Monday, September 19, 2022

road trip back

The photos tell a story

of the beautiful northern Ontario drive

we made last week
to north western Ontario

via the north shore of Lake Superior
with all the rock cuts.

I don't have many photos of the actual destination.  

I didn't think to take photos of the empty fields

behind Burris and Devlin and LaVallee.

We went over to Morson

from Rainy River, past Blackhawk.

Exotic names for the tiny places where people live.  

I didn't think to photograph them. 

Those towns that we drove through or stopped at for soup on the way there and 

also when we were up  there in my home corner of North Western Ontario. 

The Fort Frances area, I tell people.

Besides places named poetically; Terrace Bay, Ignace, Schreiber, Upsala, Emo,

Grassy Narrows, Sleeman, Finland, Nestor Falls, Barwick

there were so many fields and forests that have no name.

That we drove by.  And I did not photograph.

Also, I didn't take enough photos of my children.

They flew to Winnipeg and rented a car to join us.

I do have photos of my brother and I standing in front of 

the trees that my mother planted.

Now giants.

I didn't photograph Ned fixing the gravesite

so that it was perfect.

How can I tell a true story

when most of the photos I have are of long views across big water and cliffs that have 

no relation to the rural pocket of Canada along the rainy river where I grew up.

We drove three full days to get there.

We were there three days.

We drove three more days to get home again.

I worked on Indigo checkerboard during the long drives.  

I stitch in the ditches and also 1/4 inch inside

vast areas of white muslin.

When my father was 22 he was hired to be the secretary of the local school board.  Three applicants interviewed for the one room school in Miscampbell and Pauline Paget age 17 was hired.  In September 1945 they had their first date, a play held at the Burris school.  Theatre continued to be important for them throughout their long marriage.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Beautiful World Where Are You

The sky was still dimming, darkening, the vast earth turning slowly on its axis.         (chapter 27) 

Outside, astronomical twilight.  Crescent moon hanging low over the dark water.  Tide returning now with a faint repeating rush over the sand.  Another place, another time.  (chapter 28)

I bought Sally Rooney's newest novel, Beautiful World Where Are You, in the airport and read it before bedtime on each of our UK nights.  I slowed down at the end, trying not to finish it.  I wanted to keep reading it forever.  

The pictured textile is the travel cloth I made in England that might be finished now, I'm not sure.  I finished the book. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Home from England

It's easy to say - trust in yourself.

It's easy to say - just do one thing that you're sure of and as you do that, you will start to know what to do next.

It's easy to say - plunge in, and then go slowly.

It's easy to say -  not to know but to go on.

Working intuitively.

I think that this kind of approach seems mysterious and a little scary, 

but it really is very much like life itself. 

we went to a family wedding in Newcastle on Tyne in the UK..  There were peeling church bells

We don't know what will happen each day.

It helps to follow routines.  It gives a sense that we do know.  

For example I always sleep on the same side of the bed.

But many things happen over the course of a day that you cannot plan for.

You just have to react.  

A typical example is a conversation.

You cannot predict what the grandson will tell you or what your old friend will ask you, but you will reply.  And it will be a good reply.

The conversation will continue.  Something worthwhile will happen.

You didn't know that this would happen.  You didn't plan for it. 

Same with my stitching. 

When I begin, I have a general idea inspired by the materials.

For the torso piece in this post, I was triggered by the faded indigo silk.  

I took the faded cloth with me to England along with a wool backing cloth and some pinkish toned threads.

I honestly did not know what would happen with it. 

I started at the edges and with couching.    

I liked how they became strong and also lively.

I drew the piece into my journal,

Then I looked at some photos of pre-history Newgrange 

and put some dots and zigzags into my journal drawing. 

The British Rail system is really good.  Ned and I spent quite a bit of time on trains moving back and forth between the north of England and the south west region of Cornwall.

Couching is one of my signature techniques.

As I was doing it, I thought about another favourite technique, the reverse applique dot.

I could reveal the white backing cloth using that technique. 

We visited the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield to see the Sheila Hick's retrospective.  

While in England I stitched when I needed to. 

In the middle of night sometimes and also on trains and planes.  

Doing one thing and then another thing

Liking something and repeating it 

Not liking something and not repeating it.  

This is the way I work.

Our elder daughter and her teen boys and our son and his wife went to the wedding too.

Sometimes 'mistakes' happen, 

and I have to cut things up or in half and start again. 

I keep going.

I don't know but I keep going. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In England

Sometimes I have no words. 

image description:  mature woman wearing running shoes and a spiral necklace stands beside a monumental piece of textile art by Sheila Hicks.  

The artwork is entitled Moroccan Prayer Rug.

It was created by Sheila Hicks in 1972 and is five and a half metres high.  It is hand knotted wool.  

Part of the retrospective exhibition at the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield, England.  

Sometimes life is amazing. 

Saturday, August 06, 2022

It's me

It's me who begins to cry or needs to lie down or put my face into the wind. 

My emotions overwhelm me.  I become weepy or cranky.

Are you alright? the kids ask

I'm fine.  It's just hard for me to put a meal on the table these days, I say to them.  

