Rebecca Sutherland: Fleet


Rebecca Sutherland, Wall Drawing (Round), 2021, ground dried petals. Photograph by Anahí Gonzalez.

Rebecca Sutherland

Artlab Gallery
Department of Visual Arts, Western University
MFA Thesis Exhibition
May 25 – June 11, 2021

What do we lose through our continuous pursuits of permanence?
What might we be missing along the way?

Fleet makes use of floral material deemed commercially undesirable in a poetic and inventive collaboration with the passage of time and the shifting qualities of lived and imagined spaces.

Cooperating with the exigencies of time, the works in the exhibition highlight ceaseless movements towards inevitable forms of decomposition, pointing to the inherent delicacy and fragility of the natural world, and invoking similarities with human experience.


Rebecca Sutherland, Drop, 2021, reclaimed flowers, thread, monofilament. Photograph by Anahí Gonzalez.

Here, reclaimed floral material is subjected to repetitive processes and forms of labour as a counterpoint to being left to naturally decay. These intentional processes transform the material at a stage prior to an expected moment of wilting and dissipation. Sometimes the petals are presented as themselves, mediated by repetition.

To engage with the impermanence of ephemeral materials is to allow the passage of time to play a significant role in the production of the work. The works in Fleet enact processes of decay and deterioration, engaging with natural systems as real, as opposed to illustrative. The cyclical nature the works manifest from the studio into the gallery: in some instances, a previous work’s dried petals are collected and manually ground into powder that is then repurposed within the installation.

Working with an ephemeral yet materially focused practice, the artist questions, “Why do we strive for permanence? Does this change how we interact with art? And how are we ever able to make peace with the fleeting nature of life?”
video documentation of the exhibition


Rebecca Sutherland, Drying, Dried, 2021, reclaimed flowers, nails. Photograph by Anahí Gonzalez.

Due to COVID-19 safety measures, the Artlab Gallery and Cohen Commons will be operating virtually. In-person visits are not permitted at this time. We will be posting exhibition documentation, videos, and virtual walk-throughs on the Artlab’s website.

Artlab Gallery:


Artlab Gallery
Department of Visual Arts
Western University
John Labatt Visual Arts Centre
London, ON, Canada
Twitter: @westernuVisArts
Instagram: @westernuVisArts