Noelle Hamlyn

January 15 – March 15, 2019

With a background in craft, textiles, fine art and costuming, Noelle Hamlyn is fascinated with materials and process – seeking a balance between conceptual ideas and technical execution. Based in Mississauga, her work has been shown nationally and internationally and is held in permanent collections such as of the Cambridge Art Gallery, the Japanese Paper Place, the City of Mississauga Culture Division, and the Cleveland University Hospitals.

She is CoArtistic Director of Frog and Hand – an interdisciplinary collective of performance and visual artists. Through Frog in Hand Noelle explores her love of costume, scenography, and multi-disciplinary artistic collaborations.

Residency Proposal

In 2014, I began experimenting with salt as an artistic and sculptural medium. Using fragile Japanese gampi tissue paper to wrap the ‘tools of the trade’ – sewing machines, scissors, buttons, irons, spools and bobbins of hand spun thread, thimbles, pins, needles and spinning wheels – evoked ghost-like echoes of hands that once used these ‘old fashioned’ tools. These tools were then exposed to various saline solutions and left to cool, forming salt crystals across the papered surfaces. Salt solutions and crystals are like the sweat labour and salt tears of the seamstress – a gentle meditation on the loss of traditional skills and labour practices.

Using this previous work as a starting point, I would like to continue to explore and consider the biological and social-political properties of salt-0.3 mg of salt in a teardrop; 500 mg/lb in human sweat and specific to the Salt Spring location – the 3.5 % salinity of seawater thought to have been essential to the evolution of human life. Historically, salt has been used as currency, a subject of fairy tales, and the cause of bitter wars. Used for thousands of years to preserve food, salt made it possible to transport food over large distances and through time; contributing both to development of civilizations and the destructive forces of colonialism. In many cultures, bread and salt is offered to visitors as a sign of hospitality and a way of preserving memories.

Crystalline salts are compound substances – ordered arrangements that form lattice patterns which are more stable when surrounded by similar arrangements….an interesting metaphor for community, relationships and for building sustainable social structures. While there are 118 known elements, there are millions of different compound substances. Table salt is a compound of Sodium and Chlorine – which behaves differently than its two ingredients. I wonder when we are together as a ‘whole’ if we behave differently than when we are alone?  I wonder about salt as a metaphor for assimilation when individual properties are lost as we assume new identities. I wonder how we come together influences how we are together? These are the rich metaphors I want to explore in conversations with the community.

Working with salt requires time, attention and a dedicated studio space. Salt as a medium does not share well with other art practices, however, I will investigate collaborative opportunities and seek technical input from local sculptors, ceramic, wood, and textile artists. A two-month residency will enable me to deepen my understanding of salt, experiment with salt types – including sea salt and collected sea water, and explore a variety of applications including salt staining, dyeing, and crystal formations. During this time, I would offer a dye or material exploration workshop and an informal sharing of my studio findings including an artist talk integrating my previous salted installation work. A Residency on Salt Spring Island seems an ideal way to work individually with salt as a medium, while experiencing the metaphor of community.


Updated upon Completion.

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