It has been a long time since I have written about this piece.
When I made it, we were living in Kenora, a middle sized town in North Western Ontario, two hours drive from Winnipeg, six hours from Thunder Bay.I was 40 years old and had four children ages 4 – 13 years. My husband had just left Kenora for a new job on Manitoulin Island, and the children and I would soon follow him there. It was the final year of my fine art degree from Lakehead University and I made this piece for my degree exhibition. One of my advisors was Mark Nisenholt, who I will always remember as the one who loaned me his copy of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space. I have my own copy of that book now, and re-read it regularly.
Sewing and quilting were not looked on with favour by the university, but for some reason, that did not deter me. Rather, I was stubborn about it and built this house with thread. I poured attention and time into it. Ned was gone and I needed to finish the drywall and painting that had been left undone in our home so that we could sell it. I sewed the magazine papers to the canvas in the middle of the night while the children slept.
That was the year that I shared a studio with Barbara Sprague, an artist who was in the same stage of her fine art degree with Lakehead. The studio was important to me. I needed to pin the papers up on a wall and step back from them to look, I needed to be able to leave them in piles, untouched. I left home for the studio as soon as my four year old stepped on the bus for junior kindergarten in the mornings, and was home again before she was dropped off around 11:30 am.
(This isn’t really an artist statement; it’s more of a memoir. )The way that windows are able to look like gold at a certain slant of light was the impetus for this installation. When I was a child, we lived in the country, and I remember being in the back seat of the car driving home and my mother telling me to look at the golden windows of the houses that we passed. And I did. I looked at them. They had a magical quality.
So magical, that when I was a mother of four and had a house of my own I remembered that idea of looking at domesticity from the outside. Of imagining what it might be like. What it could be like. That is what the outside walls of this piece are about; the dreams and hopes a young woman has for her home and family. So many of those dreams are fed to us by our society’s consumerism and by the fairy tales we are brought up with, but some of them come true.
It’s very complex. I built the walls of my house from small squares of paper carefully cut from glossy magazines that promise a beautiful life.