Ruth Wickremesooriya is an emerging multidisciplinary artist, creating conceptual pieces and bespoke woven cloth exploring themes of brokenness, hope and transformation. Her artistic practice is a tactile meditation on the paradoxical coexisting experience of beauty and pain, often felt most keenly in our darkest moments. She is committed to practising the discipline of hope.
Her work stands in gentle resistance to throwaway culture, fast fashion and dismissive attitudes to things considered ‘broken’. On many occasions, Ruth herself has felt broken throughout her unfinished journey with depression and anxiety; her response is to create slow, handwoven pieces in spite of her present weaknesses and limitations. She draws inspiration from broken objects, global cultures of care and repair, and the resilient patterns of regeneration embedded into the natural world.
For most of human history, textiles have been treasured possessions, passed down from generation to generation as objects of great financial and familial worth – a practice that has transcended all political and historical boundaries. Today, textiles are still our quiet companions for all aspects of life, and yet they are disdained by society as ‘waste’ when no longer deemed useful or fashionable, piling up in landfills while the plants, land, people and ancient techniques employed to create them suffer gross injustice and decline. Ruth is fascinated by the emotive nature of cloth that can connect tactility, memory, sentiment, aesthetics and storytelling into a single object. Our emotions as human beings are far more influential than many of us realise, and by engaging our emotions in more fullness there is potential to penetrate to the source of many personal and collective issues. In reclaiming materials considered ‘waste’, Ruth seeks to restore the rightful respect and value these textiles deserve.
Raised in England, Ruth earned her BFA in Woven Textile Design from Loughborough University, UK. She has collaborated with Upper Canada Weaving to produce handcrafted cloth for the Ontario Fibreshed (ongoing) and the Peggy Sue Collection at Toronto Fashion Week (2017). She has exhibited for Selvedge Magazine, London (2015) and is the winner of the prestigious international design competition; the ABURY Design Experience (2017). She is a bursary recipient from the Worshipful Company of Weavers (2014) and the Toronto Guild of Spinners and Weavers (2019).
Ruth can now be found with her loom in Tkaronto (Toronto), Canada, just south of Gete-Onigaming, an ancient trade and portage trail connecting the Don and Humber rivers (Davenport Road). As a recent settler she acknowledges with increasing understanding the privilege it is to live on this land, and the devastating burdens of abuse that indigenous peoples have suffered in the formation, development and present governance of Canada as a nation. She is committed to growing her practice in a way that honours this history and looks toward a future that is hopeful and equitable for all who call Tkaronto home.