Friday, January 20, 2017


the yellow wall paper, 1988  hand made paper, cotton, fuzing and stitch,
typed text from Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story 
I have a lot of news.
I am putting it into this single post.
All illustrations are stitched paper pieces I made when I was 32 or so. (sorry,they are scanned from slides and some are fuzzy}
"I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall paper until I felt creepy"
I'll give the bad news first.

1.  I am NOT going to be teaching at Fibre Arts Australia in April because of my left leg pain and lameness.  I think the pain is greater now than it was last fall.
Charlotte Yde from Denmark will be taking my place, (good news}.
section of diptych Woman is Nurture  watercolour on paper, stitched to velvet, found text 1987
 2.  I am preparing a solo show for a commercial gallery in Toronto for this coming October.  The gallery is the David Kaye Gallery.  (good news)
I am making new work for it.  (more good news)
Grandmother's Paper Garden 1987, women's magazine papers stitched to cotton
3.  I am included in a new book about the history of the art quilt.  The quilt that will represent me is from the 80's  here and here  I'm very thrilled to be included among such important quilt artists as Nancy Crow, Dorothy Caldwell, Yvonne Porcella, Chungie Lee, Michaael James, Yoshiko Jinzenji...on and on.  here is the entire list.  (good news)
The Mother The Child 1988 cut up watercolour painting and family photographs stitched to damask,
overlayed with ink drawing on sheer organza 
 4.  That reminds me that Martha Sileman's International Art Quilts: Abstract and Geometric came out last month.  (here)
the mother the child detail ( nine-patches made from photos of my childhood and paintings of tree branches)
 5.  I saved the best news for last.
the mother the child 1988 stitched paper on damask , a self portrait
We have a new baby in our family.  Maia was born Thursday January 19, a little sister for Aili.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

the river beneath

I'm always taken care of by my work.
You let go of your own idea and let the work go where it needs to go.
And that's sometimes very uncomfortable.
One learns to linger in discontent and not be judgmental, but to have faith.
Kiki Smith

more views of this piece in   New Work,  the river beneath.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dear Dorothy Caldwell

Dorothy Caldwell  Canyon 2012   stitched cotton earth ochre 13 x 17 inches 
Dear Dorothy

I just finished reading the article in the recent SAQA journal.  It is very well done and I believe that it respects your work and long career.  Congratulations.  
Dorothy Caldwell  detail of Canyon
I very much enjoyed reading it and re-visiting the large pieces from Silent Ice / Deep Patience,
Dorothy Caldwell Before the Glaciers Melt plant dyed with stitching and applique 14 x 17.5 inches
I visited the David Kaye show just before it closed in December and spent a good long while with your work there and with talking to David about our favourites in the show and about some of his own history as a textile artist. 
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Before the Glaciers Melt
I photographed most of the pieces and plan to put up a blog post about that exhibition soon.  (Thank you for your permission).  Also, may I use the quotes by you that are in that SAQA article?   
Dorothy Caldwell  Looking Up / Looking Down  2016  dyed in the Australian outback with iron oxide and eucalyptus printed and stitched cotton, 55 x 59 inches
One thing that I noticed in the new work at David Kaye Gallery is the amount and variety of the hand stitched marks.  
Dorothy Caldwell  detail of Looking Up / Looking Down
Do you agree that there is more stitching in these new pieces than in previous work?  I love the way that you draw with a couched line - and how sometimes just the wrapping threads have been left behind from a removed thread, evidenced by a line of dots.      
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Looking Up / Looking Down
Dorothy Caldwell   New Growth in Pink Earth   2016  stitched cotton, pink earth ochre  17.5 x 15.25 inches
 In the article, you mentioned the difference beteen a painter's gestural mark and a stitcher's smaller and perhaps tighter hand muscle mark, and how you are  seeking ways to make energetic marks. 
Dorothy Caldwell detail of New Growth in Pink Earth

Dorothy Caldwell   detail of New Growth in Pink Earth
I shall carry this (energetic) idea forward into my own work in hand stitch. 
Dorothy Caldwell  Silent Fog / Listening  2016  stitched cotton with ink wash  11.25 x 14.5 inches
 I also responded to the quote about how you initially view your work with despair but also are grateful for the flaws and mistakes as they give you a place to repair.  
Dorothy Caldwell  Crossing the River 2016  plant dyed and stitched linen 12.5 x 9.25 inches
 Thanks for both these inspirational ideas.
Dorothy Caldwell  Outcrop  2012  stitched cotton with earth ochre  13 x 17 inches
 "A stitch is a mark like any other mark.  It is a dot, a line, a texture.
One of my questions is how the mark made with a needle and thread is similar to or different from a drawn or painted mark.
The act of stitching involves the small muscles of the hand while seated.  In contrast, a painter may use his or her entire body to make a mark.
I often think about how to make an energetic stitch - a stitch with a sense of gesture."
Dorothy Caldwell
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Outcrop 
Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

my light green heart

I stitch my soft green damask with green threads and it gets heavier and softer.

I worked on it during the family week between Christmas and New Year's,
I kept going even though it seemed every evening that I should let it drop into the pile of abandons.
I added red thread.

I stitched it while surrounded by family.

It's green like a leaf.
It comforted me like a tree, hiding my nervousness
containing my creativity
It allowed me to be present for them because it was only my hands doing busy work
I was not not engaging my mind.

Or limping body.
The tucks I am adding make it shorter.

In the mornings I continued, the boys and their dad downloaded the newest star wars game,
my daughters slept.

The greenness is why I started it.
That and the old-ness of the cloth.
The softness.
April called it a worry cloth.

I often stitch while engaging with my family.

