Friday, May 29, 2015

The Meditation Panels Workshop in Newfoundland this October

 Meditation Panels
This workshop introduces the archetypal symbols and shapes used around the world and across time.  These first shapes connect us without words to our spiritual need for ritual and are the inspirational basis for original and personally scaled meditation panels.  Hands on instruction in Judy’s improvisational methods of working over foundation cloth in combination with traditional hand stitched construction methods and hand embroidery will start participants on a project that will continue to nurture the maker over a period of months.
We will be guided by our sense of touch.  This is a quiet workshop, inspired by the successful Manitoulin Community Circle Project in which 149 women and men made several hand-stitched meditation panels for the local community during four years of weekly meetings.    
Judy Martin's workshop,  Meditation Panels, is a 3 day workshop offered at the conference in Newfoundland this coming October 16,  17 and 18.   Here is a link to the conference .  I can't give you a direct link to the workshop, so follow the links on the main page.   The organizers have put a supply list online, but it is incomplete.   They will be correcting it, but in the mean time, please use the information below.

Materials supplied by the instructor   
($46 )

Judy Martin is bringing the four original meditation panels from the Manitoulin Circle Project to this workshop in Newfoundland.  The opportunity to be close to and touch these inspiring hand stitched works of art is reason enough to take this workshop.

Each participant will take home five samples of specialized silk or cotton threads for hand stitching and at least two new needles.  Each participant will also receive a length of texture magic – a heat-shrink product, two metres of light weight foundation cloth, and a printed hand out.
Materials to be supplied by the student:
a)  Fabrics that you believe look good together.  Choose two to five. Please do not bring your whole stash.  Just bring approximately ½ metre lengths to the workshop.  Try to choose natural fibres – cotton, linen, silk, wool or re-cycled damask table linens.  Ensure that the weights of your chosen fabrics are similar.  Because we are stitching into them, choose solids rather than prints. The fabric can be re-purposed family clothing or domestic textiles or it can be brand new.
b)  cotton embroidery floss that co-ordinates with your fabrics.  (2-3 different skeins)
c)  sewing thread that co-ordinates with your fabrics (one spool)
d) sketchbook 
e) drawing and note taking kit - ball point pen, pencil, eraser and black permanent marker
f) a design cloth:  Find an old bed sheet for this.  You need a cloth that you can draw on.  This design cloth will not be included in the finished work but is important for the design process.  Minimum size about 40-48 inches square. 

The images in this post are of Siska Poenn's hand stitched meditation panel sampler.  Siska is one of the participants in Slow Stitch, weekly meetings in Judy Martin's home community on Manitoulin Island, Ontario Canada.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Perivale Gallery opens for the Season

Lake
silk/hemp and linen damask dyed with indigo
entirely hand stitched
66 inches by 52 inches
showing this season at Perivale

Perivale Gallery opens May 17 2015
1 - 5 pm
Spring Bay
Manitoulin Island
705 377 4847

The gallery is open on weekends during May and June and then every day for July and August.
It closes after Labour Day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Mended World Exhibition opens at Homer Watson House and Gallery

Every May, The Homer Watson House and Gallery in Kitchener Ontario Canada exhibits three solo quilt exhibitions.
This year the Mended World exhibition is featured.  Mended World at the Homer Watson consists of the Manitoulin Circle Project (four large panels made with the Manitoulin Community 2009-2013) plus Cloud of Time, Judy's stitching that marks 365 days (2013-14).  Mended World exhibition will be occupying the main gallery space.

Amanda McCavour will show floating garden made entirely of thread   (2011-2012)
and Maggie Vanderweit will exhibit her experiments with eco-printing.
Follow this link to find out more information about events surrounding these exhibitions. 

