Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ACAD Grad show in brief and in half.

I went up to ACAD this morning and spent a good 3 hours pottering around the assorted rooms and gallery spaces experiencing the best the students had to offer.  And although it has been described as "The good, the bad and the ugly,"  I felt very good about what I was seeing and was sufficiently encouraged to keep on searching out more and more rooms to delve into, and I left ACAD hoping that one or both of my children will want to go and see the show tomorrow, so that I can take in even more.
Unfortunately the steward in the first gallery space told me that photography was only allowed if you are 'family'... although I believe we are all related, I don't think that was quite what she had in mind, so I have only my mental pictures to hold on to.  However, to keep the blog from looking completely dull, I have inserted images from the web of related works wherever possible... I hope none are copywritten and I will happily remove them if asked to do so.
But sorry that I couldn't illustrate the actual pieces in the show.

One significant point that occurred to me was that students graduating from the painting course had sometimes exhibited pieces in fibre.  I found this quite heart-warming.  One such piece that was stunning piece by Randy Niessen a mixed media (untitled) work with lines of taught fibres radiating from a focus on the floor, to 3 metres up the walls, where painted grid lines in the same colours of  purple, white, lilac, yellow and blue intersected and formed a mesmerising interference pattern which toyed with ones sense of perspective and dimensionality .
In the same room Cassandra Pauls piece of tumbling blocks... (Image on right from TRUCK Gallery website) acrylic on wood suggested the work of an artist recently exhbited in the Epcor gallery.
 and below with Nate Mcleod and Cassandra together... this piece really grabbed my attention in the TRUCK'S plus fifteen window space. Ah, so I was right!
Img-4.jpgSimilarly The Mould Family Portraits ( that remind me so much of Maurice Sendak's artworks for Where the Wild Things Are ....)  being the work of Mynthia McDaniel might also have recently shown in Epcor. (see below from ACAD website). Good for ACAD to have its students actively seek local exhibition space.

Anne Fetterley (of Contextural)  had prime position in the entire show,  in the main gallery space.  Her work was shown off to full effect in the central space.  The four panels hanging in arcs to a lower surface strewn with onion skins.  I had seen the piece, Onion Skin Project, at the Contextural meeting both whilst 'under construction' and images of the show (two days ago)... but it was lovely to see it in place and set off by its juxtaposition with  the complimentary piece by Janis Milligan:  huge rust dyed panels on two facing walls.  Lovely pieces, fantastic curation.

There were so many pieces that caught my eye.   Robyn Weatherly had used video installation and photography to show off his blown glassware.Viviane Mehr a student on the painters' course worked coloured shapes on overlapping transparent ?plastic squares, the layers are held together at the top edge by a single straight line of machine ?chain stitch... A series of 6 pieces had the look of devored fabrics and were beautifully presented..
David Blankenstyn had taken green glass bottles and recycled them adding facial features as well as hair, cigarettes and so on so that each had its own character... An amusing piece called Collect Yourself, perhaps a nod to recycling.
 This piece by David was at Triangle gallery in December last year.

To finish I will note a lovely textile piece created by Judy Dibus, yet another painting student who worked in fibre - seemed to be a whimsical piece a colourful assault on the visual... Growth Chart is a 3D bar graph of growth with the bars, or rods constructed of wrapped cuddly toys bound together into their pillars of ascending height by thread.  This piece was cited in the central mall to give it plenty of space.  Wonderful.

My favourite piece of the whole show was a hand made paper sculptural effigy (and I say no more as I, sadly didn't record the name of the artist... perhaps I will get that tomorrow).  And second most favourite was Sarah Burchell's piece that was reminiscent of  Andy Goldsworthy's rabbit blood pieces, but Sarah used Logwood, soy milk, citric acid and iron to produce an amazingly rich palette that gave the 2D piece a deep 3D feel with intense brown and deep deep blue black colours.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I designate myself a full-time mixed media artist

I am going to apply to the Alberta Craft Council... I have to tick a box for Full time, Part time, hobbyist... etc.... I am taking it very seriously and will tick full time.  Before now I have used the words 'full time' in the following context, "It is like I have a full time job, so I can't come round for coffee..."  Even so I do allow too many distractions in my working week.  Mainly because I don't want to go so pale, through lack of sunlight, that you can see the blueness of my internal organs and I don't want to forget how to hold an adult conversation through isolation.  But there are other ways to be with people that are more directly related to my work and I am going to allocate time to these instead.
I have periods of reflection when I am away from home, on annual leave (I am an expat.). The result is usually the formulation of a wish list, new action plan and setting of goals and then I return home and put the plans into action.  Weirdly though, I am doing this now, before the summer holidays.  And it feels good.

