fibre Quarterly  volume 2 issue 2 spring 2006


around town...

  unedited and updated often and not a Blog


Blogging around town this winter in the cold  

There was a time when winter meant staying in and piecing together your quilt tops, weaving, repairing your clothes, darning socks, writing in your journal. In this modern world, we blog.  “In an age increasingly dominated by digital and virtual technologies, it is interesting to note that some of the world’s most ancient and enduring technologies – weaving, spinning, knitting, sewing and braiding- associated with hand labour and tangible physical product, should figure so prominently in contemporary art practice”[1]

Take the Guttenberg printing press, the jacquard loom, Bill Gates and a bunch of other “nerds” and somehow we are in yet another new world. The desire to tell stories, to share information, to form communities has been happening since humanity first noticed its own kind. At the turn of the ninetieth century the telephone was to be the death of the written communication, in the late twentieth century the computer was going to save trees and the internet make books and magazines obsolete. Time teaches us that old and new technologies blend and whether better or just different they impede our ability to communicate briefly. As new technologies have added to the tools with which we can manipulate fibre, mark cloth, and create art they also allow us to show it faster and share the image of it to a larger community of like minded interested parties. Or at least that is the concept.  

Over the last little while I have been trying to locate artist and exhibitions and present preview information and/or mini reviews of them in a chatty casual format that some have referred to as my “Blog”. Given that I can’t be every where all the time and submissions have been few and far between I began to realize that Blogging might be an alternative to combine with submitted reviews.  

If you are not familiar with the new sport or shall I call it a pass time of Blogging here are a few examples to show the variety of approaches.

Knitting; Stephanie Pearl McPfee: The Yarn Harlot.

Denny McMillan: the Gandolf of knitting   

Quilting: Judith Martin Judy’s Journal, Valerie Hearder Horizons  

The Quilt of Belonging: Invitation Project  not there at the moment (may 4/06)

Fashion: if you are interested in “the History of women’s sizing” or where to locate vintage vogue patterns among other things this is an interesting blog billed as “Lessons from the sustainable factory floor” and it has certain intelligence.  

I won’t really go into that. A blog is a Blog is a Blog, not necessarily that interesting on their own but as a phenomenon… you be the judge. If history is no longer allowed to pass by unnoticed and the private is now public do bloggers have a chance at celebrity on the WWW and is that a new way of approaching the latest lifestyle “Job” choice.

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[1] Ingrid Bachmann and Ruth Scheuing: Introduction, Material Matters: The Art and Culture of Contemporary Textiles ©1998 YYZ Books, Toronto Ontario 


Meanwhile…April 2/06 around town  

The Toronto Convention Centre One of a Kind Show, not as crowded as the Christmas show there were still many things to see and artisans to annoy, I mean buy from. This show after all is the biggest show of its kind in the country. The over all quality usual was mixed and the showing of Textile and Fibre work though small was good. You might think me biased and I am, but skill, dedication and passion show. The artist seemed to be from points east of Toronto, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec. Each with a different approach and length of career most were new to the show and by the time I spoke with them in the middle of the last day where expressing the same complaints as the show veterans I know. “Not enough sales to cover cost” hopefully they will also experience the after effects which keep the veterans returning season after season. Good contacts with other artisans and the development of a network of outlets for their products.

 To completely change the topic for a minute. I have noticed a plethora of scarves and pillows out there, all artisan made all seemingly the source of income from which artist are intending to draw upon to support our art out put or at least supplement our income. I would be interest to here other peoples take on this. With the time involved in production, cost of supplies and equipment, then the paper work and taxes, can the price of the object ever be justified in the minds or both the artist and the consumer. Why do you do it?

Back to the One of a Kind Show: New Brunswick Collage of Craft and Design brought a showcase of the work being produced by students. With diplomas in Textiles, Fashion and Surface Design there is plenty of room for traditional to experimental work. Athena Designs by Ashley Watson stood out in mind simply because she was the whole package, wove the cloth and made the clothes and then there was the red dress by Sara Murray was everything Audrey Hepburn would have wanted for a party dress in the 1950ies, it was spectacular.