Opening Reception Saturday May 9 2-4 pm
Homer Watson House and Gallery
1754 Old Mill Road
Kitchener, Ontario N2P 1H7 
519 748 4377
This is the third time that Judy Martin has had a solo exhibition in the main gallery space at the Homer Watson.   Previous exhibitions titles : The House With the Golden Windows, 1995 and My Hand Sings Red, 2001   

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SAQA Journal Featured Artist Spring 2015

Cover Image:  Mended World 2012, made with community assistance as part of the Manitoulin Circle Project 94" x 94" repurposed linen and cotton damask, machine and hand piecework, hand quilted  photo by Klaus Rossler
Judith e Martin was featured in the spring 2015 edition of the Studio Art Quilts Association Journal.
The article is by Martha Sielman.  

Judy Martin’s studio in Sheguiandah, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, contains just a chair, a design wall, and her collection of over 200 journals that she’s kept over the course of her life making in fiber. This past year she’s been re-reading her journals and then wrapping them shut, bundling them up. “I’m enjoying doing this more than I can say - both the re-reading and the shutting up. Perhaps this is in response to my own mortality and not wanting to leave behind a messy house for my kids. My journals help me to make sense of my life and art.”

Known for her dense hand stitching, Judy’s art explores the process of making. For her, this process is more important than the outcome. In a speech she gave about a community meditation project she organized, she said, “Making something slowly with one’s hands is perhaps one of the most nourishing things one can do. Creating something from nothing – or better, creating something new from something no longer needed or wanted is healing for the planet and for us.”  The Manitoulin Circle Project for which Judy was the lead artist brought together over 140 women over four years from 2009 to 2013 to create four huge 90”-square panels, which are now installed permanently in the Little Current United Church sanctuary.

One of the four panels, Mended World, uses a variety of donated and thrift shop damask table linens string-pieced together, cut, and pieced again. Because of the multiple seams, the narrow strings often had to be mended using backstitching as they were being pieced together. As Judy worked to mend an area of the central circle, the title Mended World came to her as a description of the form they were stitching, as well as a vision of hope for our planet. She said, “I think that these panels give hope. These panels are solid; they are real. They were made by real people as gifts. Gifts for the future. These panels are a tangible way to show our belief in a future.”

Judy Martin with Precious Water, 2013 86" x 86" completely hand stitched,.  This piece is one of the panels from the Manitoulin Circle Project and was made with assistance from the community during weekly meetings photo by Frank Myers
Growing up on a farm in northern Ontario, Judy says that their rural isolation fostered a tendency towards self-reliance. “I remember mud, grass, insects, birds, 40-minute school bus rides, trees planted by my mother, vegetable gardens by my father. I grew up with my two siblings and a lot of solitude. Summers were spent under the willow trees day-dreaming. Today I choose to live in the country and try to spend most days alone. My work reflects this choice and often references what I live with here on Manitoulin Island: large empty fields of grass, long views over ripples of water towards a calm horizon.”

Judy uses her long hours of hand stitching as a time for reflection. “My art is about relationships: with family, with nature, and with my inner self. My art is the only place where I feel I can express these things and communicate about them on a deep level. My stitching is based on repetition and accumulation. I am inspired by the many small marks in the natural world, each unique but all the same.”

Wool is a favorite fiber. Judy especially enjoys repurposing old blankets with their layers of inherent meaning and history. She says that blanket-weight wool is an excellent material for a Canadian artist because of the climate. She dyes much of the fiber she uses with natural dyes extracted from local plants in Ontario. However, Judy also uses silk, linen, cotton and enjoys ordering small samples of unusual threads via the Internet just to experiment with them.

Not To Know But To Go On  2010-2013  14" x 223 feet  one skein of cotton embroidery floss was used up each day for three years, couching found fabric to canvas, photo by Gareth Bate
Thread is intrinsic to Judy’s work because hand-stitched marks are the essence of her art. Not to know but to go on was begun when Judy was about to turn 60. She wanted to record the passage of time, so every day she chose a few pieces of fabric from her scrap baskets, tore them into ¾” strips, folded the strips in on themselves lengthwise, and then stitched over the entire strip, attaching it to a 14”-wide canvas background. Each day she chose a color of embroidery floss randomly from her basket. Each day she stitched until she had used up the entire skein. For three years, each day was marked by a different color of thread but often the same base fabric was continued until that scrap was used up. These 223 feet recorded the daily passage of Judy’s time and intention.

