C'NT Programming

Patrick Traer - Lost SleepPatrick Traer
Lost Sleep

"One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea and live alone with one's words."

Virginia Woolf.


"I just assembled about half of the 50 embroidered mural panels on the basement floor and this work is not about stars or constellations as I had thought. It is about being under water. And after having read four Virginia Woolf novels this past summer, deep black water. Mapping perhaps the fizz and bubbling sweep of a last breath. The excessively fine taffeta threads waver unevenly along the edges of the stretchers and are pulled so very tightly at each staple point, the textile grid becomes skewed. The harder I pull to flatten the surface, the more irregular the tension and arrangement of threads. Even the most drum-tight surface picks up and drops reflected light, flaring forward and then dissolving to black with enough contrast to look rippled. Add to this the gently puckered interruptions of embroidery; matt thread pushed through and knotted in circular shapes ranging in size from tiny stipples to broad coins. I can live with their persistent, somewhat graceful imperfections. The matt black shapes sink more like stones, the taffeta shining around them, wet sand, softened and pulled silver smooth the way a receding wave would do."

Patrick Traer, January 2006

Patrick and I were both in Regina in January and I had the privilege of seeing his stunning new work in an exhibition at Neutral Ground. This work is an experiment with seductive materials and lighting and the installation created a dreamy, eroticized environment. While the embroidered silk murals are grand, breathtaking and incredibly sexy, I was drawn to the work lost sleep tucked away behind one of the murals. I asked Patrick to recreate this piece for the C'NT gallery.

lost sleep is a quiet and delicate sculpture. The work is low on the wall so you have to lean in like you do for a secret or a kiss. Scores of black velvet upholstery buttons are neatly clipped with wooden clothespegs and piled high. The precarious mound shifts under it's own weight and a slam of the door sends buttons tumbling down the sides. Gravity shapes the work like a geological cross-section or undulating landscape. Each button in the mountain sucks up light and counts off another sleepless night. Bleach, used for cleaning and disinfecting, stains the pretty face of the work with an after-the-fact, gestural drawing. The flowing gesture easily disguises Patrick's meticulous process and makes the illusion that much more magical.

Shelley Ouellet, May 2006

Patrick Traer | CV | Images