Italian born and trained Graziella Malagoni a silk painter of extraordinary vision was showing large wall pieces along with scarves. Go to her website and all will be revealed  Her work is brightly coloured with fantastical imagery of mythical origins. She is based in Montreal. Another artist from Montréal was in the new artisan sections were the space allotted was embarrassingly small (calling it a stall would be over stating it, a cat cage is larger) unless you were architecturally inclined and vertical in aspiration as one miniature toy maker was. The bottom-line of the corporate management of the One of a Kind show becomes move obvious as years go by.

H. Création Textiles was a stand showing Josée Hamelin jacquard tapestry pillows, black and white images with colour over stitching. Unable to be shown to there best advantage in either installation or format (pillow cases) these jacquard tapestries had a lovely antique appearance with old photographs of people or botanical drawings processed through the Pointcarré software and hand woven at the Centre for Contemporary Textiles in Montreal. As pillows or wall pieces they would fit into both traditional and contemporary décor and would add to anyone’s collection.

Down another alley with a corner spot was Hillary Webb a natural dyer, felter and embroiderer. Her small multi-layered over stitched reverse appliqués had an organic sensibility reminiscent of Betty Goodwin’s found Tarp paintings and Mylar work which owe more to textile then painting traditions. Webb’s muted colour pallet and erratic to controlled stitches present a dense surface to explore and read like old maps in a state of decay and ruin. They are beautiful rather then pretty and though young/ emerging she has a firm grasps of the techniques she is using.

The lack of “Fibre Art” was depressing, even the number of Screen Printers and other Surface designers amongst the Fashion and Interior Design accessories was low but outstanding in that category was a funky group of “gen nexters” was a company that is best explained by their website  Ogglie is what it says and brash if not delightfully silly tongue in cheek lifestyle is what they are about and if you are looking for the perfect felt purse stop and click now.

May 2, 2006. Budget Day. Did you wake up feeling lucky? Remember the “Childcare” promise? Do the math after taxes and averaging basic paid child care needs the Harper Government got elected on a promise to provide working families .008$ per hour towards childcare if your lucky. So much for Arts funding, a very high priority no doubt. That said it is only 8:30 in the morning and after another cup of coffee the world will still be the same.  

How odd, I just can’t do the Blog thing yet. 

And now something about Knitters and “gen- nexters” I was down at the distillery (District) aka condo construction last week and was in the chic and cheerful shop, Distill  and on the counter was a jar full of knitted cozies for Ipods and other children size computerized accessories, Cell Phone, Blackberries etc. Etc. Etc.  “From your children you are taught” to quote Rodgers and Hammerstein.

 David Kaye Gallery opened at the beginning of April, Located on Dovercourt just north of Queen St. West in Toronto’s latest “Art and Design District” (if you don’t know yet “District” means Condo Construction zone and I can’t say it enough, take a look around your town, no houses or apartment buildings just Condos aka empty air if you where “first on the list” and you’ve already bought one.) It is behind the Starbucks (ethically insecure coffee accessories. Why does every thing have accessories?)  Formerly the Joshua Burstyn Gallery and for you Toronto History buffs the POP Shoppe. David Kaye’s Inaugural Exhibition featured many familiar names: Ann Barros, Dorothy Caldwell, Kia Chan, Susan Collett, Edda Dolcetti, Marc Egan, Lynne Mcllvride Evans, Mimi Gellman, Steven Heinemann, Harlan House, Donna Irvine, Vivienne Jones, Leslie D. H. Kaye, Susan Warner Keene, David McClyment, Van McKenzie, Ken Nicol, Tery Pellettier, Peter Pierobon, David Reynolds, Jim Thomson, Wendy Walgate, Lily Yung. I am looking forward to see this gallery flourish and with the pedigree of both the owner and artist, fibre and textile work will be well represented in the “District” (Interior Designers take note please)


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fibre Quarterly  volume 2 issue 2 spring 2006