Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love and Money

Love and Money
Dec 16th - 31st 2010 @ the Ontario Crafts Council
Opening reception: Thurs, Dec 16th 6-9pm

This year’s exhibition will explore the broad relationship craft and crafting has with commerce.  Craft(ing) is currently a multi-billion dollar industry.  From mainstream craft media personalities and the DIY Network to hipster how-to guides, mega craft fairs and fabric designers du jour, the commercial nature of the contemporary “crafting” movement often seems to starkly contrast the idea of crafting for necessity from days gone by.  On the other hand, there are people who turn to craft and craft processes for a sense of transcendence and autonomy.  Many would argue that there is more of a need to craft for crafts sake now than ever-- either to re-skill ourselves for an uncertain future, or simply to learn to slow down.

Are money and craft strange (or natural) bedfellows?  How does craft transcend issues of commerce?  How might one navigate or perceive the dichotomy of craft for love/craft for money? How do examples of contemporary craft and craft practices address or challenge issues of ownership, value, and exchange?

Participating Artists:Helen Benninger
Kalpna Patel
Leah Buckareff
Lizz Aston
Matt King
Meags Fitzgerald

Rachael Kess
Sandra Gregson
Stephanie Cormier
Steven Tippin
Wendy Walgate

'From Rags To Riches' - detail

My Ideas about Love & Money...

In response to the theme Love and Money I have been researching notions surrounding the saying ‘from rags to riches’. Taking cue from historical craft practices such as the art of spinning shifu (paper-thread), and the gathering of discard material to make Rag rugs or Clootie mats; I am interested in combining each of these processes as I work to re-define the values we apply to common craft materials as well as domestic craft objects.
Both shifu and rag rug-making developed as practices once born out of necessity, where coarse paper thread would be woven into cloth for work clothes and other household items, while the rags of old clothes were coveted for their reuse-ability, being knotted back together in the form of much needed objects.
‘From rags to riches’ incorporates the use of newspaper ‘rag’ and kozo papers as they are laboriously spun and crocheted into a delicate network of threads that make up the rag rug.
Through a sophisticated use of process and materials, the once ‘ragged’ and utilitarian object will be rendered precious and unusable, as emphasis is placed on re-evaluating the value of the materials and object at hand. Through my practice, I am interested in celebrating craft for love as means to continue to tap into the meaningful, intuitive and historical practices that employ the use of my hands.

Finished installation will be on display at the Ontario Crafts Council till Dec. 31st 2010

The Collective @ Triangle Gallery: 12 days of art and ideas

I recently participated in a collective show at Artscape's Triangle Gallery entitled The Collective: 12 days of Art and Ideas. This turned out to be the perfect opportunity to further develop my Hand-spun Kozo paper brooches, I have been working on over the past little while.
Each brooch is made out of a delicate network of thread that is spun from sheets of kozo paper using an old fashioned spinning wheel. The threads are then crocheted and starched into sculptural forms before being crafted into fine jewelery pieces.

I will be spending my time finding a home for these within a number of stores over the course of the next week... In the meanwhile, if you are interested in purchasing one as a gift for the holidays, send me an email at and I can make one available for you.

Hand-spun Shifu paper thread

Over the course of the past five months, I have been working hard towards researching and collecting what little information I can on the relatively unknown practice of Shifu-making.

In the Japanese language, the word shifu refers to woven paper.  Shifu can mean the fine-as-silk paper weaving that was given as tribute to regional rulers during the Edo Period or the very rustic, utilitarian cloth woven by peasants by shredding leftover ledger books and weaving this against a bast fiber warp.

Traditional shifu is spun from hand-made Japanese tissues, or strong paper made from vegetable fibres.

Japanese tissue may be made from one of three plants, the kozo plant (Paper Mulberry tree), the mitsumata shrub and the gampi tree. The long, strong fibers of the kozo produce very strong, dimensionally stable papers, and are the most commonly used fibers in the making of Japanese paper (washi). Tissue made from kozo, or kozogami comes in varying thicknesses and colors, and is an ideal paper to use in spinning fine shifu threads.

Here is a chronology of images as my samples have progressed over the past few months...

 First attempts using a drop spindle & sampling with coarse papers

Pattern drafting paper, newspaper and misc handmade fibres.

 Tengu-jo tissue & misc papers.

Sekishu Tsuru - spun using a traditional Ashford spinning wheel

Various kozo papers. 2nd ball dip dyed using Madder Root.

Skeins wound into balls.

Hard Twist: Chroma!