Upside down and round about

Kreative Momentum (4) workshop today was about Cable Stitch, which for those of you who are not British, or not familiar with using the sewing machine for strange activities, means bobbin work where one uses a thicker than normal thread in the machine's bobbin.  It takes some adjustments to the sewing machine and you work upside down, but most machines will stitch a fair Cable stitch - without the blood rushing to ones cheeks.

We had 6 machines in the room and worked from basic machine code! to beginners' Cable.  Amazingly the poor suffering students liked it and want more... I would teach every day if I could....  but I think they still want one class a month.  We all have busy lives.
Anyone interested in dye and progressive stitch workshops do email me.
No photos of this class - but I hope to get some shots of their work up soon.
Plan for tomorrow ACAD Grad show and bookshop - a spoil-myself day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Contextural Meeting

Last night was critique night.  I was in two minds - do I go do I stay?  Do I take or do I leave.  Hmmm.  I decided on go and take.

The funny thing was that Arlee wasn't with me.  I swear we would have had wet patches somewhere after my struggle to find the venue.   I used Madame Gee-Pee Ess (she the electronic visionary of all things  road).... I can't remember what her original name was ... but she has helped me many a time in Calgary, this gridded city of Cookie Cutter Avenue, Ridge, Road, Street, Boulevard, Crescent.... the list is mind-numbingly dull...

But last night she did her worst.  The thing was that I was trying to find %%%* 10th Street SW which the machine and Google Maps told me was South of the River and on 10th St between 6th and 7th Avenue.  All good and conforming to what my expat-in-new-location, settling-in process, had taught me, down to which side of the street it was on.
*I keep the actual number hidden so as to protect its owner's identity.
I spent 3/4 hour walking up and down trying to find the right tower block.  Panic was setting in. I rang Contextural for clarification only no-one was taking calls;  till much later.  Meantime I asked Calgarians who weren't as well up on street layout as me - the expat, to no avail.  All the time Mdm G.P.S. is yelling at me that I am approaching the desired location... how wrong she was.  But how clever too***  for she must have know something that, as yet, I did not.
So eventually I decided that the organisers must have meant NW not SW.  So off I go with Madame Gee Pee Ess helping out - to %%% 10th Street NW... which does exist but isn't a tower block.  I decided that I had seen enough of Kensington and asked G.P. to take me home.  That's when Contextural rang to say ***there was a typo on the invite and I had been searching for the wrong address by a factor of 80.  By now I must have been nearly an hour late.  But, encouraged, I pushed back to 10th Street SW.  Why? Because I have determination in my nature... I located the tower block and after moving up several levels, and I don't mean of the tower block, I mean of the computer game, that I now felt I was part of... I arrived at the meeting.  With hindsight it was well worth the effort.
We saw photos from the ACAD grad show, Actual pieces from the show, wonderful work ready for development at the ACAD summer residence and a lovely piece worked from banner material.... I can't say more as I don't know how widely the artists want me to publicise their work.
Me I took two worms that aren't terribly novel.  Novel as worms, not novel as scarves, except one does have spikes on and wouldn't 'work' as a scarf.  The exciting thing about them does make people "oooooh and aaaaaah" (too much Les Mis. recently).  But more on that another day.  Sufice it to say that the worms were welcomed and they intrigued no one more that our hostess's delicous cat, who couldn't seem to get enough of them.
Members of Contextural were extremely encouraging of what I want to do during the Residency and so I will push on.  Also I must go and see the ACAD show and look in at the bookshop which sounds like an Aladdins cave of supplies.  Why have I never visit it?  Could it be that I had the wrong address.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No time for grammar

Two weeks to ACAD.
One room a day. Garden. Freezer food.
Visitors. 75 in-tray.
Lots to do. 6 weeks then summer.
No verbs.

(No Haiku)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Plus Charcoal

Having dried the shirts, I creased them and rubbed over a little soft charcoal, from the living room fireplace.  Although the art shop staff thought it wouldn't work, I then sprayed on a liberal amount of charcoal/chalk fixative just in the area where the charcoal had been applied.  This caused a bit of stiffening of the fabric in that area, but I think it was worth it.
for extra creasing I sprayed water over them to dampen them and scruffed them into a plastic bag overnight to set the creases.  Et Voila.
I handed the shirts over to the costume director today and she seemed pleased.  Personally I am thrilled at the outcome as I like to think of the students/actors wearing these shirts and sniffing in coffee!  I just hope they get the message not to wash them and to store them scrunched up in a plaggy bag... as if we could expect anything else from these 16-18 year olds.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Two Four Six Oh! One

Dan's school - Central Memorial High School, Calgary, is performing Les Miserables for it's final production in a few days. See the the write up in The Calgary Herald for details.  Dan is doing Lead Spot so will not have to wear a smelly (smells of coffee), dirty-looking, worn out shirt that I have been tasked with creating for the Prisoners in the opening scene.
Here is my recipe so far... I am taking the sample one to the wardrobe department head - Sheila- this morning for an OK. Yesterday she said that she couldn't leave the job with other Mums but she knows she can trust me.

