Monday, June 18, 2018

Landon MacKenzie

Seen at the National Gallery of Canada, this layered painting by Landon MacKenzie.

Tracking Athabasca : Macke it to Thy Other Side (Land of Little Sticks)  1999
acrylic on linen, approximately 7 feet wide

Historical information from an early Hudson bay Company map is combined with colonial government records, doilies and drawings.
Also included are stories as told by the artist's friend,  Doris Whitehead, a woman of Cree, Chipewa and Scottish heritage.  The label on the wall says "Whitehead recounted her stories to the artist while indicating territorial lines in marker on MacKenzie's painting."
Then near by, there were these two small hardcover open notebooks, framed under glass.  The National Gallery explains that notebooks are often exhibited with this artist's paintings of Saskatchewan.

Framing notebooks under glass.
Layering doilies onto paintings.
Allowing another woman to mark up your painting.


how female
how wonderful
Landon MacKenzie teaches painting at Emily Carr University in Vancouver.  She won the Govenor General Award in 2017 for fine art.   Video of the artist here.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

the sun, the moon, and also the stars

moon, wool thread, wool felt 2018  Judy Martin

sun  wool thread, wool felt, acrylic paint ( in progress)  judy martin 

and also the stars  wool thread, wool felt, 2018 judy martin
Intuition and conceptual thought are married in most of my work.
And some of the time they live happily ever after.

But there is usually some tension along the way.

I need to make my work as true as I can.

I rely on the archetypal shapes of circle, cross and dot and use them as language.
The works in this post are the under-sides of pieces made last winter  (see here)

They are the backs I suppose.
Felt drawings
I plan to display them so that the original 'first side' will not be shown.

I don't mind that the original designs will be secret.
Believe me.
I took them outside and laid them in the garden, amongst the caterpillars
and forget me nots.
from left to right:  sun (february)  and also the stars (march and april)  moon (january)  2018
These three pieces document each day of January, February, March and half of April 2018.
I used velvet and found fabrics to make small collages on wool felt

which were then attached together.

I kept going until I ran out of felt.

Then I turned them over, and used the felt 'backs' as if they were pieces of paper
and made completely fresh and new drawings.

Drawings that don't have anything to do with the winter.
These new drawings will have their first showing in Halifax Nova Scotia this summer.
Penny Berens and I have produced an exhibition entitled Cloth Of Time.
the underside of the leaf
cool in shadow
sublimely unemphatic
smiling of innocence

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Carol Mahtab

Carol Mahtab (1935-2012), artist and environmental activist, lived in Digby Neck, Nova Scotia.
This post shows some images from her sketchbook, part of an exhibition of her work entitled still and moving that showed at the ARTsPLACE gallery in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada in 2015.
Visitors were allowed to handle and photograph the sketchbooks, and these images were taken by my friend, Penny Berens.
"Carol's contemplative abstract works reflect her interest in Japanese Zen Buddhism, poetry, nature, and the foggy seascapes of her home in Sandy Cove"  says Janet Larkman, artist and curator of that exhibition.
"Her works appear simple, as if little is 'happening'. Yet when one gets still enough to be really present with them, there is an almost ominous quality, the content being so big it can never be fully known. "
I've kept these photos of Carol Mahtab's sketches for three years, and post them here so that they are easier for me to find.  (Perhaps you will like to see them as well.)

See more work by Carol Mahtab at this link.
"Because she was modest and never self-promoted, her work is not widely known.  Fortunately, she left behind a vast inventory of paintings created over her 60-year career.   Janet Larkman

Saturday, May 26, 2018

I was here

I really don't know what I want to say about these two new pieces.
It took most of the morning to put them in the shadow-box frames
and then package them up in cardboard to ship.
love meditation: moon and time
One of them is a donation to a fund raising auction for the Thunder Bay art gallery.
The other, a gift.
like all my work, these are personal communications
they are about

who I am
where I live
what I love
they also show how
important time and labour are to me

as both these aesthetics are evident
 watercolour on paper
hand work shows my humanity
the marks are tenuous, wavering,
they demonstrate vulnerability
indigo dye, stitch resist, with hand stitch added 
both these pieces are examples of determination
of will
of a need to complete the task at hand to my best ability

they are both careful work
It  took me a week to
complete this watercolour study of a quilt that I would like to make
some day
Agnes Martin came to mind
I keep writing these blog posts about my work.
It seems important to say it.