Somethimes I go too far and the cloths need to have sections erased or removed

Moon cloth is an example of a worry cloth,
Also silver water and Canadian Pioneer.
On New Year's eve I couched a red line and drew a circle and decided to add more tucks.

This piece is about adding.

Adding and erasing.
These tucks hide some of the dots I made.
Tucking under, covering up.

my light green heart
I stitched all day yesterday.
I thought  yesterday was my last day with this piece.

We drove the girls to Sudbury and I stitched all the way there and all the way back
and then again before and after dinner,
and then some more in front of two episodes of homeland
and for two more hours after Ned went to bed.
It's late afternoon as I write this, snowing really hard and here I am, continuing to stitch tucks into the green heart.

the texutre of them, standing proud.
hiding things within  their creases
iniviting me to touch and manipulate.
I look at the boston fern that I've kept alive - thriving - for three years.
I stare at the repetitive small shapes that line up along the leaves

and the greenness of it makes me happy this January day.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

happy new year!

 A family party.
Q:  What begins with t, ends with t and is full of t?
A:  Tea pot.
Q:  What is the hardest thing about learning to roller skate?
A:  The sidewalk.
happy new year 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

quilt in use

Aili Evelyn 30 months

 It's nice to see Aili using the quilt I made her .  She had it in her crib last October when we visited.
 Her room is filled with colour and light, another of my quilts is on a wall.
That one (pictured above) is inspired by an Emily Carr painting, and is covered with blanket stitch embroidery - quilting.
 I was pleased to see that these quilts are such an important part of my grand daughter's life.
We visited Aili again just before Christmas, and found out that she has moved out of her crib into a big girl bed. After all, she's going to be a big sister in January!
I hope that her quilt will help her through this big transition.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

the quiltness of the quilt

I am interested in the long tradition of making pieced quilts.
I mean the tradition of women finding patterns in their every day life and arranging the colours and shapes to represent abstract notions from their lives. 
But also I mean the joy we receive from the juxtaposition of colour and shape and fabrics and the feel of it all.
I believe that quilt making is one of the places a creative hard  working woman could find herself.  Even when there were so many other daily tasks and children and old people to be responsible for, a women could turn to the quilt she had on the go in stolen moments and look at it.  Adjust it.

This is the tradition I mean.
Women who make quilts are artists and they always have been.
I love that.
Laying it on the floor to figure it out - moving one colour here and there...realizing that this particular piece of cloth needs to be removed.

Denyse Schmidt says:
"Looking and seeing is the only way to know.  If I am not happy with how a quilt looks, the only way past this is to uncover what is not working by trying other solutions.  I wish I could say it gets easier, but somehow it is always the same.  It is less painful if you give yourself over to it and accept that design is a process of trial and error, of getting out of your own way, and of knowing your tools."
If you have seen my process blog (link in upper bar) you will know that I made a lot of adjustments in the medallion quilt top pictured in this post.
In an old journal, I wrote about some luxurious deep-coloured wool crepes and silks meant for dress making that I saw in a fabric store and my idea of hand piecing and hand quilting them.

"These luxurious quilts, hand pieced and densely hand quilted, would rely on those materials and their quilt-ness for their value.  The meaning of these beautiful quilts would be themselves." 1995
This old longing inspires me to work again with the quilt-ness of the quilt as a metaphor for an elder, a  woman who is beautiful from within herself.

Her own quilt-ness.
All those little adjustments
made over a long period of time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Judith and Sheila and bundles, oh my

Judith Scott  Untitled
This post is about two exhibitions I viewed at the end of October 2017 during a visit to Toronto.
First:  Judith Scott at Oakville Galleries
I admire this artist's exploration of wrapped form.
This exhibition satisfies as the maze of large plinths display the work well and invite the viewer to come close to the pieces.  A chart on the wall of their drawn outlines informs us that they are all named  "untitled" and were made between 1991 and 2004, the year before Judith Scott passed away.
 This one reminds me of a book wrapped shut.
My body understands these objects better than my mind does.  When I look at them, my arms feel the familiar gesture of wrapping, repetitive and large, a healing motion that carefully covers something mysterious with threads.  It all makes me feel better.
The exhibition  of Judith Scott's bundles continues until the end of this year.
Sheila Hicks    Perpetual Migration 
 Sheila Hicks Material Voices was on show at the Textile Museum of Canada.
Again - wrapped forms.  These tall narrow bundles are bamboo wrapped with cotton, wool, metal wire, linen and coins and are a small section of Sheila Hicks' large installation from 2015's Art Basel which dwarfed viewers at 14 feet x 40 feet.

Lares and Penates
1990 - 2013  Sheila Hicks
Wrapped Memories
This method of displaying small circular bundles across a wall is very inspiring.
The textile museum has audio clips of Sheila Hicks speaking about her work throughout the gallery.
Her voice as so full of joy.  You can hear her passion about the materials she explores.
Mandan Shrine 2016
Linen, cotton and synthetic, Sheila Hicks
This piece uses 'pony - tails- her own method. The artist puts long pieces of soft linen threads together and then binds them tightly and neatly with bright threads.
Dotted here and there within this exhibition of large sculptural pieces, are some of Sheila Hicks' miniatures,  woven experiments that she has continued doing for her entire career. (50 years).  The two shown here are very recent.  A book devoted to this body of small works is precious.
Above,  Sentinel des Sentiments 2016
Below,  Cour de Rohon 2015
Say yes before saying no.
Include rather than ignore and exclude 
Always carry a pencil, paper and camera.' 

Sheila Hicks

This beautiful exhibition is on view at the textile museum of Canada until February 5 2017