Hard Twist is now on in full swing for its fifth year at the Gladstone Hotel.
If you get a chance to check out this show, there are a couple of real gems on each floor to take a look at..!
Here are a couple of my favorite pieces... (didn't get a chance to take my own photos... so those I found online will have to suffice!)

Shuyu Lu


Amanda McCavour - Spiro-graphs!

Hard Twist has become an important annual event within the Canadian textile art community as well as being a signature event for the Gladstone. For this fifth anniversary of Hard Twist 5: CHROMA! exhibit will be expanded to include public spaces on all four floors of the hotel and will run for two full months. It is free to the public 12pm-5pm daily in the third and fourth floor public galleries at the Gladstone. Year five of this annual juried exhibit is all about colour. Participating artists explore colour symbolism, meaning, relationships and perceptions through textile and fibre-based mediums.
Co-curators Helena Frei and Chris Mitchell invite artists to submit textile and fibre based works, which explore the expressive qualities of colour, colour symbolism, and/or the meaning, relationships and perceptions of colour.

2010 Participants:
Amy Bagshaw, Fiona Bailey, Susan Bidinosti, Monserrat Brandan, Kerry Croghan, Dhashi Farha, Lindsay Fisher, Holly Gabel, Angela Iarocci, Say Ivison, Shuyu Lu, Alanna Lynch, Amanda McCavour, Renata Meirelles, Joyce Melander-Dayton, Melanie Schaffer, Kat Shaughnessy, Mafalda Silva, Marcy Sperry, W Collective, Sarah Waldman-Engel, Jennie Wood

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fibreworks 2010

Im really excited to see Fibreworks 2010 which will be opening this weekend at Cambridge Galleries. There is a free shuttle bus to Cambridge for the opening reception, call ahead and book your space!

Fibreworks 2010
September 11-October 31, 2010
Jurors: Catherine Heard and David H. Kaye

Canadian artists from coast to coast participate in this juried competition, now in its 13th edition. The competition honours the community's rich textile manufacturing history and provides a showcase for the extraordinary work carried out by Canadian artists working in the fibre medium. This year's jurors, Catherine Heard and David H. Kaye, have selected works that truly represent the diversity and ingenuity of these artists.

August 24-October 24, 2010
Curated by Esther E. Shipman

This exhibition features the work of established and highly regarded textile designer-entrepreneurs from across Canada, whose work bridges the worlds of art and commercial fabrication. Each of the studios in the exhibition is represented by several examples of their work, providing an opportunity for a closer look into their individual design styles, products and collections.

Joy Walker

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Toronto Outdoor 2010

This past July was my first year exhibiting at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in Nathan Phillips Square....
I really enjoyed the show. It turned out to be a crazy weekend beginning with setting up in an extreme rain storm followed by a two day intense heat wave. I was lucky to be surrounded by good neighbors as well as a number of my harbourfront friends in the adjacent booths. All in all the weekend turned out to be a good one full of some emotional highs and lows, familiar and new faces, booth tours and lots of ice cream and lemonade. Here are a couple of pics from the show...

a special visitor

my booth

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

2010 Sketchbook Tourfull of art

Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country.
After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view.
Anyone - from anywhere in the world - can be a part of the project. To participate and have us send you a sketchbook that will go on tour, start by choosing from one of the selected themes.

Participation - $25

To receive a sketchbook and participate in the project, choose a theme from the list below (or select the first option and we’ll randomly choose a theme for you!)
Each artist is sent the same blank Moleskine sketchbook. We've only got two rules: first, the book must be used in some way - no sending us back an empty book or a completely different book! Second, the sketchbook must stay within its original dimensions (because we don't want to have to provide an extra suitcase just for your book while we're touring the country).

Each book will be given a barcode so we can easily catalog it into The Brooklyn Art Library system. Once we catalog it, artists will be able to track where on the tour their book is viewed and how many times someone pulled it from the shelf - we want to make sure you can stay connected with your sketchbook!
The availability of sketchbooks vary each day, so sign up quickly to reserve the one you want! You have the option to choose the kind of Moleskine and the color of the cover when you add the project to your cart over to the right.

Multiple Coincidences

New exhibits run June 19 to Sept. 19, 2010
FREE opening reception Friday, June 18, 6-10 p.m.

Multiple Coincidences 

Inspired by dynamic symmetries and patterns found in nature, this collaboration between Lizz Aston and Johanna Schmidt explores the spontaneity of materials and processes.
Working within their respective materials of paper and porcelain, each artist examines the composition, repetition and fragility found in naturally occurring formations.

