Wednesday, October 16, 2019

SDA Conference

I spent the summer at the Contextural Residency at AU-Arts in between various trips.  I was using the wonderful facilities to do some dyeing and silk screening, trying to find my way forward with a new body of work.  Sometimes I find a new piece comes together so easily and others are like birthing a baby and take a considerable amount of time coming together.  This body of work seems to be the latter.  So I am taking my time and "filling the well".

My trip recently to St Louis, Missouri was all about filling the well.  I attended the Surface Design Association's Conference "Beyond the Surface" in conjunction with Innovations in Textile.  There was a list of 38 exhibitions to take in, which was totally overwhelming.  As well as the textile exhibitions of course, St. Louis boasts  numerous museums and galleries.  Then there is the city itself, full of lovely old buildings and great restaurants' ranging from very expensive to an inexpensive steak place where you shouted your order to the guys behind the counter.  It was where I had my first taste of sweet potato pie.  The lady behind the counter was so incredulous that I had never had it, that she kept coming by our table to check out if I liked it or not.  She seemed very please when she saw that I had polished off the lot!

I was lucky to be spending time with 5 members of Articulation, so there was always someone to go visit galleries with.  The first place I went to was the St.Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. I have never seen the work of Andy Goldsworthy, so was very pleased to see his Stone Sea located outside the Art Museum.  I also saw a lot of contemporary work and particularly liked the work of Anselm Keifer

It was boiling hot, but we walked to the Kemper Art Museum next, where there was an exhibition by Ai WeiWei.  Wow, that made a huge impression on me.  One gallery was for his work on refugees both artwork and videos, which just blew me away; so powerful.  The piece below is made completely of lego.

This is a small part of a frieze named Odyssey depicting both current refugees as well as historical refugees with visual elements from ancient Greek and Egyptian art, and Japanese wood block prints.  All emphasizing the universal nature of migration.

This was a pillar made of vases, again depicting forced migration.

The next day we went to the Contemporary Art Museum and right next door was the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. I found the Pullizer the more interesting of the two with this piece, Joe by Richard Serra outside.  I had seen a lot of his other massive pieces at the Guggenheum in Bilbao.

I also really enjoyed the work of Susan Philipsz whose work is based on sound. We sat with this view, listening to Elizabethan ballads, while in the next room she has made sound with her fingers around the rim of glasses filled with water - each individual sound on individual LPs

SDA of course had a wonderful exhibition of extremely high quality work, definitely something to aspire to.  One of my favourites of the exhibition was this felted piece, it was such a simple shape, but so elegant - something to which I aspire.

The last night we went down to the Delmar Loop where we ate lunch at the BlueBerry Hill, which was an old haunt of Chuck Berry.  The current owner has masses of pictures on the wall of himself with an eclectic mixture of musicians old and new.  We really felt we were in a place full of history.

A sculpture of Chuck Berry along with stars in the sidewalk of all the famous people who had come from St. Louis - a surprising number in fact.

Our last day we spent in the Botanical gardens where there was quite a lot of Chihouli glass, some floating in ponds, another large one hanging from a ceiling at the entrance and then this one, that I particularly liked.

With my brain completely full, exhausted and definitely over eaten - I am looking forward to a snowy winter where I can digest all of the information and see if any of it informs my own work.

Monday, April 1, 2019


Articulation Textile Group currently have an exhibition at the Portals Gallery in Duncan.  The exhibition is based on a study retreat the group organized in Tofino a couple of years ago.  Tofino happens to be my favourite place in Canada, if not on earth!  I love the wildness of it and even on a summer's day when there are lots of people around, Long Beach is so vast, people disappear into little dots in no time.


This piece is based on a quote I saw in the Maritime museum in Sidney, where they talked about the devastating effect that plastic shopping bags are having on sea creatures.  The floating plastic bags resemble jellyfish and are ingested by unsuspecting birds and mammals alike. My piece, "Jellyfish" is made with armatures from plastic straws and the rest of the jellyfish are made from single use grocery bags.  The whole thing twists in the breeze and is quite ethereal.

