In a series of hooked rugs called “Newfoundland on Warhol”, cultural symbols of Newfoundland & Labrador are seen through the lens of pop art icon, Andy Warhol. Some of Warhol’s best known works including the Campbell’s Soup Can and his portraits of famous celebrities are re-imagined as though Warhol had been a Newfoundlander, and the island his breeding ground for artistic inspiration.
What might the Campbell’s Soup Can have been had Warhol grown up a Newfoundlander? What island celebrities would he have deemed worthy of a Polaroid and subsequent painting? Would a banana have been his choice to grace the cover of the Velvet Underground album?
Consumerism and celebrity were common themes in Warhol’s work and they are equally present in “Newfoundland on Warhol.” In this series the iconic Campbell’s Soup can becomes the Purity Salt Fish can hooked in multiple colour combinations. Along the vein of the Campbell’s soup can, Newfoundlanders’ tinned milk of choice, Carnation Evaporated Milk, also makes an appearance. The three-dimensional Brillo box becomes a hooked rug version of the Purity Hard Bread bag, also in 3D.
Warhol’s later work titled Fish gets an upgrade to the mighty cod hooked in multiple colour combinations. At first glance, Warhol’s fish paintings aren’t an obvious fit into either theme of celebrity or consumerism, but when the fish morphs into a Newfoundland cod, suddenly both themes come into play. The Newfoundland cod fish is the undeniable king of the fish world in Newfoundland and Labrador, and having been the backbone of the province’s economy, it represents consumerism in spades.
As for celebrities, no Newfoundlander or Labradorian earns that title quite like Joey Smallwood. Just as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and countless others were given the Warhol treatment, so too is Joey Smallwood in this series.
And the bright yellow banana album cover? The banana takes a turn as a whimsical humpback whale in the midst of a deep dive.
Warhol’s use of repetition is mimicked in this hooked rug series with multiple colour combinations of the same subject. One area where this series diverges significantly from Warhol’s work is the hands-on approach of traditional rug hooking. Contrary to Warhol’s predilection for machine replication, the craft of rug hooking requires the constant touch of human hands, loop after loop after loop.