Last week, I made a studio visit to see local artist J.J. L’Heureux, to catch up and see her recent works on our paper. She has recently been working on our KM-04 Surface Gampi Natural to recreate “paper bags” that she saw in Antarctica, a location that greatly inspires most of her beautiful work.
This series called “Bags of Bones” was inspired by actual paper bags that the artist saw in a whaling station in the Southern Ocean.
After recreating the actual “Bone Meal” bag, she made several of her own design of bags, all of which relates to animal cruelty or environmental damages. The red lining on the bottom represents blood, as J.J. states, and she sewed the bottoms one by one herself, making them look like actual paper bags.
The “Bags of Bones” in this series, except for one, are of my imagination. The original BONE MEAL bag was something I saw at an abandoned whaling station in the Southern Ocean.
Two hundred years ago and continuing for another 100 years into the twentieth century, whales and other ocean life provided the energy oils Western culture needed to light its lamps, lubricate its machinery and make stylish clothing. Those who directly exploited the ocean’s wild life found uses for skins, baleen, bones and ivory that were the animals they killed by the uncounted thousands. There are many places around the world where none of these animals are found one hundred years later.
The “BONE MEAL” bag was the final resting place for the last parts of whales after the principle bulk was rendered into oil that was shipped off in barrels to the cities of the world. Bone meal removed the final evidence of the enormous quantity of mammals and birds harvested in the Southern Ocean.
Petroleum is the contemporary replacement for animal oil in the past 100 years. Our culture manufactures from oil the bones (plastics), fertilizers and “furs” (clothing) that we build, feed and clothe contemporary culture with. I cannot project the future deserts devoid of life like I have seen in Southern Ocean whale-birthing bays and other locations of slaughter and rendering, on this oil taking. I feel a deep warning that we may be creating a “dead world” if we do not make concessions to the consequences of what we are doing. The “Bags of Bones” becomes a symbolic casket of our culture if we do not find ways to moderate our stripping of the earth indiscriminately.
J. J. L’Heureux
The view of her beautiful studio from above:
J.J. also has a talk coming up at Aquarium of the Pacific, on March 20th! In her lecture she will share her photographs and stories of her Antarctic adventures. For further information, click here.