Both artists are inspired by experimenting with processes and combining the results to create groupings that read as a whole.  Paper is bunched, clay slip is drizzled, pieces are dipped, starched, broken and pieced back together – anything to take advantage of the material, or make it appear to be something else.
Sometimes working alone, sometimes building on one another’s ideas, and other times imitating each other’s forms, a dialogue is created.

Degraded muffin cup forms

Wavering paper formation

 Paper bark grouping

These are some images I took prior to installing the show in the vitrines, I will post photographs of the show installation when I get a chance... 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

David R Harper

I recently went on a field trip with my friend Shuyu to see the new Lia Cook exhibition at theTextile Museum in Toronto. The week before our museum visit, we had the good fortune of meeting with Lia, as she stopped by the studio to chat with us and give us one on one critiques before presenting her lecture at the York Quey Studio Theatre.
I found my critique with Lia to be really informative as she helped me to whittle down my ideas and the materials I had been exploring for my upcoming collaboration with Johanna.

I really enjoyed Lia's digitally woven tapestries and was impressed with the breadth of work she has created over the course of her career.
While we were at the show we also came across the installations and embroideries of artist David R. Harper who we were both previously unfamiliar with. His work really caught me off guard - to my surprise and delight... Both Shuyu and I were really awestruck by the attention to detail and the amount of handwork involved in each of his pieces... and this coming from a friend who spends hundreds of hours embroidering her own delicate little landscapes!!!

Lia Cook: Faces and Mazes at the textile museum:

Here are some images of David's work in the show:

These images do no justice to the amount of crosshatching and detail!!

Life size horse patched together out of cow hide and embroidered....

Li - dynamic forms in nature

These Past few months have been quite insane, with a number of shows back to back.... Notably, the most interesting show I have had the chance to partake in was a collaboration with my ceramics friend Johanna Schmidt
Johanna was one of my co-residents in ceramics studio at harbourfront centre. Her work is both playful and experimental, comprised of a series of multiples- each piece builds upon an unconventional approach to working with her materials. I feel a very similar sentiment to the way she approaches her work and am intruiged in the potential that lays in continuing to explore my ideas through material processes and the use of multiples...

I found a series of these books in Chicago a couple of years ago on a school trip and had to scoop them up!
The series is incredible and a great resource for any craftsperson/visual artist
This soon became the starting point that would inform the beginning of our collaboration:

David Wade has spent a lifetime gathering and organizing the extraordinary families of surface patterns that nature throws up at every scale. The study of these shapes-a subject virtually unknown in the West-was known in ancient China as Li and is the sister science to Feng Shui. In this unique and insightful book are sand and wave patterns, big-cat markings, bark and leaf designs, soap and marbling swirls, crystalline and rock forms, tree branching types, and many more of nature's dynamic, sometimes enigmatic designs. Li will appeal to scientists and artists, and has far-reaching applications in graphic design, architecture, and other visual forms and sciences.

OCC Awards and Scholarships

This year I was very fortunate to be the recipient of the Mary Robertson Textile Award through the Ontario Crafts Council. Here is some more information about the award:

Honouring the memory of Toronto weaver Mary Robertson, this scholarship was established by family to recognize excellence in the medium of textiles through assisting a person intending to pursue further education in textiles. This includes the study of textile printing, surface embellishments, weaving, basketry, and embroidery.

This means I will be posting later on about all the great courses & workshops I plan on taking. Yay.


 OCC Awards & Scholarships

Here is a link to the 2010 awards and scholarships page. The deadline to apply happens every April and you must be a student or OCC member to apply. good luck!

Currently up

You can find these three pieces currently up at David Kaye Gallery, at the corner of queen and dovercourt - behind the starbucks. David Kaye has a really lovely space and there are new and ongoing exhibitions all the time.. you should check it out if you have the chance!

Antiquated Notions 1, 2009
Paper, free motion embroidery, thread, burn-out.

Crochet? 2010
Paper, free motion embroidery, thread, burn-out.

Drop stitch, 2010
Paper, free motion embroidery, thread, burn-out.

The Artist Project pt 2

Here is a link to my page as well as a number of other artists whose work I enjoyed at the show..

Shuyu lu

The Artist Project Toronto - March 2010

Antiquated Notions Series, 2009
Paper, free motion embroidery, thread, burn-out.

Antiquated Notions Series, 2010
Paper, free motion embroidery, thread, burn-out.

Oli and Nick

Installation detail

These are a bunch of images from The Artist Project that happened last march. I met a lot of amazing people there and was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to be in the Untapped Emerging Artist section of the show, alongside my friend and studio mate Shuyu Lu.

First Post

Since this is my first ever post on a blog, I will be spending the next little while updating you on the work that i do, things that im interested in and the art that makes me swoon...