I create are made predominantly in Art-Science projects. Wearing textiles with an embodied story is an ideal way to communicate climate imperatives in digestible chunks. The scarves and shawls I create often have intricate surface detail that invite queries as to how they were made and why. 

I work part-time for the Dunedin School of Art and Research Office at Otago Polytechnic, in media, publications and special projects. I have been a longtime participant in the Art and Science series and have been the co-cordinator for the last three projects.  

For the Dreaming of the Future Exhibition Pam has combined some elements of her ongoing and longterm project “Ice is Cool”.

Pam describes the project as follows:

The scarves and shawls I create are one-off pieces each with a woven story about Earth processes and climate change. What we do in our day to day lives affects the atmosphere and cryosphere. For every 1kg of carbon emissions at the tail pipe we cause 15kg of glacial ice to melt somewhere in the world.

The “Ice is Cool” series of 2019, focused on the cryosphere, the source of much of the worlds fresh water. The scarves are created in homage to khata – white silk scarves traditionally associated with the Himalayan region. The woven symbols incorporated across the series of scarf designs were based on repetition of an ice crystal motif in the cubic form to remind us that every glacier begins with a fragile snowflake. They were woven white on white using fine wool/silk and highly reflective fine rayon. The resulting fabrics are light in weight, have great feel next to the skin and have beautiful drape. Variations in the scarf designs picked up other themes of surface meltwater on glaciers with rapid disintegration at the glacial face. This was reflected in the fabrics with increasing modification of the underlying pattern structures in the weaving lift plans, resulting in the eventual destruction of the ice-crystal motif and the weaving becoming more “watery”.

The series concluded with a glacier declared extinct in 2014. This scarf reflected the long trek up the rocky remains of Okjokull. Okjokull has become an international symbol of “once was glacier”. Shrinking glaciers reveal the current impacts of global warming amidst a sea of hard to grasp climate change projections of effects yet to materialise. Here we see change is rapid if you are a glacier, even though they are slow if you live in the human lane. Another reminder that ice is only ever cool. Glaciers are our canary in the coal-mine. Listen to the birds.

Ice at the Margins I

The “Ice is Cool” series focused on the cryosphere, source of much of the world’s fresh water. The fine wool/silk and rayon scarves were created in homage to khata – traditionally associated with the Himalayas – and were based on repetition of an ice crystal motif in the cubic form to remind us that every glacier begins with a snowflake, made more fragile by global warming. “Ice at the Margins”, was a response to site visits at NZ’s receding glaciers. Shrinking glaciers are the canaries in the mine, a tangible and visible effect amidst hard to grasp climate change projections.

Ice at the Margins I

Ice at the Margins II

The scarves and shawls are one-off pieces created with a woven story about Earth processes and climate change. Variations in the weave depict surface meltwater on glaciers with rapid disintegration at the glacial face. Increasing modification of the pattern structures in the weaving result in the eventual destruction of the ice-crystal motif and the weaving becoming more “watery”. What we do in our day to day lives affects the atmosphere and cryosphere. For every 1kg of carbon emissions at the tail pipe we cause 15kg of glacial ice to melt somewhere in the world.

Farewell Tasman Glacier

Shrinking glaciers reveal the current impacts of global warming amidst a sea of hard to grasp climate change projections of effects yet to materialise. Here we see change is rapid if you are a glacier, even though they are slow if you live in the human lane. Another reminder that ice is only ever cool. Glaciers are our canary in the proverbial coal-mine.

These works hold a very powerful presence in the gallery. The photographic print of the Tasman Glacier is a size that allows the viewer to feel up close and personal and the translation of the complexity of the glacier’s elements into the complexity of the woven panels leads the viewer to inspect closely. There is a very subtle powerful tension between the brittleness of glacial ice and the softness of the khata works. This also establishes the global reach of the discussion – the one-ness of our planet. Unfortunately it is very hard to do this installation proper justice with a photograph.

The photographic print Farewell to Tasman Glacier is available as a limited edition print run. It can be found with more information on the gallery web shop. Check it out. If you want any more information please contact the gallery.