Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Mother The Child and Joyce Wieland

In 1988 I was part of a group exhibition in Thunder Bay Ontario at the Definitely Superior Gallery that was entitled See Jane Sew Strontium.  The gallery had invited Joyce Wieland to attend the opening and give an artist talk and also a workshop the following day.  

I lived in Kenora at the time (6 hours by winter highway from Thunder Bay) and after a lot of deliberation, decided that I couldn't justify leaving my young family to attend the events.  I can't remember the exact reason, it may have been weather.
My friend Barbara Sprague was also included in this exhibition, and she was making the trip from Kenora to Thunder Bay and I asked her to deliver a letter to Joyce Wieland for me.   The other day, I came across the draft of my letter in a 1988 journal and that prompted me to find the artwork from that exhibition and re-photograph it for this blog post. The title of the piece is The Mother The Child.  
Dear Ms Wieland

First of all, let me say that I feel very connected to you through your work.  I saw your quilt, Reason Over Passion, at the National Gallery and it made such an impression.  I remember standing in front of it in awe.  Your femaleness comes through and it is such a rich, womanly, femaleness.  There is so much about being a woman that I can feel in your work, be it quilt or painting.  And you have a wonderful wit.
Anyway, I'm very sorry that I cannot attend the workshop and meet you.  I had planned ot attending until last week.  There are a lot of reasons I guess, but the main ones are distance, winter, and the fact that I have four children, two of whom are under three years.  I know I'm not the only woman who has very little actual control of how her life is spent.   I would like to have seen the exhibition.  I've only seen Barbara's quilt.  I'd really like to know your reaction to my piece.  Please, if you do have any time that you could spare, I would very much appreciate a written note.
I've used some photos that my father took and developed.  They are of my brother, my sister and me.  There are several of me at age 15.  There are also photos of the farm where I grew up in Northwestern Ontario.  I feel that our childhood and childhood landscape are remain within us always.  I think that these things are our inner core, the 'batting' layer inside us.  The painted tree symbolizes both growth and woman's connection to nature while the self-portrait is the 'outer self''  that I present to the world today, that of the good mother.  The baby is looking outward, the mother in this drawing is hiding behind her child.  

Anyway, with this letter I feel that I've made some sort of contact with you.  I'm just sorry it's not in person.  I'll see you next time.  Sincerely, Judy Martin

Joyce Wieland answered me and I've saved the letter....but I can't remember where.  I think I should find it and frame it.  Joyce Wieland  1930 - 1998

Monday, November 09, 2020

Meryl McMaster

Dream Catcher
2015 Ink Jet Print
32 x 66 inches
Meryl McMaster 

"A lot of times in life, we are not necessarily held back, 

but our dreams, our past, and our circumstances are tethered"  

Meryl McMaster 


I've just put a post up about Canadian artist Meryl McMaster on the modernist aesthetic blog.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Long was I hugged close, long and long (Walt Whitman)

I love this time of year, the colours and the gentle light
My husband makes piles of wood around our property
I've been working on this three-blanket-wide piece in my town studio, but I brought it home last month 
It was going so slowly there.  Now I work on in the evenings during our TV time.
The piece is inspired by the grandeur of the cambrian shield and the sliced-open immense rocks that line the northern highways that we drive through.  Time is made visible in those rock cuts.  
I'm covering the three blankets with a horizontal strata of plant-dyed fabrics, stitched with wool yarns.
The work is about touch and vulnerability and eternity. 

The reverse side is also beautiful I think.

 

Time is a material.   I add my loving pokes and pets and strokes and pulls and mends.  The fabric becomes energized, powerful.

"The clock indicates the moment - but what does eternity indicate? "  Walt Whitman

Friday, October 09, 2020

my awakened heart with zoom

I think about my outdoor surroundings,(my yard), as my mother, or perhaps my teacher.  She teaches me about the importance of repetition and of lively small marks.  She teaches me about the fertility and growth of spring, the blooming of summer, the fragile beauty of autumn and the quiet silence of winter.  I also think about my yard as a lover, because it is so generous with its gifts and love, and I like to be with it so much.


I just finished pre-recording a lecture about my work for the York Heritage Quilt Guild in Toronto Ontario.  Creating a pre-recorded audio-visual was a learning experience for me.  It tooke several long days and nights of decisions about what to say and how,  and of what work to show and why.  The original plan was that I would speak about the development of my work over nearly 40 years.  However, our beautiful world is in so much pain now and has been in global crises since early 2020 that I felt an urgency to speak with authentic voice about my response to the wounds.  My creativity helped me (and healed me) over and over again during the spring and summer and continues to do so as we move towards winter.   The pictures in this post are of a small wool and velvet piece that I made during the summer and speak about during the lecture.

The first text in this post, (in italics) is quoted from the presentation. If you are a member of York Heritage this lecture is part of your program for 2020-2021.  Here is a link to read more about the talk.   and to also see the amazing line-up of speakers and teachers that this guild has for their members.   Thank you v much to Irena Hopper who invited me and also thank you v much to Deb Larsen who was my technical whiz-assistant and put the audio and visuals together.  

Sunday, September 20, 2020

quilt for baby earth

I trimmed the PK Page Planet Earth little quilt and added a pale pink linen binding.  
Handling it made me think of the last baby quilt I made - for our little Maia.

I called it "Feel Invincible Sweetheart"   (here)

This new one is the same size as a baby quilt.

I realized that it is a quilt for baby Earth.
We have to be as kind and nurturing to this planet as if she were a baby.

If Planet Earth was a real baby, we would be kind.  We would protect her, wouldn't we?

 Well she is.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

overwhelmed by everything

It's the weekend and I am resting.
 my fragile self
During this pandemic summer, I've sunk into Louise Penny's series about Armande Gamache.

While in the midst of serious internal growth, respect your need to restYung Pueblo

"You can't be three people"  Agnes Martin tells us.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

year 6

I've been working on this quilt since 2014. 
six years
it's hand pieced nine patches that measure one inch when sewn
the photos in this post were taken over the last week at the family cottage
I spent three nights alone - I loved it.
I've written a tutorial on hand piecing using the nine-patches in this quilt.
That was in 2016.  here
Projects that take a long time seduce me.
It is so comforting to go back to them and not have to think.  Just stitch.
Family visited last weekend - April had the idea to photograph her quilts floating in the water.
Aren't they great?
'But how very much of one piece is everything we encounter, how related one thing is to the next, how it gave birth to itself and grows up and is educated in its own nature, and all we basically have to do is be there, but simply, ardently, the way the earth simply is, consenting to the seasons, light and dark and altogether in space, not asking to rest upon anything other than the net of influences and forces in which the stars feel secure. "  Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, August 28, 2020

till it shines in the sun like gold leaf

So we have these fabulous gunnera plants in our garden
and sometimes I make bundles - the two above are from 2007

this post is about these things

and about PK Page's poem,  Planet Earth

It has to be loved like a laundress loves her linens

the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins

like a  lover coaxing or a mother praising

It has to be loved as if it were embroidered with flowers

and birds and two joined hearts upon it

it has to be stretched and stroked

it has to be celebrated

O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it

It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet

the trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses

they have to be polished as if made of green brass

the sheets of lake water smoothed with the hand


 smoothing the holy surfaces