In the 1630’s the Dutch were consumed by a tulip mania that saw a single tulip bulb inflated to be worth as much as a good house in Rotterdam or Amsterdam. As with all artificially inflated markets it collapsed and is documented as the first market crash. Collapse is an antique fainting couch, upholstered in rich red paisley brocade that and has twenty bronze tulips growing out of it, all bent over as they might be in a garden after a heavy rain. This piece began with the idea of tulip mania and its collapse, but speaks to environmental collapse, Freud and psychoanalysis, Victorian notions of women’s hysteria and even post coital collapse.
The tulip embroideries each have a pair of tulips dancing or courting on a paisley background. They are anthropomorphized into figures as the inclusion of bulbs and roots implies mobility and the proximity of the two tulips in each piece speaks to notions of romantic love. Tulips (and the paisley pattern) originated in Persia, over the centuries humans have been able to take the bulbs from their original habitat and grow them in gardens across the world as they are easily propagated and adaptable. Their habitat has become the garden, a constructed natural environment.
Collapse, 2009. 74 x 66 x 194 cm, antique fainting couch, bronze, fabric
Photos: Morrow Scot-Brown; Pierre LeBlanc, courtesy Grenfell Campus Gallery; Kelowna Art Gallery; Manif'D'Art/8.