Thursday, June 25, 2015

exhibiting in Toronto

An installation of my work is going up today in Toronto, Canada at the Campbell House Museum, corner of Queen and University.  If you live in Toronto, it's that little brick building that you hardly notice behind the tall iron fence.  Here's a good photo of it.

The opening is 6 pm tomorrow evening, June 26.
The exhibition is P0P F0LK T3XTIL3S and I am one of four artists included.

Ned is installing my work based on how we did it last March in Sudbury.  Above, you can see him and Sophie LeBlanc (curator of the exhibit) discussing how and where the variety of elements will be placed in the formal ball room of the house/museum.
In this post I've included images of the green cedar-twig wraps I made and gave away last March.
Little poems.
Catching and holding their own process.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm not there, I'm here

It feels as if I'm taking a year off
and living just one day at a time
and the simplification

living away
from garden
is as if I am on retreat.

Or is it in retreat?

This isn't real life.

Yet parts of it are better, simpler.

These images taken from the car window.
We drove in northern England today.

The sky was like a blanket and I pulled it over my head.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baker Lake embroideries

detail of embroidery by Elizabeth Quinningnaaq

embroidered wall hanging from Baker Lake by Canadian Inuk Artist Elizabeth Quinningnaaq

embroidered wall hanging from Baker Lake by Canadian Inuk artist Annie Taipana

detail of embroidery by Annie Taipana

Embroidered Wall Hanging from Baker Lake by Canadian Inuk Artist Annie Taipana

detail of embroidery by Annie Taipana

embroidered wall hanging from Baker Lake by Canadian Inuk artist Linda Nuilaalik

Embroidered Wall Hanging from Baker Lake by Canadian Inuk artist Victoria Mamnguqsualuk

detail of embroidery by Victoria Mamnguqsualuk

detail of embroidery by Annie Taipana, Canadian Inuk artist

visual art is a language.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I have been painting these circular lines with thread for months.
I told myself that I have a dead-line - that I need to focus.
But the truth is that I need to finish something.
I need to complete something that is evidence of my daily labour, evidence of my devotion and evidence of my contemplation.
Circles may be endless, but I am not.
I work to make the fragile marks less like lines and more like brush strokes.  I want this sky to be a summer sky - even better, a sky in early spring.
Fresh, nearly aqua,
not turbulent or stifling
nor too pretty.
I want these concentric circles to open outwards into a bright future and I want to communicate this positive feeling about the future to others.
Yes, sometimes, a murder of crows flies across the bright calmness of the sky.  It actually happens quite often.

A sudden burst of darkness, it just happens.
But it's fleeting.
The circle is what is eternal,
rotating like a wheel,
on and on,
calm and blue,
mark after mark,
line after line.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

women's work, women's worth

I am re-blogging  someone else's post
about women's self esteem
and speaking out loud about our own worth
and our own work.
Arlee Barr shared it on facebook, which is how I found it.
Here it is:        The Pale Rook - June 5
However, all the images in this post are of the vintage crazy patchwork art-piece that Julia McCutcheon brought in to share with the slow stitch group last week.  She'd brought it in before, but I didn't have my camera with me and I asked her to bring it again so that I could photograph it.
 I thought that you might enjoy the zig zags and the birds,
the red thread,
 and the re-purposed hems from vintage linens.
The outlining of those perfect bits, discovered and saved.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

like a bird in the darkness

henri matisse goache on paper, cut and pasted on paper 1946  Oceanie, le ciel
Oceanie, le ciel 1946 by Henri Matisse detail  with glass reflection
Henri Matisse continued with his quest for innovation into old age and made monumental cut-outs while bed-ridden
detail of Oceanie le ciel 1946 cut and pasted paper

Oceanie, le ciel 1946  Henri Matisse  goache on paper cut and pasted on paper, 169cm x 395cm each section
 collection of the musee departmental Matisse, Le cateau Cambresis.
Matisse made this design into a screen print on linen in 1948
included in The Oasis of Matisse exhibition, Stedelijk museum Amsterdam until Agust 16 2015
our life is such a little thing,
 like a bird in the darkness 
 finding its way into a banquet hall
 and flying through it
and looking at all the banqueters 
and then flying out the other side

the venerable bede  7th century

Saturday, May 30, 2015

regarding my teaching

slow stitch sampler by judy martin
Q:  Do you have a favourite fibre technique?  what is it and why do you love it?