I have just taken the trial shirt from the drier.  Here is the recipe I used to distress a shirt:-
1) cut off collar and cuffs and straighten curved edge to shirts.
2) attack shirt with lemon zest side of cheese grater (After one hour of this I had zested knuckles so gave up with that).
3) dye using what I could get from Fabricland.... all purpose Dylon nice colours - desert sand and pale grey... treat in pan, acid space-dye way.
4) Rinse and dry in drier.
5) dampen well and sit in washing up bowl.
6) mix cold water dye with salt and washing soda as colour and strong (decaffeinated! for no other reason than that's what I have in right now)  coffee (to take the edge off the blackness - I guessed).
7) scrunch up shirt in washing up bowl to form creases, pour on cold water dye in alternating colours.... to not cover shirt in new colour, but to give different areas of colour and emphasise creases and crumpled-ness of the shirt.
8) Leave for 1 hour.
9) spread out shirt on plastic surface, but still encourage colour to concentrate in creases and leave overnight (even I have to sleep).
10) Still wet in morning, so stick in drier.
11) Add marks with charcoal (from my living-room fireplace!)  perhaps stabilise these marks with a charcoal fixative (I have to try this yet).

I have to admit to being about to give up as I cradled my Lemon Zester peeled knuckles, carefully mopped spilt dye powder from around the studio and learnt from my daughter that she is sneezing blue mucus, after the dye spill, - she was off school with a cold yesterday.
Oh but the shirt looks nice now.
Only 8 more to do, at one a day they will be ready  well-after dress rehearsal!  Here comes Victoria Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hermit Crab - Felted/Shibori

After attending a workshop with  Tracey Kuffner at the Waldorf School in Calgary - see earlier blog entry
I produced this...

I have seen similar work - Irene van Vugt's piece 'Peluca(2007) shown in the 211 , 2010 issue of Textile Plus is a head piece but is not made in the same way.  And various artists are making felted vessels using a mould to build around.  Cindy Obuck's work 'Hyacinth' is a lovely example of this, and she is a local artist.  However, I haven't as yet, found any examples of shibori used in this way to make vessels, let me know if you know of any.....  I hope to develop this idea further for my worms... to build a "Worms of the Night series", if you will!!!
It is a shame I am not here for the workshop by Montreal Artist Marjolein Dallinga in Red Deer this summer as I am sure she has pushed the boundaries of felting further than most.
I can't wait to take this creature to the next Contextural meeting to discus it with the group.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A better apprectiation of Shibori.

I have been making shibori for years and yet only now do I truly start to break the boundaries and develop shibori with what I perceive as originality.
These pieces are silk organza with acid dye and the tied method of Kikaigumo (tool aided spiderweb) Shibori.
Yet another sample but this one in tube form and I will work with this idea on my next worm.
Maybe you think this is same old, same old... but it isn't and you will see why not if you keep tuned in!    or should I say logged on.

Doodle update May

If I were to add up all the minutes I spend 'waiting' I am sure I would be ready to change my lifestyle. However, as I do, currently, use waiting minutes to (amongst other things) doodle, I feel it is time well-wasted as the saying goes.
Adrian once told me to not distress myself over the amount of time I spent queueing at Albert Heijn (supermarket), I was living in The Netherlands at the time, but to use the time to think about things.  I am sure he spends his time solving complex mathematics theorem... but I would spend it doodling if that were practical.
Here are three of the recent ones.
Translate this to stitch, I must.*

*Having just read "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester, I feel qualified to play with English, it has had such a long and evolutionary past - and if language can evolve then I am part of the ecology.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Karin attends a Quilt show