Waves Upon the Shore

I love to walk along Long Beach and watch the waves crashing and gently rolling in upon the sandy shore.  There is something very peaceful about watching waves, even when the weather is bad.  Something primeval I think. Then there are the various sea birds running along the shore line.  This piece is made in felt, attaching layers of felt and wet felting them in.  I added some knitted linen while felting the individual waves and then added some beads and french knots to give a bit of depth and sparkle.

Gifts from the Wrack Line

The other fun thing to do on the beach of course is to walk along the wrack line, the line where the high tide has left a line of gifts of shells and seaweed and other bric a brac to find.  I chose to represent the gifts, although I was tempted to include the awful amount of trash that can be found these days, old shoes, the ubiquitous plastic bottles etc.  Instead, I had a great time interpreting the gifts that can be found, using felt as a medium.  They ended up being like little sculptures.

I will be heading out to Duncan to attend the Artists Reception on April 13th.  The invitation is below. All are welcome!

Friday, October 12, 2018


So - finally the elephant has been birthed!  I dont know why this one was so difficult to resolve and get finished - well, I do know why, it was technically quite challenging.  

This is how it has been for quite a while.  The challenge was that I wanted to light up the picture of my grandfather as if you were seeing him deep in a tunnel of forgotten memory. I had originally wanted to have a motion sensor that would turn on the light when someone passed in front of it.  But the challenge was finding batteries that would last long enough that the people at the exhibition didn't have to change them every few days.  It is not always possible to plug things in, so I wanted to avoid the necessity of having a power outlet.

So this is how it has turned out.  There is a light switch button in the middle of the poppy on the left

Which the viewer will have to press.  Not ideal, but it should take so little power that the batteries hopefully will last the entire show.

This is the side view to show the "tunnel" idea.

Strategically placed poppies to hide the ugly joining mechanism.  However it was necessary to be able to take the whole thing apart so that it can be packed flat into an art portfolio case. The poppies hide the nuts and bolts that hold things together.

Another poppy with the press button in the centre.

Here's hoping Air Canada will treat the box very gently and it will arrive in tact in Victoria. I am excited to help hang the show monday and see it all together in one location.  Having seen bits and pieces of the rest of the group's art work - it will be very fun to see how the finished items look together. 

We will be giving artists tours during the week, so I do hope if anyone has friends likely to be in the area any time from Tuesday until the end of November, you will call in and see the exhibition.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Articulation Textile Group, of which I am a member, have been working on our most recent body of work for exhibition.  Instead of focusing on a landscape theme, this time we each, as individuals, reflected on how war has personally affected us.  For me, I focused on my father's father.  He died when my father was only an infant, and he subsequently grew up without the love and direction of his father.He did well for himself, he was bright and got a good education and became the managing director of the company he worked for, for years. We had a good life.

When my parents died, within eight months of each other, I came across the letters my grandfather had sent my grandmother during the War, together with other memorabilia, and the letter informing my grandmother of his death. After getting on line and doing some research, I gradually learned more about this young man  who had left such a hole in his family.  My husband and I went to Belgium, to see his grave and then went to Ypres to the Flanders Field Museum.  It was a profound experience, the entire trip.  My work,has been greatly influenced by it.

Our work will be exhibited at the Sidney Museum on Vancouver Island.

This piece is called A Blanket for my Grandfather and the poppies reflect the number of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who are direct descendants of my grandfather. It was made to lie on his grave in Spierre churchyard.  Instead of leaving it there, I instead made one felt poppy and left it on his grave. I hope it is still there.

This is A Message of Peace.  It is in Morse Code, a universal language, of a passage from the Old Testament.  Isaiah is a revered Prophet in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic tradition. This passage he wrote of Peace has been written in many different languages, Maybe translating it into Morse Code will reach even more people.

News from the Front: I found the letter informing my grandmother of my grandfather's death. This is a copy of  a huge photograph of my grandfather that hung in my grandmother's tiny living room, until the day she died.  The twenty poppies denote his age when he was killed. 

So Many Crosses is an interactive piece, where the audience is invited to add a few more stitches in the knitting to remember a loved one killed in the many wars since and including the First World War. I was involved in a project in Calgary, knitting poppies to be added to thousands of others that will be hung from the Cathedral's spire this Remembrance Day.  I was on a roll, knitting poppies when I realized they were the perfect embellishment for the stool where people can sit and knit.

