Katherine Dickerson/West Coast Tree Stump  



West Coast Tree Stump;Technique: Weaving. twining, knotting and rya, Material: Jute, hop sacking, hemp and natural hand spun brown wool, Size: Height 8 ft. diameter 6 ft 


Born in Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.A. 1947 Resides in Sooke, British Columbia Studied fine Arts at Denison University. Granville, Ohio; the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota. U.S.A. Studied weaving at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine; the Craft Students’ League, New York City; the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. Member at the Fine Arts Faculty, Pacific North West Coast Institute of the Arts. Victoria, British Columbia, Participated in group exhibitions in Chicago. New York City. Los Angeles, U S, and Vancouver and Toronto, One-man exhibitions in Duluth and Victoria, Awards include Evanston, Illinois, Art Show -first prize, weaving (1970); Canadian Guild of Crafts, Canadian National Exhibition (1972) - best weaving; Canadian Guild of Handweavers Inkle loom weaving (1973).


West Coast Tree Stump

The land; humid climate...lush vegetation...rough, rugged coast - a new land

The people; Indians, settlers, loggers. Continuous stream of new immigrants. The fibres; raw wool from sheep farms down the road...jute and hemp —fibres from stalks of plan for the trunk of a plant...at the foot unravelled remnants of hop sacks for the dead forest undergrowth.

The technique; twining from blankets and baskets of Salish Indians...four-foot Salish spindle for spinning...weaving from early settlers rya and knotting from the new immigrants...and sculptural forms from the present.

The west coast, developed by man and timber. Giant frees cut slowly by hand with crosscut saw...notches hewn into the trunk holding springboards supporting men cutting high above the gnarled base.

Mother Earth; home...provider...roots. The beginnings of the majestic cedar still stand...remnants of the past building the future.

Exploration of tension and stresses of materials in the weaving, a new reality of fibres through texture and form. What does old bark of the cedar look and feel like? What patterns are formed from fire charring parts of the stump?

Look...feel...think...become...then weave a representation of the west coast of British Columbia.  

the above information is taken from the Textiles into 3-D broadsheet Poster used to promote the original exhibition 



Katharine Dickerson was born in Duluth Minnesota in 1947.  She became a Canadian citizen in 1977.  Her Norwegian heritage, on her mother's side, has become increasingly important in forming her aesthetic values.  The time she has shared with the Salish, Maori and Aborigines, learning their textile practices, has firmly established the necessity of passing down Textile traditions in an oral manner.  It is the stories that really count and give context to the technical processes.

Katharine Dickerson has over 40 years of weaving experience.  She also has years of experience working in other Textile processes such as spinning, knitting, garment design and construction, quilting, natural dyeing of fibres as well as various methods of cloth dyeing.  She retired from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2007 after 30 years of teaching.  In 2009 she was named "Lecturer Emeritus" by the Board of Governors of the Alberta College of Art + Design.  Katharine's education was in both fine arts and weaving.  She believes that when both technical skills and creative inspiration are balance the resulting Textile establishes a unique place in building the future Textile tradition.

Valhalla Textile Center is the culmination of over 30 years of planning and learning.  She views the building and its contents as a physical laboratory for teaching craft aesthetics through the personal experience and interaction of the participants.  Much of craft aesthetics is based on experience through all the senses and within the context of direct interaction through use. She believes that experiencing the environment of Valhalla Textile Center brings about a far more meaningful learning experience than just gaining information through books or lectures.  

read the story about the Valhalla Textile Centre  in this issue.


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On Helen Duffy  

As to Helen and the Textiles into 3-D show, it would be an understatement to say that it was a major turning point in my career as a Textile Artist.  Up to that time I had been weaving to support myself and family.  Most of my work was more commercial in nature and smaller in scale.  But I had ideas that I wanted to realise.  Helen came to visit and encouraged me to talk about these ideas and was very supportive.  On top of that the honorarium that was given for the show was generous enough to be able to buy the materials I needed to do a piece of that scale.  Even better, they gave a payment prior to the show which really directly supported the purchase of materials and the doing of a larger more experimental work.

The addition of Textile 3-D to the World Craft Conference in Toronto in 1974 was very important.  I attended the conference and was able to speak with people about my Tree Stump.  The influences of those contacts lasted for years.

Helen had a way of drawing out the best in people.  She really knew how to listen and would then ask provocative questions that challenged the direction of the conversation.  She also knew a tremendous amount about what was happening in Textile, Especially in Europe.  I had just moved from New York to Chicago and then to the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  It was a joy to be able to talk to someone who knew of the same work and people that I knew of.  At that time the weaving on Vancouver Island was quite traditional and I was missing stimuli.  It was a joy working with her and it enriched my life greatly.  It means a great deal that you are undertaking this project as a memorial to her.  I do not think she got the recognition that she deserved during her life.