A:  I love to stitch.  I think that if life allowed it, I would stitch all day.  The repetitive marks made by hand that I stop now and then to admire with my fingertips, carry me into my boundless self, away from the every day.
Q:  What can students learn from your classes that they can't learn anywhere else?

A:  A class situation is a very condensed period of time.  What I share in my classes is an attitude of accepting - even loving the slowness of the labour involved in hand stitch and slow design. 
It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide ways of working as an artist once the class is over.
It is the responsibility of the student to absorb as much as possible during the limited class time.  The 'real' work will be done when you are back in your own studio.
Q: Why are your classes so unique?  

A:  Key to my own approach is looking at a lot of art.  I bring samples of world textiles and a wide variety of images into the class. 

For the meditation panels workshop in Newfoundland, I am bringing the four large hand stitched meditation panels of the Manitoulin Circle Project. 
slow stitch sampler by Lucie Medwig
Q: Why do you recommend that students take your class? 

A:  Needles, thread, pencil, paper - these are the first tools - so small, practical and inexpensive. 

You can carry your hand stitching and notebook with you everywhere.  It is life changing to be able to pull out some handwork and stitch because the repetitive movement of your hands seems to allow thinking, dreaming, envisioning.  The notebook is there to capture the ideas that almost always bubble up.  Hand stitched original designs are thus very accessible and also very healing.
Q:  Why do you have such passion for teaching?

A:  I feel that my blog, Judy's Journal, is a place where I constantly teach by example.  I like it because I can reach a lot of people who choose when they are ready to receive my mentoring.  

Actually, I find preparing to teach a defined workshop quite difficult and I either procrastinate or over-prep.  Partly it's because every time I begin to prepare I get so carried away myself by a new idea. 

One good thing that comes out of preparing to teach is that I slow myself down because I am forced to organize my thoughts.  That burst of intense workshop time is so short.  It sounds selfish, but I think I teach others so that I better understand my own way of working, but whoops, now I want to go make another sample.  
slow stitch sampler by judy martin
Q: Talk about your favourite memory from teaching?

A:  I've taught a long time.  I began when I was 16 by teaching classical piano to children.  I taught primary school for two years and then more piano when my children were in school.  I also taught art classes in my studio and through the local community college.  I've taught workshops at conferences and to quilt guilds.

However, my favourite memory of teaching is from when I showed my daughters and nieces the basic hand stitches, and then listened to them chat to each other as they manipulated their needles. Quiet satisfaction came over them as they improved.  The knowledge that my girls have these skills pleases me because stitching is a way to happiness. 
Q: Can you share a direct experience related to fibre?

A:  When I reflect upon the Manitoulin Circle Project I realize that it was an act of social change.  People told me that the gathering together every week of women from the community to make the four large contemporary quilts (meditation panels) was a magical thing, but I didn't really take in the importance of the project until I had time to look back on it.  

There are so many concerns in our lives today, just listen to the news.  The meditation panels do not dismiss the fearfulness but they can give us hope and Jack Layton told us that hope is better than fear.  These panels were made by real people as gifts for the future and are a tangible way to show belief in that future. 

They are made from reclaimed tablecloths, wool blankets, and lace doilies, textiles that contemporary families have no use for and keep in bottom drawers or give away to thrift shops.  Wool blankets, useful during the cold Canadian winters, and linen tablecloths, which in previous times were laid out on Sundays so that families could sit face to face and discuss, announce, plot, or celebrate are now transformed into touch filled celebration panels.  They are permanently installed in a church sanctuary where people come to sit and be quiet.  When the church goer returns the following week and gazes upon a favourite panel, he/she can re-visit worries from the previous week, or the plots, or the dreams.  Meditations are kept safely.  In this way the panels are like a private place one might have in nature, a thinking place.  