Judy spends most mornings either sitting on her deck or in a sunny window overlooking the lake and stitching for about three hours.  After chores and a walk, she goes to her studio to plan out new work and do any machine sewing.  She also presents lectures on how her work combines concerns for the environment with a love of poetry and the life-changing effects of motherhood.  She is again teaching workshops, as well as leading another slow stitch. 

Her most recent personal project was a response to a call for an exhibition entitled Wild Pure Aesthetic Wonder, curated by Gloria Hickey and Philippa Jones. It will be exhibited at the Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Council’s Fibre Conference in Gros Morne, Newfoundland, in October 2015.

In the spring and summer of last year, Judy harvested and processed local plants found near where she lives on Manitoulin in order to dye yards of thrift store finds of blanket-weight wool fabric. “It's always a discovery to work with nature. So many variables can come into play. It was challenging to ensure that the lengths of heavy cloth dyed evenly. Natural dye processes take time, heat, and full immersion.”

Beginning With Time:  Day   2015   Judith e Martin  reclaimed blankets, plant dyes, hand stitch  78" x 90" photo by Nick Dubecki
Then she began stitching. She wanted to transform the wool from something meaningful in its own right to something that used all those qualities but added the emotion and self-revelation that art brings. She found that for this piece, sticking with her preferred minimalist aesthetic was more challenging than usual. The materials were so luxurious that it was constantly tempting to become more elaborate, but she wanted the aesthetic to be simple and pared down. She was so inspired by the wool, the earthy warm brown of the reclaimed over-dyed wool blanket (previously pink), that she is now planning to expand the process in order to make a room-sized installation that will include several blankets. 

beginning with time: day  DETAIL  2015  Judith e Martin  hand stitch , plant dyed wool, photo Nick Dubecki 
In September, with three blankets started, Judy went with her husband to Newfoundland in order to visit both Gros Morne and the Viking settlement on the upper Western Peninsula. In Newfoundland she found “everything and more as far as wildness, pureness, and aesthetic wonder are concerned.” And she returned inspired to choose one of the three blankets and complete it.

Beginning With Time: Night  Judith e Martin 2015  reclaimed wool blankets, plant dyes, hand stitch 78" x 90" photo Nick Dubecki
Beginning with Time is a large piece (78” x 90”), and it covered her entire design wall. Both sides are filled with dense, ordered columns of seed stitch in wool yarns. Judy has titled one side Beginning with Time: Day and the other Beginning with Time: Night. “I hope that what my work communicates is the quiet joy of making and at the same time the feeling that we are each just a tiny speck. This piece has taken on a stubborn silent quality - it will not be defeated. The dots below the horizon are perhaps the safety net I think about or represent a depth we cannot fathom. There is no eye level focal point. Instead, it evokes a feeling of being lost in the woods. The comfort usually associated with wool blankets is altered and gravity is created: the heavy materials and dark colors have an emotional gravity as well as a physical one.” It has been shipped to St. John's for an exhibition at a craft gallery for the month of April and then will show in Gros Morne from May through October 2015. 
Fragile As A Leaf In Autumn  2004  cotton, linen, procion dye, shibori process, piecework, applique, hand embroidery, 73" x 98"  photo Sarah Warburton
The importance of touch is a theme that Judy returns to again and again. “The marks made by the wool threads make us want to pet it with the nap, along the grain, up and down and in circles. I do anyway.” She maintains that while we credit sight with being our most important sense, it is touch that unlocks our unconscious memories and dreams. During emotional experiences such as dreaming, listening to music, or caressing our beloved, we close our eyes. Touch is how we know with our heart and body. Our skin is our biggest organ, so touch is an emotional thing.

