Nature of Time - Hannah Streefkerk

Nature has a certain rhythm, whether it is changing with the seasons or in the course of a single day. This rhythm is visible; seasonal changes can be seen from week to week, if only we stop to pay attention. Hannah Streefkerk's latest work relates to the passing of time in nature and to the cyclical nature of time.

With work titles such as To remember, To conserve, Regeneration and A time for, it becomes clear that time and the effect that time has on life and the world around us, play a central role in her recent art practice. She uses the traditional crafts of crocheting and embroidery as methods of exploring the fragility of nature, and as a loving caretaker of Nature she stitches together the torn bark of trees, repairs holes in leaves and crochets protective jackets for stones, all of these subject to time's erosion and natural processes. While Streefkerk in her artworks with humour and heart strives to protect, restore and conserve nature, she also embraces and celebrates these processes through her installations. A fondness of autumn and the theme of transformation can be seen; the renewal of nature through the destructive forces of winter, the leaves falling and making their new home on the forest floor.

The installation A time for (2014) consists of a series of large leaves floating in the air as if they were swept off a branch by a gust of wind. Each leaf is made from small pieces of birch bark meticulously stitched together, and the material's intricately crafted structure is somehow juxtaposed with the weightless presence of time in the frozen moment just before the leaves come to rest on the ground. Time plays a role in the narrative and the composition of the work as well as in the time-consuming and painstaking manual work that very visibly lies behind. The title is derived from a chapter in the bible's Book of Ecclesiastes which begins with the sentence "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens". Without being a religious work, it emphasises that everything will be beautiful in its own natural time.

The beauty in nature's decay is also captured in the installation To remember (2013), where myriads of small brown paper leaves with sewed veins and edges brings autumn into the exhibition space. In the hands of Hannah Streefkerk, a modest thing like a withered leaf becomes a study in meticulousness, generosity and exquisite sensibility, something that characterises her entire body of work. For the exhibition 'Bewegter Wind' in Kassel (2014), the leaves were spread out under a tree in the forest where they blended with nature's own elements in a subtle and poetic way, asking viewers to take time to still themselves and appreciate what happens naturally around them.

Through her works, Streefkerk observes phenomenons in nature and with a playful twist she translates them into her own unmistakable artistic language. She finds inspiration in the way moss and lichen form on bark and rocks, and how fungi cause abnormal growths on trees such as conspicuous galls and brushlike clusters. In Deformed and Regeneration (2015) she presents her interpretations of nature's strange growths, turning something overlooked or even unsightly into something fascinating and beautiful. The tactility of the woven rattan spheres evokes a commanding curiosity in the viewer and a desire to question their structure and run a finger along their tangled surfaces.

Streefkerk seems to say that nature in all its facets never ceases to amaze, surprise and fill her mind with wonder, and she invites her viewers to join her in her exploration of it. Her works can be seen as visual metaphors for our shared responsibility of protecting nature and lessening our impact on the environment. At the same time they prompt us to contemplate our natural surroundings. To notice things, to stop once in awhile. Time and the fact that everything is temporary are aspects of life that the environment and every human have in common. The lush green foliage of summer turns into falling autumn leaves which in turn become a source of nutrients for next spring's growing season. Through her interventions in nature itself, in forests, on fields and riverbanks, and her sculptural works inspired by natural elements, Hannah Streefkerk delicately illustrates this passing of time, growth and decay and the continuum of life.