Working on the same project for nine years must take a great deal of patience, but Sandra Sawatzky is showing no sign of fatigue. She is the artist behind the incredible Black Gold Tapestry; a sixty-seven-metre-long tapestry that tells the story of oil. Starting with the dinosaurs, the cloth spins an epic tale of prehistoric catastrophes, human settlers, battles and changing technologies - all in stitch. All in all: 220 million years of life.
Sawatzky has described the process of creating the Black Gold Tapestry as a "solo adventure" that has tested her skills as a storyteller, artist, designer, illustrator, maker and filmmaker. As one can imagine, the nine-year journey towards completing the tapestry was not always easy; the local shop running out of the exact fabric type was always a worry and, as Sawatzky has put it, working on the tapestry has taken a sixth of her life.
While Sawatzky did not necessarily have the whole process mapped out from the beginning, the sheer enormity of the task required a year of research before she'd even begun stitching. Not only has the artist stitched for sixty-seven metres; before that, she had to draw the whole thing out. Somewhere out there, there exists a drawing that stretches for two whole city blocks.
Once finished, the Black Gold Tapestry was put on display in the Glenbow Museum, Calgary. Sadly, the exhibition has now closed but there will be another opportunity to see part of the epic tapestry in the flesh this autumn for those in the UK. Panel 5 of the Black Gold Tapestry will be on display at the Canadian High Commission, Canada House in London from 6 - 8pm, 1 October 2018.
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Blog post by Jessica Edney