Layers of time are embedded in them not only from the old materials, but also the four years of time that we the makers put into them, and the time that each thoughtful congregant returns with week after week.  All this time is held by those panels for the future.  

The process of community coming together to slowly hand stitch these panels from beautiful but used domestic textiles is something to celebrate.  Those panels represent a gentle, slow revolution.  A change of attitude, a social change.  Where the doing itself is more important than the object.  When people work together, more is more. 

The opportunity for my students to see the hand work and touch the panels is probably the best thing about the workshop I will be teaching at the Newfoundland conference. 
slow stitch sampler by margot bickell
Q:  What is your favourite tool, accessory or yarn in your studio right now - the go to product that you frequently turn to? 

A:   I would not be able to create the work I do without my design walls.  At home I have 3 walls covered with 12 inch square ceiling tiles. Other important tools are my journal, my digital camera and my kitchen timer.  I set the timer for one hour...and magically it seems as if I have all the time in the world.  
Q:  In addition to your craft what else should we know about you?

A:  I've never lived in a city.  I visit cities, but I have lived all my life in rural isolated areas.  I think that this absence from the urban has given me a deep understanding of the hand made and of our human inherent connection to nature.  I'm not confronted with cement, high tension wires and consumer goods every single day and never have been. My husband and I made a conscious effort to give our four children a rural childhood with easy access to lakes and open spaces.  I think it is a gift they will cherish more and more as they get older.
slow stitch samplers by Lucie Medwig
Q:  What about Fibre Art Newfoundland excites you the most?   

A:  The location!!  Gros Morne is astounding. 

It will be unforgettable for those who have not been to Newfoundland. and I encourage people to visit this beautiful area.  I live on the largest island in a fresh water lake in the world, Manitoulin Island, and it is beautiful too - but Newfoundland is more.  I'm also excited to meet some of the remarkable teachers coming in for this conference.   Also, I have a piece in Wild Pure Aesthetic Wonder, the main exhibition, and am looking forward to seeing it installed in the Discovery Centre in Woody Point.

Images in this post are from my last visit to Newfoundland in April and of the Slow Stitch samplers I have been making along side of others this past winter on Manitoulin.  
This interview is also on the Fibrearts Newfoundland website where one can register for the three day workshop this October.  I've put an updated supply list for the Newfoundland workshop here for those interested. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

charged with energy

When I realize that I have brought something new into the world, I can tell myself again that I am not a fraud.

In this piece I am using a combination of two opposites, the seductive and the repulsive, to create something new.  It's not a story cloth really.
There is no meaning other than an artwork charged with energy.
My thoughts come and go so quickly yet the work progresses slowly.
I'm faster than me.
The threads and fabrics are familiar things used in an unfamiliar way.  What is usually used to make a neat seam or a mended pocket, is used here in a messy and raveled manner.

An affront to what is expected, but like a storm we want to watch, it gives a bit of a thrill.
We want to touch it to see if it's true.
The work starts to invent itself.
It's not that I lose control, but things happen that although interesting are not my original idea.
It's as if I'm ordered to do something that doesn't come from me.
In this piece I am working from the back, which gives me some control.  There has to be order, even though I am using cut bits of threads and frayed cloth which are couched and then covered with snugly pulled running stitch.

I am always working from both sides.

beautiful - ugly
control - lack of control
shape - line
order - chaos
front - back
fast  - slow
Working with opposites is what drives me to continue with the making over a period of months.
For me it's exciting to see the messiness under my control.
Untidiness is the subject.   That's interesting.

The smoother side is a bit too charming, but it is the result of that raw inner making.
I try to give my work that extra edge.