Thursday, June 30, 2016


Joyful passion that extols female sexual pleasure and the maternal.
The tremendous strength of the female spirit.
This time last year, I was in England, and visited Levens Hall and saw these joyful trees.

circles, domes, eggs, spheres,
boxes, biomorphic shapes, body like materials,
fragmentary, non-linear
are abstractions that represent the female

Lucy Lippard said this in the 70's

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My view

When we first moved to Manitoulin in 1993, I was astonished by how much the water and sky would change in colour, faster than I could paint it and photographs did not do it justice.  I began to make quick sketches into my journal just to name the colours that nature used to paint with through the seasons.  Over the years, I described this enthralling Eastern view of Manitowaning Bay at least a hundred times with my ball point pen into the pages of my journal, responding to the unpredictable gorgeous colours that changed by the hour.
In direct response to my view of Manitowaning Bay, I have made several large stitched textiles.
This one is an immense lightweight square that responds to the slightest breeze.  Monumental Simplicity was made in 2012 from plant dyed wool gauze and hand stitch 108” x 108”
These photos are from 2012.  We took them at dawn at the top of the ridge near where we live.  The photo above is of me sewing the textile to the cord that would then be propped up with wooden poles.  I look back on that experience with Ned as one of our good moments in a long marriage.
I love this view.  I love looking at it still.
It puts me into a reverie no matter what the colours.
This view of sky, water and that strong horizontal line of the Wikwemikong peninsula that devides them has been a constant in my daily life and as I get older, the more I find myself returning to the simplicity of this natural occurance that I live and breathe with.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

nigel peake birds

I am re-organizing the single level of my house so that I can resume work on the project I was doing in my new studio.  I have emptied a drawer and a shelf and have set up my sewing machine and iron.
This book by Nigel Peake was on that shelf.
I think that I'll pass it on to my grand-boys.  They like to draw.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Edited Life: Seventeen Quilts

Something More Magical than it Ever Was  1991  re-purposed family clothing and silk, traditional dark and light log cabin arrangement quilt, hand quilted,by Judith e Martin  90 inches square
The first quilt, Something More Magical Than It Ever Was (shown above) in this edited life story was completed the same year I turned 40.  It is a memory quilt about the early years of our marriage.  The traditional dark and light arrangement of the log cabin pattern reminds us that we need both darkness and light in order to grow, just like a seed does.

Quilt 2:  In the Centre of the Body is the Soul.  The first quilt that I started after our move to Manitoulin in 1993.  It was on Manitoulin that I learned that hand embroidery adds emotional power to the surfaces of my quilts.   Go here for image.

Quilt 3;  I began a series of Velvet Journals in the late 90's.  The idea behind them was that all of us present ourselves to the world, but that our inner self is more interesting and  true.  These ideas continue to surface in my current work. This particular piece is entitled The Rescuer because art critic Lucy Lippard once wrote that quilt makers rescue a woman's life from oblivian. Click here for the front and here for the back of this quilt.  The piece is English Paper Pieced with hand written journal pages and magazine papers.

With Quilt 4, I marked the turn of the millennium with the Millennium Journal Project.
Millennium Jounral (84 days shown of 850) a record of the turn of the millennium in personal code of symbols, 2001 by Judy Martin
For each day between November 1998 and February 2001 I recorded the weather and what I did each day with a code of personal symbols.  I represented my four children with coloured triangles.  Green for Oona, Blue for Jay, Pink for Grace and Multi-Coloured for April.  Those colours seemed to get truer and truer as the kids get older.

Quilt 5:  I began a series of three Amish -style Diamond in Square quilts during the climate of fear that took over the world after September 11, 2001.  Each Stitch is a Prayer (here) was completed in 2003 and was the first of the Protection Blanket series.  Ned and I currently use it on our bed.
War Diary (detail of volume two shown)  2003, set of two cloth books.  A record of 180 TV headlines days during the build up to the invasion of Iraq by Judith e Martin
Quilt 6 is not a quilt actually, but two cloth books.  War Diaries.  Each book holds 90 days (ten 9-patch pages).  Black paper is stitched to each patch and contains the headline of the daily news during the build up to war and concerns about weapons of mass destruction (detail shown above).  Also in each of the books is personal journal text that shows how normal families had to just keep going on.  Two more details of volume two are on my website here and here.

Quilt 7:  Protection Blanket.  Another of the Amish quilts, this one employs sequins to reflect the bad energy as is done in many world cultures.  See here.

Wrapped Form 2008 by Judith e Martin
Quilt 8:  Not a quilt but two bundles, one of which is shown above.  I began wrapping just after my mother died in 2007 and still continue to explore the feeling of well being that repetitive wrapping gives. Not only the baby or the sore finger or leg being wrapped feels comfort, but also the person who is doing the wrapping.  The second bundle can be seen here.
left: self hug 2015 , right: red  sweater 2008, silk hand embroidery on Vintage linen pillowcase by Judith e Martin
Quilt 9:  shown above.  Not a quilt but two embroidered pillow cases.  Wrapping myself in a favourite garment makes me feel better.
Twenty Four Hour Care  2010  cotton and velvet quilt, hand stitched by Judith e Martin  78 " square
Quilt 10:  Making this traditional quilt was healing for me after the loss of my mother, the title reflects the amount of care that she needed for quite a long time.  Ned and I add this one to our bed in the winter.  Twenty Four Hour Care - shown above.

