Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My mother, my self

This year I am reflecting on my  life and on my body of work.   Finding a voice that reflects who I am has taken several decades yet my starting point remains my response to personal relationships and to the passage of time. Much of my work reflects on my experience of a childhood in rural north western Ontario, Canada.

I made this quilt 30 years ago in 1985 as a way to help me understand my mother and it did help. Now as I reflect, I realize that my mother was only 59 when I made this quilt, (I was 34). I suppose that my daughters don't understand me either, but as I age, I am beginning to understand my mother.

Visit body of work at the top of this blog for more info about this quilt.

Friday, January 29, 2016

time is my subject

I've been working on labeling my wrapped journals  with black velvet cloth and white silk thread.
The labels are easy to read, the books not so much anymore.  (they are wrapped shut)
 Even if I didn't keep a diary to make notes, nature would still cycle by.
Even when things and people get tired, wear out, time keeps going.  Steady.
My journals intensified time's whirl for me as I lived through it.
Reading them over reveals to me how we are connected, time and me.
It's existential, this body of work.
I noticed.  I paid attention.
Time passed anyway.
I tried to hold it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


 me:  SISU
him: What?
me:  SISU,  Finnish Sisu.
him:  (nods)
me:  You have sisu !
strength of will
positive attitude
 him: SISU (big smile)
Dad is still in hospital, but he has sisu.  He is OK.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

reflecting again

In 2005, I made several stitched collages using leaves, photographs, an embroidery that I cut up, paint,  book binding cloth and thread.  2016 is a year of reflection for me and I hope you don't mind me using this blog as a place to keep things together.  (It's also a year of making...but that's another post)  Occasionally I'll share some journal text.  For example, here is a journal entry from June 2005 about these collages and self doubt.
Friday June 24  4:20 am
Finally I get up from the horizontal and face the demon.  It’s really really difficult to keep going against the self doubt – the who do I think I am-ness, that is heavy all around me.  One of my collages with leaves was accepted into a Toronto juried exhibition.  It’s at the Propeller gallery on Queen St W.  It cost $35.00 entry fee for them to look at my 3 slides.  It cost $100 to frame it.  It’s going to cost $100 to ship it after all is said and done.  Ned has been great.  We drove together to pick it and its two pals up from the framer and he’s found me a huge shipping box.  He tells me that it would cost more for us to drive it down (though in my mind, it would be less pretentious to appear carrying it in a leather portfolio rather than this cardboard box arriving from afar. However, at least by shipping it, I can delay the artists and curator actually seeing me in all my gray headed heaviness.  I wish I could take more comfort in that small blessing.
I still have to write the artist statement and label the piece.  I spent 2-3 hours last night on the computer shortening my resume to one page.  Why  torture myself this way?
And here is one from July 2005.  In celebration of Canada Day (July 1) the exhibition had been placed into several different locales around Toronto and Ned and I found the restaurant where my piece was installed.
July 10
The owner of 93 Harbord where my Slow and Diffident Words collage was on show for ten days told me that my piece was his favourite in the show.
 To see more from this series, click here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

In January

In the winter evenings, we've been watching Borgen.
Oona and her family were here for new year's, April was here for over a week.

Our time together is held with my needle and thread.
I began to go to yoga and am learning how to breathe.
I prepared to teach a workshop and then did.
Ned drove to Toronto for two meetings and it snowed while he was away.
He mended the little chair that used to be his and took it with him for our grand son.
Everything is here in my stitching,
the place of memory.

