Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Respiration: an Outdoor Felt Installation

One of my big summer projects is an outdoor felt installation created for the juried exhibition LandArt @ ArtCraft.

I have been fascinated with Land Art for many years, and allowed the whisperings of a felt installation to roam around in my imagination...When the call for entry for this exhibition came up, I knew exactly what my proposal would be...I was juried into the show, but given a different location to the one on which I had based my proposal. I didn't think much of this until many months later when I was ready to approach this new work, and started to spend time in the space. My original idea just did not respond to the environment.   So I visted regularly, observing and sketching and thinking...until the new work presented itself. (I will tell you sometime about the original idea, as I still plan to make it and present it in a different location this summer!)

In Land Art I see two distinct relationships. The artist meets the site and responds to it's characteristics, developing a relationship and then a concept for that space.  And then the artwork meets the site,  and it too responds to it's characteristics. How will the artwork react with the changing seasons, weather patterns, growth of plant material, animal behavior, movement of the light, and wind? There are so many components to be aware of  and potentially respond to. It is a very exciting and dynamic "gallery"!
  It has been a fascinating process,  immersing oneself in the space, observing it's seasonal nuances: the light, the wind, the foliage, the earth...

 In the late spring when I saw the strong leaf patterns, emerging on the trees, I knew this would be the right form for this work. A collection of felt leaves, connecting the trees with the earth, filling in the air in between. When we started the installation, I was amazed to see the leaves moving in the breezes, coming up from the harbour. I had no idea until that moment that there would be a kinetic aspect to the work. But it is perfect. The air movements change the relationship each leaf has with the sunlight, illuminating the surface patterns in new ways, with each viewing.

 My artist statement on the work sums up where my planning went within the space... 

As an environmental art sculpture, Respiration relates to air and light. The soft, wool felt forms stand in relationship with the strong vertical lines of the trees, grasses and plants within the garden.  The white felt leaves have delicate surface textures, telling a story of  movement; of air currents and rhythm. As the sun moves, the felt leaves are backlit and illuminated, showing their patterns with different intensities, casting shadows and being cast upon by shadows of the surrounding foliage. Air movements catch the leaves, changing their relationship with the light and the viewpoint of the observer.  Respiration is constructed in natural, untreated, white wool and bamboo, primarily from local sources.

Respiration: the act of breathing, the conversion of oxygen (air) into energy....we do it...the leaves do it...The leaves have an inbreath and outbreath, an empty side and a full side depending on the position of the sun. They catch the breath of the wind and move and change... 

 I've been making and installing one or two leaves everyday. This continues my relationship with the space. Everyday I visit, and change it a little...changing the space, and also adding to my vision of the sculptural work, as it grows.  The last pieces go up tomorrow and the exhibition opens on June 26th. 

If you re in the area, I hope you can join us for the opening!

LandArt @ ArtCraft
June 26 – September 20 2015

Mahon Hall 114 Rainbow Rd, Salt Spring Island, BC

Opening w/ Artists on Site: June 26     5:30-7:00pm

Warm wishes, 

Friday, June 19, 2015

SHIFT travels to Vancouver

‘SHIFT’ includes oil paintings by visual artist Barbra Edwards and sculptural feltmaking by fibre artist Fiona Duthie. Both artists use local, natural materials and subject matter in their work with a focus on texture, layers, and colour relationships. Although the artists feel a deep artistic connection, their works are produced autonomously in their respective studios on separate Gulf Islands. In bringing their pieces together, the artists invite the viewer to draw connections between the works and notice their mutual perspectives.

Barbra Edwards’ paintings use dialogue between form and line to interpret her view of the environment on a cellular level. She explores sense of place and how each of us sees things from our own perspective. Edwards cites the natural environment as a major influence on her artwork, and her new series is textured, with vibrant colours surrounded by calm, atmospheric space. She lives and paints on Pender Island.

Fiona Duthie‘s sculptural felt garments employ geological surfaces created through fabric manipulation, stratified textiles and mapping imagery to explore biography and individual perspective. There is a sense of movement in each piece, inferring a geographical, emotional or mental shift. Fiona Duthie is an internationally recognized feltmaker known for her dynamic sculptural clothing and fibre artwork. Felting since 1996, Duthie has a full-time studio practice based on Salt Spring Island.

July 8 – August 8, 2015 Artist talks: Sunday July 12, 2 p.m. Reception: Sunday July 12, 3 p.m.

