Sunday, October 23, 2016

national gallery visit

Jutai Toonoo The Arsennal 2012, Oil Stick on Paper  Cape Dorset
I'm writing this from Canada's capital, Ottawa.
Grace lives in Ottawa now, and she and I visited the National Gallery.  We saw several large horizontal artworks on display, like the drawing above by Jutai Toonoo about his mother's cancer treatment.
We also viewed Robert Houle's Kanata. a conte crayon drawing over acrylic that appropriates the history painting (1770) by Benjamin West about the death of General Wolfe on the plains of Abraham. This battle between the English and the French is a pivotal moment in Canadian history.
 "Native people are just voyeurs in the history of this country" Robert Houle
Robert Houle won Canada's highest honour, the Govenor General Award  in 2015.  The following is from the G G web description.

Working from his knowledge of Anishinaabe conventions of abstraction embedded in such arts as quillwork, and from his research into Western art history, Houle has forged a new, and distinctly Indigenous, visual language, informed by complex currents of Aboriginal traditionalism, European realism, and American modernism, and shaped by autobiography, historical events, and contemporary politics. 
I quote Robert Houle on the latest moderinst aesthetic blog post about Rebecca Belmore.  Here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

needle at sea bottom

illlustration from in the wilds by nigel peake

energy cloth, folded , the back
white stork spreads wings
wedding cloth, draped
needle at sea bottom

robert rauschenberg combine detail, flare chute
reach up to pat horse
robert rauschenberg  untitled 1955, combine painting
carry tiger to mountain
memory of my IV pump, August
go back to ward off monkey
 grasp birds tail
robert rauschenberg combine detail, sock
slanting flying

I started to learn and practice Tai Chi. last month.  The texts in this post are memory aids for this moving meditation.  There are 108 moves.

I am fascinated by the combination of mind and body that is inherent within tai chi.
I discover them as if they are new, but they have been around for years and years.

The images in this post are of things I do not own yet remember deeply.

"I think a painting is more like the real world if it's made out of the real world"
Robert Rauschenberg  1925 - 2008

Friday, October 14, 2016

the greatest pleasure

Q:  What part of the process of making a quilt gives you the greatest pleasure?  
A:  I like every single part of the process, from choosing and dyeing the fabrics, designing the composition, planning and then executing the hand stitched marks and finally, finishing the edges with care.
I love to gently wash a finished quilt and hang it on the line.
Q:  What do you consider your greatest challenge when working with this medium?  
A:  The greatest artistic challenge for me is to retain the simplicity I love.
Q:  Approximately how many hours a week do you devote to quilt making?
A:  I work at least six hours a day, 7 days a week at my art form.  That's 40 - 50 hours a week.
 Q:  How long have you been making quilts?
 A: 45 years
Q:  How has your artwork changed over time?
A:  The quilts have become less auto-biographical and more universal. 

For the last ten years or so i have been using the archetypal shapes of circle, square, crucifix or repeated dots within large scale hand stitched pieces.  
Q:   Who or what has had the most influence on your artwork?
A:  Becoming a mother brought my creativity forward.  For years my artwork reflected on the responsibility and beauty of motherhood.

Otherwise, I would say that studying fine art has been very important to me.  I am continually inspired by looking at art and reading about artists and how they interpret and communicate their relationship with the world. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Penny Berens with her work and mine

Penny Berens with her work (one)
her work (two)
her work (three)
and then with my work side a
and my work side b

The two of us work with local plant dyes, hand stitch, repetition, wool cloth.
Together, we looked at our work in my studio during Penny's visit to Manitoulin last week.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

luminous halo path

This post is about the piece I made for the Elemental festival on Manitoulin Island 2016.
My piece was about the daily walk I've done along my country road for 23 years,
sewing myself to this place.
The theme of this year's festival was "walking".  It took place in the village of Kagawong, about a 40 minute drive from my house.  My piece would be installed along the river and to make it easier to transport, I wrapped it.

Friends from Nova Scotia were visiting for the week and helped with the installation.  Above, Margi Hennen assists 4 element's Patricia with the un-wrapping.
The festival offered a rich mix of activities and entertainment around the walking theme.    
We attended Marlene Creates' presentation of the walking she does to help her learn more about her 6 acres of boreal forest in Newfoundland and also her poetry walks.

My daily walk to Cricket Hill is one km - 1250 steps. (one way)
I sewed strong chains of cloth I have collected for 40 years, a luminous halo that represented my life.

Virginia Woolf said:   Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
The chains are connected to wrapped clover that represents my foot steps.
A life of stepping over and through hurdles and burdens, joys and unexpected visions
Above, Valerie Hearder helps with the installation.

The path has something to do with mortality and summing up and about stitching my self together.
Using the colourful cloth as soul medicine.
Van Gogh believed that colour has power over line.
Line may be the language of reason but colour is sensuality itself.

Every day I sewed a little more, working towards one km of cloth.
Consider cloth.
It is such an important and enduring tactile presence in all our daily lives.
Cloth is what touches our skin, cloth is what we sleep with.
Cloth is tangible, the most intimate and familiar material construction and touching it makes current thought and past emotions visible.
The materiality of cloth is generous, allowing memories of beauty or love to come up to the surface and be a halo or aura that holds each of us.
This project shows faith in the future and faith in myself.

Working with materials reveals me to myself.
I understand my life and my healing through making.
In Eastern cultures the act of joining small pieces together embodies a wish for a long life.
Above, Patricia Mader and Penny Berens help with the installation.

As you walk this path, go slowly.
Match my gait.
Notice your own experience of walking along the river.
Step step step.
My body – spirit steps into the future.
Who knows where?  Answer, the same place.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

spirit island

Manitoulin Island is called spirit island.
Manitoulin has a long history of settlement by a spiritual people.
Traces of these people go back at least 10,000 years in the area where I live.
I am allowing the spirit of place to come into my work.
I live on Manitoulin Island and I am white.
The culture that is true to the place where I live is not mine and I keep that in mind.  
The spirit in this land is generous and alive.
I use a hoop to help me hold the cloths I stitch.
When I work at a large scale, I feel as if the hoop helps me to hold the land.
Place and the spirit in the land are held in my lap.
Like each of us, I walk my own path of life story.
I have always lived in northern Ontario and my work reflects the isolation, solitude, big sky and water views that I grew up with and continue to live with. 
 My relationship with this land is that of an immigrant and of a settler.  A Canadian pioneer.
I look to history books, novels and poetry about the time periods in Canada when the settlers came.
I am inspired to work with vintage domestic embroideries and linens and wool blankets because so many of them came over from the old country.

I try to help them and me have a dialog with the land here in northern Canada.
I think about what daily life was like for the women pioneers and look at material objects that might hold history of it.
It takes me a long time to figure out how to honour these old textiles and make them relevant within contemporary thought and aesthetics.

I used the house shape in earlier work and now I use the bundle as metaphors for self and for the women pioneers who came to Canada and specifically, came to Manitoulin.  
I use saved domestic cloths.

I use the idea that all of us look out our windows no matter what our culture.
 All of us look at the full moon and the stars.
All of us stare endlessly at the horizon.

The text and pictures are from the talk I presented last Thursday in London Ontario.
More here.