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find: Visual Arts Canada

Anisa Skuce  

paper-crafted, installations, Canada.

Anisa Skuce, born 1968 Ottawa, Canada, graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1992 at NovaScotia College of Art and Design, and then a Masters at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1999. She coordinates the Arts Department at Maxwell International Bahá´í School (, teaching there since 2000 as well as the arts residency they offer to artists from all disciplines. You can contact her:

Tahirih, 1996, 19 by 9 foot, cast cotton rag relief by Anisa Skuce.

Tahirih, completed in 1996, is a 19 foot by 9 foot arrangement of cast cotton rag along a wall. The pattern is Queen Anne's Lace, a weed like flower that made its way to Canada migrating from the Middle East, to Europe/Britain and then over to the so called "New World".

The process of creating moulds, preparing the pulp andcasting was lengthy and intense. With this piece I continued to investigate the qualities of the veil to both reveal and conceal.

Conceptually it was my first conscious investigation into a desire to locate myself. Born in Canada of Irish and Persian heritage, I have spent my whole life in motion from the centre of Canada to its North and South to Central America, SE Asia, Europe and back to Canada. This kind of motion is not unique or unusual and the increasing migration of peoples and the concomitant growth of diaspora around the world.

Detail of Tahirih

The emergence of the phenomena of diaspora as a new global culture/social entity has contributed to the creation of new spaces not homogenous in culture or bound by place. This refolding of the fabric of societies exposes new panoramas and when mingled with a growing understanding of our relationship to the metaphysical dimensions of existance provide for a sense of place within a kind of Placelessness. I see a reflection of these spaces in the fabric of the lace and the pattern and histrory of the flower.

After completion of the piece and high above the clouds on a flight to Costa Rica I was reading "Tahirih" by Martha Root and it occured to me that there was a play on words between what I was reading and the process I had just completed: we were both "casting the veil" and so in relation to the process I named it "Tahirih". The material is deceptively delicate in its appearence. It is in fact very strong. It is ultimately meant to be suspended as a space divider where the viewer can look through the negative spaces defining what they see by the edges and borders of the spaces created by the piece.

Memory, 1999, cast graphite by Anisa Skuce.

"Memories" are a collection of cast graphite rose petals which were part of a solo exhibition entitled "Dulcitudo" in Edinburgh, U.K., 1999. The show revolved around the idea of sacrifice and transformation.

imageimageThe petals, resting on heavy rag paper on window sills, have the potential to disappear by being drawn into a new form.

They are made of graphite a common drawing medium as well as a priamry element. They are quite fragile at the edges though once fired are in fact fairly durable. In the photo, it looks like rag paper because there is some fibre in it which will burn out during the firing process and the photos was taken before they were fired. I think of these as an event captured within memory.

Above and Right: The container for the Path of Ever Nearing, 1999 by Anisa Skuce.


"Path of Ever Nearing" 1999 is a 74 inch long bridge or path of white hand woven silk suspended by warp strands which extend up to 30 feet from sides of the cloth, depending on the size of the exhibition space. The ends are attatched to two wooden turned bobbins and these rest on silver hooks attached to the wall. When the bridge is not suspended it lies dormant in a silver box hand made for it. The lid is engraved with the words: "Longing is the Compass of Orientation". The title, "Path of Ever Nearing" relates to the 'Sirat' mentioned in Bahaś'llah's Seven Valleys. It is a commitment to traversing the "infra-mince'(Duchamp). Those crossings in life which appear as fine 'as a razor's edge' and as wide as the sea.

Path of Ever Nearing, 1999 by Anisa Skuce.

Detail of one end.


Spirited, 1999, from the Rosarium project.

"Spirited" 1999/2000 is from my project called Rosarium, which was related to the botanical process of preserving delicate flowers for formal study.I was interested in the transformation effected by this process. The process involves submerging the flower in an alcohol solution and was developed at the London Kew Gardens herbarium. As the rose enters the solution it begins to die, colour bleeds out and the petals begin to molt. Over the period of approximately 7 days the flower undergoes a trasformation which renders it translucent. It was a wonder to watch and I am currently working on a time lapse video of the process. The aspect at the time which I found most facinating was that the scientist was interested in the study of the form and I was interested in the disappearence of its colour -the unique aspect or 'soul' of the flower.

My work of the past few years is becoming much smaller and somewhat more ephemeral as I move towards working in video, moving image and sound. My most recent work was a collabortive work with Laura Lee(choreographer) and Anna Hostman(composer) with contributions by HeroVey and Faramarz Rohani. It is a devotional multi-media piece done to commemorate Baha'u'llah's time in the Siyyah Chal. I am interested in the potential of collaboration and strongly believe it will be a method of working for artists which will produce works that will reflect the growing characteristics and spirit of a new age.

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