hold still
keep going

Saturday, January 09, 2016

looking at birds in textile books

The Songbird Arriving  by Janet Bolton  6 x 4.5 inches

crossing the border by Janet Bolton  7 x 4.5 inches
If you haven't fixed on a subject, I suggest that your first picture be a bird.  It allows for incorporating plenty of your own ideas and there is a huge variety of possible bird images to choose from.  Collect pictures of birds and pick elements from several to make your own bird.  Janet Bolton.
the golden star by Janet Bolton  7 x 5.5 inches
The top three images in this post are by Janet Bolton.  Janet uses the simplest of body and wing shape and gives us birds with personality, each holding their own in space.  These three are from her newest book Fabric Pictures)
Eastbound by Ginny Smith  75 x 44 inches  2008
Ginny Smith is fearless in her approach to bird imagery.  Huge black birds made from dark fabrics fly across the bold yellow and blue plaid sky.  Folk art playful!  I visited Ginny's website  and was quite inspired by the many folk art expansions of traditional pieced quilt patterns.  Birds are part of our natural world.  They have innate compulsion.  G.Smith
The photos of both bird pieces (above) by Ginny Smith are from Quilt National catalogues (2009 and 2015).  She speaks further about why she chooses birds to work with in this video.
cuckoo by Nicola Henley   33 x 48 inches  1988
Nicola Henley's birds are made with print making techniques on cotton with hand stitch.  All three of hers are from my beloved copy of Art Textiles of the World Great Britain 
vultures by Nicola Henley 33 x 48 inches 1990
Nicola lives in Ireland and wrote in 1996 why she chooses to use birds in her artwork.  "Portraying birds is a way of drawing people into the work.  It gives the viewer a real intimacy.  Often at private view people will talk to me about birds before they;ll talk about the art.  I want to make work that people can relate to.
Ravens, Coolawn 57 x 74 inches 1995
Stars and ravens are a combination I enjoy - one so black and earthy the other so bright and infinite."  Nicola Henley.  If you visit her website, you will see that Nicola has continued to work with birds.

I recall a poem about a bird alighting on my shoulder, singing a song without words, a song without meaning, without asking or giving.  If you know this poem, can you please let me know if it is Rumi who wrote it?    Thank you.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

year of reflecting

millennium journal inner sonnet
2016 will mark the ten year birthday for this blog.
I have written about 1800 posts. No way!
millennium journal most of november
I started to blog because I wanted some easy way to put my work up online.
I had a website, but wasn't able to fiddle with it myself.  (still do have site, still can not fiddle)
Blogging has given me a voice in the world.  .
This year I would like to reflect on the posts I've written, starting from the beginning.
March 2006.
My very first post has this photo (above) of me speaking at the millennium journal exhibition at Rail's End Gallery in Haliburton, which was up that month.
Like many galleries in small towns, this gallery is a re-model of an historic building. (train station)

There's more to say about the stitched journal I made to mark the turn of the millennium.  I've just started a new blog to help me organize my reflections over the year on this and on the rest of my body of work.   A short cut to this new place is in the top bar of Judy's Journal.  Just click  body of work.

Thank you for your fantastic support for these ten years.  It has meant the world to me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

everything is curved

Anne Truitt was in an airplane, flying over the desert.  She looked out the window and suddenly noticed that everything is curved.

"Seen whole from the air, the global horizon confronted one bluntly as a context all its own.  I had the startling impression that I was looking at something intelligent."

"Every delicate pulsation of colour was met, matched, challenged, repulsed, embraced by another, none out of proportion.  Each was at once a unique and a proper part of the whole.  The straight lines with which human beings have marked the land are impositions of a different intelligence, abstract in that arena of the natural."
She began to see her own life as something between natural and abstract.
nature - culture
earth - human
natural organic - abstract geometry
curved - straight
balance - imbalance
woman - man

"As I live, certain aspects of what is happening adhere to me as if magnetized by psychic gravity. I have learned to trust this center."
"It is as if there are external equivalents for truth which I already know.
I have to stay tuned in to catch these equivalents.
Vulnerability is implicit in this process."
"The process of art contains my intensities but also exorcises those that are beyond my endurance.
I do all this with haste akin to panic.
I depend on making objects as a kind of defense."    Anne Truitt

text found in 1995 journal, paraphrased slightly from the original
new quilt top finished before the end of the year.  Glad both year and quilt top are done.