Fragile As a Leaf in Autumn detail   Judith e Martin 2004,  hand embroidery, cotton fabrics, photo Sarah Warburton
The meditative nature of repetitive handwork is what gives Judy’s art its resonance. Judy writes, “I believe that my work in textiles reaches others on a more emotional level than drawing or painting ever can. The reason for this is the very materiality of cloth and stitch. Cloth has a most intimate connection to the human body. Babes are wrapped in cloth within minutes of emerging from the womb. Cloth is fragile and wears out with age, like the human body. The hand stitch is a slow method of making a mark and seems to hold time and make it visible. This time spent repeatedly touching a piece expresses a thoughtful caring and tenderness. There is power in cloth that has been stitched by hand.”

Martha Sielman is the Executive Director of SAQA. Judy Martin will be one of the featured artists in her forthcoming book, “Art Quilt Inspirations: Abstracts and Geometrics.”  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canadian SDA Members show in Art Square Gallery, Toronto Ontario

Jade Coast Arbutus by Donna Fay Digance detail
Edge of the Forest is a touring exhibition of a selection of work by Canadian members of the surface Design Association.
Enchanted by Leslie Barnes.  detail
 53 artists are included from across the wide country.  An excellent website shows images of every piece along with statement and biography of each of the artists.
Brown Totem by Anni Hunt  (detail)
A wide variety of techniques (felting, stitching, dyeing, weaving, printing etc) were used by the artists to express the theme.  The curators were looking for thoughtful communication, visual excitement and strong design expressed through strong technique.
Attentive Heart by Kelly Bruton  detail
After the show in Art Square Gallery, Toronto, the exhibition will move to  the John M Parrot Gallery in Belleville, Ontario for June and then on to Newfoundland in August.  It will remain in the Gros Morne area until October 18 as a key part of the  Fibre Art Newfoundland conference.
A Tree Falls by Eleanor Hannan (detail)  
The curator/organizers of the exhibition are Melanie Siegel and Sheila Thompson with help from Rikki Blitt.  The jurors were Joe Lewis, Rachel Miller and Line Dufour.
Living in the Trees by Robin Wiltse (detail)
Judith e Martin judged the exhibition in March.
Sanctuary by Gloria S Daly  
The award of excellence went to Gloria S. Daly for Sanctuary, a piece made from re-purposed blanket and blanket pieces, organza and cotton threads.

Daly's art challenges the accepted need to find beauty in what is new, it asks the viewer to look for the inner beauty within the old and used.  The textiles that Gloria creates are labour intensive and thought provoking as they explore the relationship between yesterday's discarded cloth and today's philosophy of recycling.  Gloria's hand stitching is an expression of personal commitment to each individual piece.
It was a difficult show to judge as there were many strong pieces with differences in techniques.   Congratulations to every artist selected and to the edge of the Forest team for a job well done.

What made Gloria's stand out?  The simplicity of the cross archetype shape grounds the design and draws the viewer from across the room.  Close inspection of the mix of interesting stitches and multiple layers that the artist placed with care and consideration is a reward for heart and mind.  Impeccable workmanship throughout, including the finishing.  Everything in this piece invites and deserves contemplation.
The opening reception is Wednesday April 22.
Please plan to attend if you are able to.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wild Pure Aesthetic Wonder installed in St. John's Newfoundland

installation photo of the exhibition by Philipa Jones
Judy Martin's piece is on upper right
From March 21 to April 25 Wild Pure Aesthetic Wonder exhibition is installed in the gallery space of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Spora, 24 individual spores by Barb Daniell
The curators, Gloria Hickey and Philipa Jones spoke about the work and the process creating an exhibition of new work by 21 artists on April 15.

This is part of their written statement about the exhibition.  "In an increasingly urbanized and technologically advanced society, wilderness may well be our most rare and precious resource.  Pristine wilderness cannot be manufactured.  Wilderness is at the heart of Gros Morne and the challenge we set to our artists was to bring the wild into the heart of their art.  From across the country they have responded with works that show wilderness in ways that are delightful, interactive, poignant, brave and seductive."
Installation of Wild Pure Aessthetic Wonder , photo by Philipa Jones.

