Litter is considered an unnatural spoiler of picturesque vistas, something that should be cropped out of frame in order to depict the “ideal” landscape. My work contends that trash is an inescapable component of the landscape and a sustainable creative material. I skirt around the edges of the romantic, pastoral landscape, jabbing my dirty fingers into something a little bleaker, something smelling of roadkill – but just as beautiful. In favour of using artist materials mined at great environmental cost thousands of miles from where I live, and by people I will never meet, I endeavour to entrench myself in the creative possibilities of my immediate surroundings. I approach art-making as another layer of the creation and decay that is already happening all around me – a stitch made through cloth is entwined with a leaf becoming mud on the forest floor, and with the blue powder left behind by a plastic fork. These found objects made by humans and non-humans come together as quilts, garments and embroideries, the fragility of fabric and its ties to the wear and tear of everyday life reiterating the ways that creation and decay fold over each other in an infinite tangle.
Reilly Knowles is a Southern Ontario-based interdisciplinary artist and recent graduate of Western University’s Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts program, with a Specialisation in Studio Arts. Knowles has been exhibiting since 2015, showing in such venues as Artlab Gallery (London, ON), Good Sport (London, ON), and Holcim Gallery (Milton, ON). He is a recipient of the Tony and Betsy Little Gold Medal in Visual Arts, the Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild Memorial Prize, and the Forest City Gallery Exhibition Award.