Meteobotany: Bettina Matzkuhn
Bettina Matzkuhn, Dimelaena Oreina, 2022, digital drawing print, hand embroidery in cotton, linen, silk.

Meteobotany: Bettina Matzkuhn

Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Vancouver, BC - Sep 21, 2023 - Jan 28, 2024

by Michael Turner

Based in Vancouver, Bettina Matzkuhn works in a range of media, including embroidery, paint and film. At the heart of her practice is an appreciation for what she describes on her website as “the familiar and versatile language of textiles.” It is through this language that she has discovered aesthetic passageways, moving from collage to narrative, a journey that has allowed her to “create stories about ecology, weather and geography in her textile work.”

Matzkhun’s current exhibition, at Vancouver’s leading natural history museum on the University of British Columbia campus (located on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people), pairs drawings of cloud formations with embroideries of plant life, lichens in particular. The journey in this instance is a formal one, with Matzkuhn working “from digital satellite images, to drawing done by hand on a digital surface, then commercially printed onto fabric, and finally embroidered by hand.” A further pairing is registered less in what is seen than in how it is seen: “Satellites give a ‘god’s eye’ view, while Matzkuhn has been drawing lichen specimens through a microscope.”

Though Matzkuhn provides numerous pairings in Meteobotany, she is not content to present viewers with inert juxtapositions, contrasts and binaries. “Through combining macro and micro viewpoints, the artist hopes to convey the sense of the northwest coast as an intricate and intertwined life form – a living, dynamic presence. Lichens represent a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae (and more organisms, as research is finding). By pairing imagery of lichens with grand weather systems, Matzkuhn hopes to show a greater symbiosis.”

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