Seymour Art Gallery 
North Vancouver, BC

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Peaks & Valleys :: Surface Design Online Exhibition

This is a very special project. The first online exhibition of the Surface Design Online Challenge.

The Surface Design Online program is all about experimentation and pushing yourself further into techniques, whether they are new to you, or familiar friends.  I created this challenge and exhibition to continue this exploration with participants from the previous classes.

There is nothing like an exhibition with it's deadlines and parameters to make us stretch our creative thinking. This is  about pushing ourselves to create beyond our usual scope. Challenging ourselves to make something better or different than we have in a new direction, a new scale, take techniques further, shake up our creative practices. Hit a few walls...and break through them.  This stretching is how we all grow as artists....

This is the challenge that was set for the participants in this years exhibition:

Peaks and Valleys. Mountains and Plains, Crests and Troughs. Highs and Lows.....we have all experienced them, whether geographically or emotionally....and creatively!  What could be a more appropriate theme in dimensional surface design than this! Explore the theme as literally or metaphorically as you wish.

And they did. And did so exceptionally...  All from very different levels of experience and creative backgrounds....all employing techniques from the class, but creating work that is completely personal and individual. I think they are all brilliant!

Please do come by and take a look, read their words on how they interpreted the challenge, and share in our enthusiasm and passion for this medium.

Peaks & Valleys :: Surface Design Online Exhibition

Warm wishes, 

Note: We will do this again next year, and the exhibition is open to everyone who has taken, or is currently taking the Surface Design Online class.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Being a Student....

 To close off my teaching season, I decided to give myself a creative gift, and become a student for a weekend. It was such a refreshing and informative time.  Even outside of learning new skills under the extremely talented ceramicist, Julie MacKinnon

 The workshop was held on the my first weekend back after teaching at the Okanagan School of the Arts, and many weeks of both online teaching and on location workshops around the province.  On the first morning of the workshop I was acutely aware of how I was thinking about that day, in contrast to the first day of a workshop when teaching.

 I have no experience with ceramics.  Although I had some projects ideas in mind,  I had no expectation for my own output during the class. I did not expect to make anything close to the quality of Julie's work, whose hands have put in their hours to develop an intimate knowledge of the material. I didn't expect any notes. I expected that any information I needed to retain I would be responsible for noting myself, in images, sketches or words. I loved that I just had to show up with enthusiasm; that all the materials and tools needed were supplied.  I started the morning just looking forward to having a great creative time, with a group of other women, guided through the processes by Julie's knowledge, experience and good humour.

 I was really excited when I saw that Julie was offering this workshop. In one of those exuberant sparks of inspiration I saw how ceramics could provide the perfect base for a line of felt table lamps I have in process. The white felt lighting has a sense of ceramics when unlit...the surface design potential is very similar. I see simple clear glazed white ceramic bases, in perfect relationship with a the matte white felt work.  Julie is wonderful in allowing her students room to experiment and design. The lamp base above will have red linen stitching through the holes in the sides...we can't escape our own material languages! 

 This base is designed to have felted spikes coming through the openings, that have a relationship in balance with spikes on the felt shade. It really is so exciting. 

 I found as a student, with much teaching experience and a lifelong craft practise, I really wanted to understand the materiality of the clay. My hands understand every aspect of the wool fibres as they change as I work. It is intuitive and immediate, and requires no thinking....This is where the 10 000 hours of working as a craftperson brings your understanding of a material. But my hands don't understand clay, like Julie's do. I wanted to know what my fingers should be feeling, and how this would change how I would work with the clay.  The tactile experience and understanding was more important to me than the end product.  Julie was wonderful in answering my questions and explaining the different "hands" when working with clay.


 I became aware that there are two definite approaches to workshops. Really the difference between master/process based classes and interest classes. It benefits everyone to clearly differentiate between these when people sign up for a workshop.  Ceramics will (probably...almost certainly) never be my main material to work with, so my mindset in attending the class was entirely interest based. A little side trip into a new world...I know many people that come to my classes work in felt, and fully expect to take every nuance of what we do home, to integrate into their own work.  This sets a very different tone for both student and teacher.  Both are good and wonderful...but quite different in expectations and delivery.

