Noelle Hamlyn

Sweetness of the Work

March 7 - April 19, 2013

Sweetness of the Work is part of a collection exploring the introduction of crystalline forms into lacework. In this installation, Mississauga-based Hamlyn works with cotton thread crocheted to create a web-like structure, which is then exposed to a saline solution in order to encourage the formation of crystals. The evaporation rate, sun exposure, temperature, salt type and saturation of the solution were varied to create the resultant delicate lace forms. The process, as well as the nature of the resulting salt crystals on the lace's surface, create an apt metaphor for the accumulation of stitches, labour and hours invested in traditional women's handiwork. The artist, residing along the shores of fresh water Lake Ontario, allows us to rethink the power of the sea. Salt has influenced human existence throughout history. Its economic and military significance produced trading partnerships… or armed combat, in cultures ranging from the Sahara in West Africa to the Himalayan peaks of Nepal. In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi protested British rule with the Great Salt March – Gandhi’s choice of the salt tax as object of protest is deeply symbolic, since salt is used by nearly everyone in India, to replace the salt lost by sweating in the tropical climate. Salt is an agent of uniting and dividing people, preserving and processing as well as launching the imagination. Noelle Hamlyn investigates salt as a mercurial material process to transform the known or assumed form to a phantasmagorical experience of wonder and awe. Criticality is key. Sweetness of the Work is an homage to the sweat and tears of the seamstress, and a gentle meditation on the loss of traditional skills. It also speaks to the hierarchical structures that shape our perception of “women’s work,” exposing cloth and lacework as a medium of socio-political relevance. It is always a pleasure to work with an emerging artist who has strong vision. Hamlyn's energy and her storm of ideas command their own space! This is an artist who knows no bounds, and chooses to take the most challenging path in her work. Noelle is a true professional and leader. As always, my appreciation goes forward to the collaborative team at the Gallery, Gail Farndon, Jyoti Minhas, Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen and our talented docents and volunteers. A cordial thank you goes to Tina Chu, Engagement Officer, who provided exhibition workshops and events during this exhibition. A special note of appreciation goes to Mississauga Art Council and the Ontario Art Council for their support for this strong artist’s work at this early point in her career. As Hamlyn continues to surpass our expectations, we look forward to discovering what her determination and visionary ideas will show us next.


Stuart Keeler

Director | Curator

Banner image credit: Noelle Hamlyn, Tears (detail), salt, fibre