Artist James Kirkpatrick creates stunning collages from old sail material.
Ontario-based artist James Kirkpatrick (AKA musician Thesis Sahib) first started working with sails—in addition to his other graffiti-informed paintings—in Halifax, six years ago. A fan of using found material, he repurposed some sails from the shipyard into a piece that Dave Hayden, co-director of the former <<parentheses>> Gallery, later bought. Hayden has curated Kirkpatrick’s latest exhibition—100% real humdinger—at Studio 21, featuring Kirkpatrick’s newest pieces, including this large collage, “main-sail.”
“My parents are from Glasgow, and my dad was in the merchant navy. When they came to Canada my dad started racing boats on a crew and ended up being able to get an old boat of his own—kind of falling apart but he was always repairing it,” says Kirkpatrick. “About four years ago my dad passed away. The boat was almost unfixable so when he died we gave it away to a charity and we were left with the sails. I really wanted to do something with them. So I sewed them up and collaged them together, I used almost all of the pieces. People have been donating sails, too. The new series I’ve made for this show is a mix of my dad’s sails combined with others. I surf in the Great Lakes in the same place my dad used to sail and I meet other older people who end up giving me sails.”
1 I’ve always looked at the sails when we’d be out using the boat—I always wanted to chop ’em up, I thought, ‘These look like paintings, they look like abstracts.’ The numbers would flip around and I’d see the reflections from the other side, I always wanted to work on them.
2 I estimated that I used elements from about five sails—I cut them up as I go, some stuff makes it and some things don’t.
3 The B is for Bayfield, Ontario, the marina, that’s where my dad had a boat, that’s also where we put my dad’s ashes. And there’s also a great break for surfing, you can jump off a pier into the surf.
4 It’s definitely intentional to create figurative parts in these big collages. I try not to alter it too much, I don’t mind cutting a letter out of the sail but I try not to alter it too much. The sewing is like the glue.
5 You see it’s like two eyes and a mouth? The centre of the eye area required all these awards banners you get when you win a boat race, they’re printed onto different canvas materials with the sailboat names, someone gave me a bunch that were from his grandpa.