I have one more piece, which has been giving me trouble finishing it off.  It is completely made apart for an illumination device which I have been fiddling with for ages.  I have to come to a decision and get this done so it is ready to take with me to the exhibition. Why is it some pieces just come out fully formed and easy to make, while others feel like birthing an elephant!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018



Contextural members took part in the Materialities Exhibition this summer at Alberta College of Art and Design.  Both Contextural members and artists who had been participants in the Summer Residency program, participated in the end of the Residency exhibition.

I had spent the summer experimenting with natural dyeing.; a technique I have not really explored before.  I tried to use plants available to me in the garden or if they were abundant in the wild, I used some different wild plants.  Mostly I used plants available in my garden.

The end of year piece, which I called "COLOURS OF HOME"  was made up of a background nuno felted piece, on which I embroidered leaves with natural dyed thread, mostly silk.  The three pieces of organza I eco printed with rose leaves and various rose petals and peony leaves and petals.  The pot that I boiled the bundled fabric in had a layer of apple and peony leaves, together with some rusty metals chains.

The leaves were cut out of all the samples of different dye samples that I had made over the summer.
My conclusion at the end of my experimenting was that there are a lot of different yellow, beige and brown dyes, available from plants.  I have yet to add different after effect to my samples, which should give me some more greens probably.  However, I was quite pleased with the beautiful colours that I thought looked quite lovely together even though many colours of the spectrum were absent.


AUGUST, 2018

Just returned from our Articulation Meeting in Waskesiu.  We stayed at Elk Lodge, just outside the park.  It was a perfect place for our group to meet with lots of possibilities for both outings and time to get together in the cabin to work on projects, talk and eat, and have our annual general meeting.  There were also facilities for manicures and pedicures, swimming and places to hike as well as a couple of restaurants when we wanted a change from cooking.

We went on a trip about an hour north of Waskesiu to La Ronge.  The lake was beautiful and so nice to be away from the smoke of Calgary.  

We talked to a lady, loading up the plane to travel to a camp way up north where she was going to cook for a camp of geologists.

Looks like a sculpture, rather than a piece of old metal!

We went on a tour of a wild rice processing plant.  I bought some rice to bring home, and it is the best I have ever had.  Delicious.

A Canada 150 frame at Waskesiu lake.

Our usual group photo, with one missing unfortunately.  Notice several of us had a manicure!

We went to the new Remai Modern Museum in Saskatoon.  It is a beautiful building.

Very interesting touches everywhere.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It has been such a long time since I have posted anything on this blog, but with a milestone birthday this year, it is time to move on and make this blog more reflective of where I am right now.

I have just returned from a wonderful few days at the Surface Design Association Conference in Portland.  Talk about filling the well! The speakers and Petchakucha artists all were talking about their work; my head was spinning with fresh inspiration and ideas.

There were speakers talking about issues of social justice, climate change, gender; Felting, basketry, natural dyeing;  Meditation, Futuristic textiles and bodymapping.  And on and on and on.  Wow! and then there was the wonderful dinners out and wine consumption in our room with old and new friends.

A few quotes to send me off in to the future: "it takes a lifetime to get to exactly where you are"
"Be bold for what you stand for and be careful for what you fall for" "how does my current work serve as witness", "transformative power of story telling"

It was also interesting how many artists said they first learned to stitch, knit, sew from their Grandmothers - what a responsibility that puts on all of us who are grandmothers.  Have we passed on our love of textiles to those most important to us?  Both men and women referenced being taught by their grandmothers.

Interesting modern buildings in Portland

It was really stiflingly hot while we were there - definitely more tequila weather than soup weather!

This was a very large textile display in Portland airport

You could see smoke all the way home from Portland which made for interesting photos, but not good for the forest fires.

So - what was the take home from the conference?  I really need to have a story or message in my work in order for me to be passionate about it.  I am tired of doing work that is organized by others, and work that is just frivolous or decorative just doesn't do it for me.  There has to be a story.  Time is running out and my favourite quote of all is particularly pertinent now:  "art is a language - be sure you have something to say".  Nature, the beauty and the changes that are taking place with climate change are really important to me.  I need to step up and make sure I pass my love of all textiles onto my grandchildren.

I hope to start working on some new projects that I become passionate about.  Watch this space!