thousands of seashells make up the delicate textural sculptures of rowan mersh
 

thousands of seashells make up the delicate textural sculptures of rowan mersh

at london’s gallery FUMI, rowan mersh presents his material explorations manifested as sculptural, wall-mounted assemblages. the artist’s textile investigations bridge the realms of art, design, and fashion, using hard construction to achieve a soft aesthetic. while each work is expansive in scale, a closer inspection reveals a high degree of intricate refinement, expressing the thousands of meticulously hand-rendered individual parts. the labor-intensive process involves the use of responsibly-sourced materials, including windowpane oyster shell discs, dentalium shells, and turritella seashells.

rowan mersh shell
‘asabikeshiinh’ (dreamcatcher), sliced turritella shells, fluorocarbon
all images courtesy of gallery FUMI

 

 

a reflection on the native american dreamcatcher, rowan mersh’s latest free hanging installation entitled ‘asabikeshiinh’ is created from the cross-sections of nearly five thousand turritella seashells. presented at gallery FUMI, the cone shaped shells are first sliced, ground, shaped and polished by hand to reveal their lace-like central cavities. the shells are then bound together with fluorocarbon, as each shell informes the shape, size, and position of the next. the sculpture evolves much like a web is spun, grown from central point, spiraling outwards to the sculpture’s boundaries.

rowan mersh shell
‘asabikeshiinh’ (dreamcatcher), sliced turritella shells, fluorocarbon

 

 

the term asabikeshiinh originates from the native american ojibwe word for ‘spider’. the origins of the dreamcatcher are widely believed to have derived from an ancient legend within ojibwe culture; elders speak of the spider woman, known as asibikaashi whom watched over the children of the land. as the ojibwe nation spread to all corners of north america it became difficult for asibikaashi to reach all of the children. so, asibikaashi directed mothers and grandmothers to weave magical webs for the people from various sacred natural materials. the dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and allow only good thoughts to enter their mind.

rowan mersh shell
‘asabikeshiinh’ (dreamcatcher), sliced turritella shells, fluorocarbon

rowan mersh shell
‘echinothrix imaginem sui,’ tiger sea urchin spines, 2017

rowan mersh shell
‘echinothrix imaginem sui,’ tiger sea urchin spines, 2017

rowan mersh shell
‘placuna pro dilectione mia II,’ windowpane oyster shells, 2018

rowan mersh shell
‘placuna pro dilectione mia II,’ windowpane oyster shells, 2018

rowan mersh shell
‘placuna pro dilectione mia II,’ windowpane oyster shells, 2018

  • Living in the ocean, I can tell you that these sea shells wash up on our shores by the millions every day. Empty shells are discarded by the sea creatures when they outgrow them, or they are eaten by other sea creatures or sea birds. It’s very sweet not to want any creature harmed in order to have it’s shell, but 9 times out of 10, the shells are unoccupied already.:) All life is PRECIOUS!:):)

    Tracy Pate
  • We have to stop plundering our oceans. No, just no. No matter how beautiful the work is, I can’t see the justification.

    Michelle Petrie
  • Can’t help feeling a remose for the for the former occupants of the shells.

    A Brocklehurst

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