Sandra Sawatzky: The Age of Uncertainty
Originally exhibited at the University of Calgary’s prestigious Nickle Galleries in early 2022, The Age of Uncertainty is an extraordinary series of panels embroidered by Calgary-based artist Sandra Sawatzky. Sawatzky spent 20 years in the film industry as a writer, producer and director of six films before a fateful trip in 2007 to the Glenbow Museum, to see an exhibition of pioneer embroidery, inspired her to pick up a needle and thread.
She was awarded the 2022 Doug and Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award in recognition of her first, epic embroidery piece, The Black Gold Tapestry, which took nine years to complete. Inspired by the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry, Sawatzky’s piece is a 67-metre-long embroidered history, beginning with the age of dinosaurs, of humans’ discovery of, development of, and ultimately utter dependence on fossil fuels.
Sawatzky says that The Black Gold Tapestry “was embraced by people across what we normally think of as the great divide. Environmentalists and the energy world. What I tried to do is fairly answer questions on how we got where we are today, and somehow that combined with the embroidery made it possible to open up discussion. With the current project, The Age of Uncertainty picks up the thread and considers the many unforeseen repercussions of a world changed by oil, gas and coal.” In 12 hand-embroidered linen panels, which took four years to complete, The Age of Uncertainty, influenced by medieval prayer books, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel and William Hogarth, explores artificial intelligence, climate change, debt, wealth inequality, science & technology, overpopulation, resource scarcity, surveillance, nuclear threat, war, work and corruption.