Quilt 11;  Canadian Pioneer.  With this piece, I look back on what it must have been like for my settler anscestors to come to Canada and make a life.   See here.

Quilt 12;  Lake.  The aesthetic of simplicity occurs in my newer work.  I am consciously trying to reflect the awesome sky and water that is my daily view.  I want to make art that gives the feeling of being alone in nature.   This piece is from 2014 and can be seen here.

Quilt 13:  Turning the Air to Cloth and Above Us , a two sided quilt.  Both sides are the right side. Completed in 2015, this quilt is covered and quilted with hand embroidery.  See here and here.
In progress quilt top made 2015 by Judith e Martin, cotton, silk and light weight wool false starts gathered up  80" x 90"
Quilt 14:  At the end of 2015 I gathered up my life so far and pieced it together into the quilt top shown above. Why? you may ask. It does not follow the ideas of simplicity that I want to put into my new work, but instead used up many unfinished pieces, clearing a way.  I think of this as a break-through piece  that helped me find a path to simplification.
In progress quilt with big stitch quilting, Judith e Martin 2016
I'm quilting it with a gauze batting inbetween the pieced top and a silk back.  I'm using perle cotton to stitch multi coloured running stitches horizontally across everything.
Portfolio of Sketches for 90 inch quilts, (Large Emptiness, Small Marks)  36 sketches in hand stitched folder, 13"x13"x 3"   2016 by Judith e Martin
Quilt 15:   Not a quilt but a Portfolio of Sketches (above).  I want to make large square stitched textiles of pared down imagery that allow for contemplation of space and this portfolio holds 36 ideas.  see here

Quilt 16:  untitled in progress, 120 inch square silk quilt completely hand stitched with embroidery - shown here.
Female Figurine / Moon Cloth  2016 by Judith e Martin  Hand stitched indigo dyed wool, human sized

Quilt 17:  The final piece is also not a quilt`and is shown above.  Moon Cloth.   Worked from the inside, displayed like a vessel or ancient goddess figure - it rotates back and forth with the slightest breeze.

Apologies to regular readers of this blog, all works have appeared on the blog before over the years. I write this entry because on Friday, a women's group came to my home and I showed them these seventeen pieces primarily because they were what are in our cupboard.  Every time I speak about my work, the story becomes more fine tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

my fear

"Bravery is the power to keep on.
Having courage is not about not having fear,
but keeping on going in company with that fear"  Cheryl Strayed
I can't even imagine it, but it happened to me.  It happened to my left leg.  It broke in two.
"Once I felt at home working with cloth, I could concentrate on everything I had neglegted.
My body.  My losses.  My anger.  My own goodness.
My yearning for tenderness.  My yearning for social contact. " Radka Donnell
"Legs have to do with personal needs and desires.
The left leg is connected to the authentic part of ourself
The left leg is related to how you feel and what you believe
A painful left leg shows that there is something askew with personal needs and desires"
Wendy Golden-Levitt
The break was a diagonal clean break . It was not crushed, rather the bones crossed over each other. The bone was healthy.  No tumors, it was not porus.  A spiral fracture.
"We have art in order not to perish from truth."  Friedrich Nietzsche
The hospital experience was all about my old crumpled heavy smelly body, and my journal helped me through it.  My journal also helped me to find my self-spirit again.
It gave me a place to just lay it out in black and white who I am.  Really truly.
Oona brought Grace and the boys to visit over the weekend and it was lovely.  Everett beat me at checkers, Jack gave me the lipstick he had helped pick out.  It was the same colour as the one I had lost in Chicago.
The nurse brought black coffee and marmalade toast to me at 6 am , a small kindness, so important.
"Poets:  give up your own will and trust beyond measure."  Luce Irigaray

The femur is the biggest and strongest bone in the body.
"Beauty is an awareness in the mind
It is not an object
It is seen through an object"     Agnes Martin

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


untitled (strange music) 1993 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
42 lightbulbs with extension cord, Felix Gonzalez Torres 
hand stitched quilt in progress (detail)  judith e martin   silk with silk and wool threads
I started to walk but it was too hard.  I couldn't make it to Queen Street.

The diagnosis is stressed muscles and pinched nerves.  Treatent is massage therapy and physio therapy.  Heat packs and special exercises to build up my strength, the left leg is quite weak.  Get back to yoga, aqua fit, and that daily walk.  Consciously work on my balance so that I'm not so afraid of falling.

My work looks minimalist, but it's not.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

At the same time

Repetition is a way to organize the world.
It is a way to help us experience our selves.
In the time it takes to look at the sixty four hankies I am basting into a grid
I experience many other kinds of time.
I experience life and find my own aesthetic in a series of disconnects.
Repetition invokes the already made (memory) at the same time that it invokes the possibility of making something new.
Proust reminds that it is the understated and the apparently indifferent that gives the necessary ground for heightened intensity.

(journal thoughts after reading The Infinite Line by Briony Fer)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

new studio space

the east wall (ten feet high)
the west wall (ten feet high)
 the south wall (with a window on main street)
the north wall (door gives idea of height of these walls)
I'm renting a new studio space separate from my house.
I'm so happy to have this again as I've been without one since summer 2013.
When I go there, I work on just one project.

It has morphed from something about my daily walk
to something more
something about the days of my life and their accumulation
set down in an orderly way
step step step
the hurdles and burdens
the joys and unexpected visions
a summing up, a reflection
a frugal using up
a path through it all
a luminous halo.

Life is a luminous halo, a semi transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.  Virginia Woolf