Visiting quilts shows is something I wouldn't normally do but hey, beggars can't be choosers.  Living here in relative isolation from the world of progressive stitch (I mean I get my fix of contemporary stitch viewing from off the World Wide Web, normally) I try to soak in all I can from the textile world around me.  This mostly involves scratching around for like-minded folks and attending anything and everything I can (other committments allowing) where fabric thread and alternative resources are used in any form of textile art.
Quilt Canada 2020 
This piece by Donna Clement gives a representation of the period of immigration in Canada when it was thought that there were too many folks coming in from The States and Canada was losing its diversely multicultural identity (reminds one of some people's attitudes today) and so advertisments were taken out in Europe to attract immigrants from there who could come to Canada for only $1.  The little squares represent the different countries people came from.  for more of Donna's work go to.
So the annual Canadian Quilt show - which was located, this year, in the TELUS Convention centre in downtown Calgary got my devoted attention for two days.
I searched through the list of courses and found one that might have offered something to add to my skill base.  Wrinkles and Bubbles tutor - Bonnie Voice.  
This is a work by Bonnie that she is particularly proud of.
This course proved to be a pleasant enough day with fellow stitchers but I learnt very little new... and what I did learn was hardly staggering....1) Use STRETCH interfacing to stabilise textured pieces of fabric. 2) .... erm struggling already... well, I hadn't actually used stretchy thread in my work before... and had little success with it during the course, owing to distractions and socializing!  3).........erm  erm  ....   so I don't think I need workshops any longer... I need Masterclasses. (OK OK big head!)
My output from a day's work.  There were many demonstrations and a quick fly through the various techniques ourselves... the piece middle at right is the most exciting... what I do with plastic in a grid - done with fabric... this certainly has potential.
Bonnie is a lovely teacher who is most generous with her ideas and happy for us to pass them along, so I will introduce this 'texturing fabrics' theme to my Kreative Momentum class.
Well, the most useful thing to come out of the workshop was advice from the volunteer, teaching assistant (Carry Anne) namely, that I ought to meet Anna Herget (who I had corresponded with 18 months previously).  Which I dutifully did and it was a wonderfully motivating meeting.
As to the main body of work at the quilt show.... A lot of it was dismiss-able (Please note the qualifier) by a viewer wishing to view new ideas in dynamic, contemporary, innovative art but when I discovered the works of Articulation and later FAN and SAQA groups I was taken to more diverse and exciting ideas.  I took advantage of the volunteers and members around there (there were many) and enjoyed the pieces very much. 
There is clearly a history to the various groups here in Calgary and it is interesting for me as an outside observer to pick up on the vibes.  However it is also depressing for me as a - want to have like-minded arty friends person - to find hurdles that I consider totally unnecessary and detrimental to all of our developments... 

Articulation is a (currently) closed group of City and Guilds (part 1) graduates, two of whom are now completing their degrees at the Julia Caprara school in London... presumably by correspondence...  I don't approve of exclusivity, yet I do understand that some groups can get too large and unwieldy.  I would be only too happy though if they could open their doors, there being so little opportunity to develop professionally locally.  I wondered also if I could offer workshops in techniques for them too... it is a give and take type of sharing we all benefit from.
The piece above is by Lesley Turner... See  her website for details.
Lesley Turner took plenty of time to show us around the entire displays and this was pure pleasure.  Images on her blog show the artists too.  Photography at the show was clearly signed as "Personal Use Only" and I was happy with that, but Lesley gave me permission to use the images here... and I direct you to their website for more information.
Above, a knitted piece that discusses the life and death of the trees.  Lesley Turner.
People looking around the displays at Articularion (and FAN) were clearly excited by them and I concur.  Some of the work had heavy echoes of Julia Caprara style and methods... who could help but be influenced by such a wonderful teacher.  Many pieces were excellent in design and completion.  The work of Vicky Newington was well represented and illustrated her talents as painterly artist and stitcher.  I love the way she incorporates embellisher work rather more subtly than is often the case by other artists.  Her lines were clear and the pieces uncluttered.
The works were a mixed bag from wholly abstract to more representational

 and Lesley discussed at length connections to the themes of architecture, natural history, conservation and so on.
Here is a piece by Leann Clifford
And Donna Clement

I moved on from there to see GeoPhysical exhibition by FAN.  Photography here was only allowed for personal use.  The work was stunning and I truly believe that in this Oil City of Calgary this exhibition should be shown, if not housed in its entirety, in one of the large oil company offices downtown.  The work of Kristin Rohr, Margie Davidson and Jenny Perry (to name a few artists whose work resonated with me and my geological background and current interests)  should be viewed.
Do check out Arlee's blog she has more photos from the GeoPhysical exhibition  and excellent notes.
The quilts of the show, that is, the juried pieces, I felt had been selected with the views of the majority of Guild members in mind.  It would be difficult for the judges of this organisation to step out of the box  and perhaps because of this some pieces that were submitted to the show were sadly absent from it.  (I know this situation develops in many textile art forums.  And remember only too well the discussions at Art of the Stitch in London many years ago.  (Could it be that the Canadian fibre art scene is at this turning point now?).  However, it was so good that the quilts and other works by Articulation and FAN and SAQA which might be deemed to be rather edgy, were shown and given so much space, that is a good sign.

A stunning piece by..... My Mother Always Wanted me to go to Japan - a Kimono of Japanese silks was absolutely fantastic.  It incorporated some fine shibori which I drank in!!!  I will try to get permission to upload an image.

The main thing about having been at the course and the show is how it has given my (already) creative self a boost and ideas are popping into my head unbidden- they aren't based on anything in particular that happened at the show, but clearly something was awakened.  And I am very excited by the development.  Thank you Canadian Quilters Association.