 I loved having the opportunity to work on the other side of the table, to work with a material that felt familiar and yet very foreign, to talk with all the interesting and creative participants, and learn from such an exceptional much so I'm going back for more in June...The last chance I'll have to play outside my medium before intensive studio time kicks in for the summer. I can't wait, and my sketchbook is filling up with projects that combine felt and clay.  

  If Julie and I could work out the logistics around the firing and glazing of the ceramics, we could create a great collaborative workshop!

You can see more of Julie's work here:
Julie MacKinnon Ceramics
Warm wishes, 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

full(filled) exhibition and Artist Interview

  All of the exhibition pieces for full(filled) are just about finished. Each work is now getting individual attention each day, making it ready for installation on Tuesday. The exhibition is in quite a small but interesting space. This means there are not many pieces in the show- one very large wall that will cover a whole surface of the gallery, three felt skins, and smaller felt sculptures. It will  feel soft and intimate, and I hope invite people into the space and some quiet introspection.

The people at Craft Council of British Columbia have been amazing in organizing this exhibition and promoting the work. It is wonderful to feel so supported.

Link to my interview with the CCBC:
Artist Interview

full(filled) :: February 5th – March 19th 2015. 
Opening Reception :: Thursday February 5th, 7 – 9pm
1386 Cartwright Street, Granville Island, Vancouver

Artist Talk ::  Thursday February 5th, 6pm – 7pm across the street at Carousel Theater 1411 Cartwright Street, Granville Island, Vancouver

Monday, January 19, 2015

Starting in balance....

The Valhallas- the view from our cabin....

In my book of everything (my special black book that some of you will know!) this year is looking just fantastic, and got off to a wonderful beginning with some quiet personal time in a most beautiful place. The Valhalla Ranges in British Columbia. (I honestly did not appreciate the name of the place in looking for a perfect retreat until writing this!).  
Our cabin in the woods...I'm in the middle- almost a head shorter than my youngest two boys!

 My family was in need of some snow time, so we headed up into the mountains where we had rented a log cabin in the woods looking out over gorgeous lake towards snow topped mountains. Idyllic. Quiet. Peaceful. were the natural hot springs we visited in the area...within our creative practises we need some soul nourishment....inspiration that has nothing to do directly with art, craft and design.

I've been working non-stop since returning on my sculptural pieces for my upcoming solo exhibition in Vancouver next month.  More pictures and blog posts of this will come in the next few weeks! It's coming least I tell myself that and believe it (a little) having worked on a few exhibitions feels very tenuous at the moment, but I recognize this as part of the process and normal for this stage.

And I gave an artist talk and workshop to the Victoria Weavers and Spinners Guild this past weekend. They are a vibrant, rich group. It was truly an honour to be invited. They have such full life experiences and a wealth of knowledge and skill in the fibre arts that is deeply humbling and inspiring to be around.

The workshop was in a beautiful space. Lots of light, and a great group of women willing to laugh, explore, get excited about new techniques! It is so energising and enlightening to teach these workshops. I love it.

Hi Leola! She is a dear friend, and I'm looking forward to visiting her in her studio this spring....

A great start to the new year with a trinity in balance that I hope will continue as a theme through 2015. Some time in the natural world, relaxing, dreaming, thinking, breathing (heart); some personal art development time (hands), and some teaching and demonstrating (head).  Each one feeds me in different but equally important ways.  If I can keep the the ratios right, I hope to move through this year in a much more healthy way than the last two.  It feels like a promising start!

Warm wishes, 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Terra Textures-Surface Design in Felt Workshops

 Katia Mokeyeva and I are absolutely delighted to announce a workshop series to be offered this April at the Okanagan School of the Arts in Penticton, BC.

 The idea is to create a mix and match workshop combination where students can chose an assortment of classes, learn very different felting styles from two enthusiastic, supportive teachers, while creating a complimentary collection of felt wearables. We work from a similar starting point...nature as our inspiration and the space that feeds our creative spirits....and from this core, we then work quite differently in every design, layout and felting process....but both with an emphasis on surface design.   We will both be offering  two  x one day accessory classes, plus a three day garment class on the weekend.

The Okanagan School of the Arts at the Shatford Centre in Penticton is a perfect location for our workshops. Lots of room and a very supportive space, in a beautiful natural setting. Lake, mountains, orchards in bloom,'s quite idyllic....

Full workshop information and registration through the Okanagan School of the Arts will be available On December 15th, 2015. I'll send you the links when that happens.

It really is very exciting! 

Warm wishes,