We need to eat outside because we are still distancing ourselves, but it's not the meal that does it.

Not really.

It's all the other things going on.  The travel to England for one.

The Air Canada lady says that Pearson airport is worse than we can imagine and to get there 4 hours before a flight rather than 3.

I don't want to face that airport;  Ned and I leave on Monday.

He watches me, so wobbly most of the time.  If I ask, he hugs me and says "it'll be fine". 

I played board games with the boys and lost.  There was lots of teasing.  I am a good grand mom.  

(It's not every meal.  Most of them are fine.)

I say to myself "You're fine!"  

But it's me.  It's not them.  

I read Maria Popova's newsletter.  Recently, she wrote about the writer, Iris Murdoch.

Murdoch understood that we act out a 'middle - emotion' because it is too complex, contradictory, and category-defying for us to know what we are really feeling.  Unwilling to fully live into what we are, (anxious, uncertain, tender and terrified creatures), we act ourselves into being, costumed in false certitude. 

I turn to the large soft organic cotton quilt I've nearly finished.  

It's a real thing and it is very fine.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

quilts deserve respect

I think we need to believe that we have all the time in the world.

I think our inner sense of time has no boundaries.  While living as normal people in the every day present, our inner sense of time flips around, going back to childhood and leaping ahead to future plan or worry or dream. 

This is a post about the new sleeve that I invented for my large linen damask quilt
 'underfoot the earth divine'.

I consider most of my work as having two interesting sides, an outer front side and also a beautiful second side.  

The problem is how to show both sides with elegance.

The usual way to hang quilts on the wall is to sew a sleeve on the back side, but this method covers up the top 4 inches of the second side.  I reject it.

Colour is important.  The second side of 'underfoot the earth divine' is a buttery coloured linen damask.   Dyed with natural wild golden rod blossoms, I call this second side 'overhead the sun'.

For my sleeve, I found several damask napkins that had previously been dyed with golden rod.

I assembled them into a long strip along with a layer of batting and gauze backing cloth and spent a few days quilting the strip so that it would blend with the main quilt.    

My idea was that I could extend the top edge of the quilt with this sleeve and although the function would be obvious, I hoped that  the eye would not be disturbed.   I really didn't know if it was going to work out, but I felt it was necessary to keep going.

It was necessary to take the time to do my best.

Quilts are valuable.

They deserve respect.

This particular quilt has been shortlisted for a major prize in England.

We tested the sleeve in the outdoor gallery.  

The shortlist exhibition is part of Festival of Quilts Birmingham.  

Before I shipped it from Canada for this exhibition, 
it was necessary to create a new label for the piece and sew it to the back.   
(I'll remove this label after the festival because I prefer a more unobtrusive signature) 

Underfoot The Earth Divine

In rural areas of Canada, you can see for miles across the fields.

Inspired by this vastness, I dyed ancient table linens a variety of earthy greys with natural tannins and iron and then cut the cloth into long strips.  The strips were then joined together into a large square that resembles a plowed field. 

Within the large square, a small taffeta square marked with a velvet cross and red thread sits inside a large circle. 

The holes cut into this sewn surface reveal soft earth-coloured velvet that we yearn to touch.

My work starts and ends with the inner world.  

If you live in England and are thinking of going to The Festival of Quilts to see this exhibition, The Fine Arts Textile Award shortlist, along with many many other amazing quilt shows, there is a code that you can use to get a discount on tickets.  Just type FATA 22 into the form.

Enjoy the summer my friends.  It is here.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

two things in July


At the end of June I went to Toronto so that I could stay in the famous Gladstone House in the same room as our daughter April's commissioned art.

I wrote about her art at the Gladstone on my moderinist aesthetic blog.  
 April took me to one of her favourite galleries, Cooper Cole.

We saw the Father Time exhibition by Daniel Rios Rodriguez.

There was something about his archetypal body of work that resonated with me and I couldn't put my finger on it until I read the gallery text.  "He does not separate his role of father, partner, and artist.  "a father can be an artist, a home can be a museum, a studio can be a home."      

Also on view at Cooper Cole were Laurie Kang's large film pieces in the exhibition New Document. 

The large pieces of unfixed film are suspended from the ceiling and continue to change because of exposure to light.      

I found this moving and also just plain beautiful.

left: molt (oakville, los angeles, toronto) , right molt (los angeles, toronto)
both by Laurie Kang

We visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

On display was the work of one of my favourite artists, Felix Gonzales Torres.  

His simple pieces are installed differently in every gallery they are shown.  I've seen his work before and it appears on this blog here and also here.  

Untitled (Golden) by Felix Gonzales Torres looking through it from the main part of the gallery
Untitled (Golden) by Felix Gonzales Torres looking at it from the window side

I spent two nights in Toronto. 


Underfoot The Earth Divine / Overhead the Sun has been shortlisted for the Fine Arts Textile Award which is an international honour.

I invented a way to make a sleeve that was incorporated into the artwork and will allow both sides to be viewed.  

I approached this task not knowing exactly how to do it or what I even wanted. 

It took the better part of a week.

I really don't mind spending this kind of love on my work.

It's what I do.