'Beyond the Horizon', 25 Sept - 25 Nov 2014
This autumn travellers passing through London Luton Airport will have the opportunity to view Jo Atherton’s unique flotsam tapestries. ‘Beyond the Horizon’, is the latest exhibition in the Airport’s Gateway Gallery, showcasing a striking collection of weaving created with material found on beaches around the world.
Balloons from France, Italian plastic shipping tags, fishing gear from The Netherlands, toys from the USA and even lobster trap tags from Canada have all found their way into Jo’s intricate tapestries.
Discussing her work, Jo explains: ‘Passengers from a variety of countries, cultures and backgrounds converge in the airport, their lives woven together for a brief moment in time. And much like an airport, journeys also begin and end on the beach. With every tide delivering extraordinary objects from beyond the horizon, I delight in weaving these items together and celebrating their untold stories, much like the tales of an anonymous traveller.’
Jo is repeatedly drawn to the Cornish coast which juts out into the North Atlantic Current, a tributary of the Gulf Stream. This coastline serves as a unique collection point for material from all over the planet and never fails to provide a thought-provoking artefact. In weaving these items together, lost objects are given a second chance to be pondered and read anew.
Jo’s enthusiasm for beachcombing is infectious: ‘Every object washed up on the beach has a story – Where did it come from? How did it end up in the sea? For the most part we will never know, but that can’t stop us from wondering…’
Much like the stone tools, pottery and metals that archaeologists use to define human cultures of the past, a layer of plastic will one day signify our own throwaway society. We leave a trail of plastic in our wake, but what do these discarded fragments say about us?
Having recently exhibited at Space2 Gallery at Watford Museum, Hertfordshire this spring, and Bromham Mill, Bedfordshire in August, ‘Beyond the Horizon’ will be Jo’s third exhibition of 2014. Following this, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall has invited Joanna to produce a solo exhibition in their Quarterdeck Gallery from February to July 2015.
A former Fellow of Digswell Arts Trust, Joanna was recently invited to return as a Trustee. She is Artist in Residence at St Francis’ College in Letchworth, and writes a monthly column for the Hertfordshire Visual Arts newsletter. She has an MA in Cultural & Critical Studies from Birkbeck College,University of London and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from King Alfred’s College, University of Winchester. She lives in the village of Harrold, north Bedfordshire, despite its distance from the coast!