List of artists in this exhibition:
Margaret Angel
Kelly Bruton
Kailey Bryan
Barb Daniell
Deb Dumka
Frances Ennis and Maxine Ennis
Rosalind Ford
Susan Furneaux
Jennifer Galliott
Alexe Hanlon
Linda Hope Pointing
Rilla Marshall
Judy Martin
Sarah Minty
Rachel Ryan
Kumi Stoddart
Stephanie Stoker
Amy Todd
Jessica Waterman
Shoshana Wingate

To view a slide show of all the artwork, please click here.
 Judy Martin's Beginning of Time with two young visitors at the opening reception, photo by Philipa Jones
The exhibition continues at the Craft Council Gallery until April 25
59 Duckworth Street, St John's Newfoundland 

Then it will on view in Gros Morne National Park at the Woody Point Discovery Centre for the entire summer until the end of Fibre Arts Newfoundland conference October 18.

Friday, April 10, 2015

local paper covers slow stitch meetings

The Community Circle Project lives on
with new Slow Stitch workshop series
Manitoulin Expositor Wednesday April 1, 2015
by Robin Burridge

The Manitoulin Circle Project - a four panel fiber project created by Island women over four years under the leadership of Manitoulin artist Judy Martin - may have concluded last year, but a new off-shoot workshop has started teaching the stitches from the panels through the creation of individual meditation panels.  "The idea for the (Slow Stitch) workshop series came from the community," explained Ms Martin.  "After the circle project ended, some of the women who participated (over 140 were involved in the original project) were asking 'what's next?"  learning what an impact the project had on the participants lives and sense of community, it inspired me to work with the community again in this way and teach the stitches from the meditation panels for individuals to create their own."

Slow Stitch started at the Little Current United church (the host of the circle project and where the panels are displayed) in February and runs weekly on Thursdays from 1 - 4 pm.

"There are no rules and people can drop in whenever" explained Ms Martin.  "You can start whenever too, you don't have to have been coming since February.  Also, it is free, I'm just asking people to bring their own materials."  Slow stitch, or "slow cloth" as it is commonly known, is a term defined by fiber artist Elaine Lipson, noted Ms Martin.  She said that Ms Lipson's 10 requirements for slow cloth include joy, contemplation, skill, diversity, teaching, materials, quality beauty, community and expression.

The Manitoulin Community Circle Project consists of four panels:  Layers of Time, Mended World, Precious Water and Earth Ark and was born out of an assignment Ms Martin was working on through the Julia Caprara School and a course she was taking in liturgical embroidery.  The stitches being taught by Ms Martin from the panels include French knots, chain stitch, St. George's cross stitch, eyelet embroidery stitch and packed stem stitch to name a few.
Diana Parrill was one of the women participating in the workshop last Thursday when the Expositor stopped in.  She explained that she had been part of the circle project briefly, but that due to other commitments , hadn't been able to participate on a regular basis.  "I have more time now and I'm pleased that I can come and work on a piece at my own time and pace," she said.  Marueen Armstrong added that she had been in the same boat as Ms Parrill and was also pleased she had more time to participate in the new workshop series.  "Judy is an inspiration" Ms Armstrong told The Expositor.  "I've really been enjoying this"

Joceyln Sobeski traveled from Espanola to attend last week's session as well.  "I plan on making the drive as often as I can" said Ms Sobeski of the Thursday workshops.  "I'm constantly evolving as an artist and I want to see fiber art in a different way, through Judy's eyes." Jan Stenschke also made the trek from off-Island to attend a session.  Ms Stenschke said that a fellow artist learned about Judy's slow Stitch workshops online and thought it would be interesting.  "I like to try new things" added Ms Stenschke's friend Carmell Tidd.

Ms Maritn said she is also using the workshops to help prepare for a course she's teaching at Fiber Arts Newfoundland 2015.  "My course is on the meditation panels," said Ms Martin.  "I will be bringing the panels with me in suitcases from the church and teaching a course over three days on how to design and make a meditation panel."  As for Slow Stitch, the workshop series is open ended and ms Martin urges anyone who is interested to drop by the Little Current United Church any Thursday from 1 - 4 pm to learn more or try their hand at fiber art.