I was here.

Monday, May 21, 2018


I'm obsessed with the stitching I'm doing these days.
I fall into it.
I need to hold myself back from doing it all day.
Diagonal marks with wool thread,
alternating straight lines with curved,
I consciously attempt to make an eye bending experience.
I want to reach
a place of texture
that is untethered to conscious thought
like a dream is

like when you close your eyes
and retreat into your own body
and slow way down
"I want to get to non art.
non geometreic, non anthromorphic, non-notthing.
Another kind.  Another vision.  Another sort.
From a totally other reference point.  Is it possible?"
Eva Hesse
this stitching has driven me further into solitude
I feel guided by something ...

its out of my hands
The piece I'm working on is the second daily practice.  The other two are shown above (their backs)
(see here for story)  (also here )
I'm also reading old journals again

and then wrapping them gently with wool cloth, stitching them shut
I read today that:
are what makes Canadian art what it is.
"Something in me loves works of art that have within them the sense that they have only just survived their making.  In the end, you shouldn't know what is fiction and what is not. " Robert Frank

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Itchiku Kubuta : Symphony of Light

chou / the first blush of winter (detail) by Itchiku Kubuta 
I went to see the Itchiku Kubota exhibition at the textile museum last weekend, not prepared for the awe I was to experience.
Symphony of Light: Seasons by Itchiku Kubuta
Ryou/Certitude 1986,  Kuo / Change 1986 and Hin / Nostalgia 1987
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
Itchiku Kubuta (1917 - 2003) apprenticed with a dyer who specialised in hand painting and resist dyeing when he was 14 years old and established his own studio 5 years later (age 19).  The following year, while visiting a museum, he saw a fragment of Tsujigahana dyed kimono silk from the Maromachi period (16th century) that inspired him for the rest of his life.
Symphony of Light: Seasons
Hou / Late autumn melencholy 1987,  Kou / Twixt autumn and winter 1989, Ei / Unexpected Snow 1989
 and Sei / blue Trace of hope in sudden snow  1989,
tie dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
"it carried a quality that was plaintive and mysterious.  I continued to look at that small piece of fabric, as if placed under a spell, for over three hours"  Itchiku Kubata

He devoted himself to reviving this ancient dyeing method, and eventually succeeded in 1981.   
Symphony of Light by itchiku Kubuta
Chou / The  First Blush of Winter 1986 and Kan / Never Ending Snowfall
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
He wanted to create panoramic visions of the subtle but swift passage of time and nature through the seasons and decided to create 80 kimonos that would connect to each other, sleeve to sleeve as a continuous canvas.

He was 63 years old when he began.

Itchiku Kubuta completed twenty-nine kimono for autumn and winter and five for the universe before he died at 86.  An additional two for the universe were created by his assistants posthumously.
Symphony of Light: The Universe  by Itchiku Kubuta 
It's his vision that I find awesome and humbling.
He started his larger than life project with no hesitation about his own if he truly felt that he had all the time in the world. 

His canvas references the human form in the kimono shapes, connecting to each other, arm to arm.

Each is made one at a time over a lengthy period of time....going through multiple laborious steps.

It is grand.  They are sublime.

There is a museum in Japan devoted to this man.

The website shows the Symphony of Light kimonos in a continuous line.  click here.
Mount Fuji Against Golden Layers of Clouds  2000 by Itchiku Kubuta
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
Kubota also created individual kimono.
Three of his Mount Fuji kimonos were on display.
detail of Ohn by Itchiku Kubuta
Frank Stella said:
"I don't like to say I have given my life to art.
 I prefer to say that art has given me my life"

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Love Yourself

 you don't have to try so hard
 you just have to be yourself
that's enough
you're enough

(Scott Stabile)

A love meditation.   Showing at the Perivale gallery on Manitoulin Island this season
(opens May 20)
Click here  to see some of the others