Saturday, August 24, 2013

Manitoulin Circle Project Wraps Up

Two articles about the circle project were recently published in the Manitoulin Expositor.  Written by Robin Burridge, they are transcribed (and edited) below.

Wednesday August 7, 2013

After four years, 140 pairs of hands, hundreds of repurposed textiles, and millions of hand stitches, the Manitoulin Community Circle Project is nearing its conclusion with organizer Judy martin inviting everyone who has worked on the project to come out and bring a friend to help add the finishing stitches to the final piece in the four panel textile project this thursday, August 8 between 10 am and 6 pm.

"This final piece is called Layers of Time explained Ms. Maritn when the Expositor sat down with the Island textile artist last week.  "The textiles in the piece are laid instead of pieced, as normally done when quilting.  With the layering of lace, you can actually see the various layers."
Layers of Time 2013

The name is both literal and symbolic, Ms. Martin further explained.  "The name represents the layers of time that we have put into the piece and the time that other women have put into the doilies and handmade linens that have been repurposed o make up all the pieces," said Ms Martin.  "The materials that make up Layers of Time are vintage wool blankets, lace doilies and silk tablecloths and napkins.  They are all domestic and beautiful textiles."

Ms Martin noted that Layers of Time , like the other panels, is composed of a circle within a square.  "Circles are dynamic, they are slow moving, alive, flowing and have no end.  They are self contained.  The square has limits.  It is like the earth.  The heaven is represented as the circle come down to earth in the square.  The circle is the spirit, the square is the body that contains it."

She added that the two shapes balance both  the piece itself and the symbolism within them.  The square is a limited space, and is a reminder that life has limits and we must achieve all that we can in our short dynamic time."

Once the final piece is finished, it will be removed from its frame and will join the other three panels Earth Artk, Mended World and Precious Water at the thunder Bay Art Gallery where the collection will be on display from September 13 until October 27.  

The four year project was born out of an assignment Ms Martin was working on through the Julia Caprara School and a course on Liturgical embroidery.  Though the original assignment was simply the planning and consultation on a project, which Ms Martin did with Reverend Faye Stevens of the little Current United Church, Ms Stevens and members of the congregation became so passionate about the project that ms Martin decided to take the project on, thus the Manitoulin Community Circle Project was born.

Over the last four years, a total of 140 women have met at the church on Thursday afternoons to work on the project.  Throughout it all Ms Martin was at the centre, and now as the project comes to a close she has mixed emotions.  "It (the project) has been very good_ said Ms Martin.  "I have had wonderful support.  I almost cried today as I thought about how much faith some of the women have had in me and the project, but I am glad that it is almost finished.  We have worked hard and created four large quilts."

"I feel we are blessed in a small Northern community to have church art that takes us beyond our felt banner primers to something that requires a second look and an invitation to deeper contemplation" Reverend Stevens told the Expositor on Monday.  "Each panel has a different stoyr and evokes a different response; together they express an interpretation of a relationship with our Creator, the community, and the wider world.  Because thye have all been made from used materials they represent the making new of all things (the hope of the gospel) the tiny, shared stitching over a long period of time represents the slow, steady evolution of a new creation achieved in partnership with each other and the spirit, which some of us call God."
eyelet embroidered

"While the community has been involved, Judy has certainly done the lion's share of the work, many times working long hours alone" continued Reverend Stevens.  "I am so grateful to Judy for her vision, leadership, and commitment to seeing a long project through.  Judy has not only taught and stitched with the group, she has had marvelous gatherings to mark significant anniversaries or accomplishements throughout."

To help finish the project or to add your stitch, join Ms Martin this Thursday, August 8 any time between 10 am until 6 pm at the Little Current United Church.

Wednesday August 21, 2013

Last Thursday, as members of the Manitoulin Community Circle Project bound Layers of Time , the last of the four panel textiles that make up the project, there were mixed feelings from the women who spent the last four years of their lives not only working together on the pieces, but with each stitch weaving their own lives together through friendship, love and support.

"I'm happy the project is complete, but sad at the same time," said Heather Hutchinson, who has worked steadily on the project each Thursday over the last four years.  "Judy has been an amazing teacher.  She is so welcoming and never critical.  If anyone ever made a mistake she would just look at it and say :that's fine."  Over the last four years she has shared so much personally too, we all have.  It has been wonderful being immersed in her creativity."

Island textile artist Judy martin started the Manitoulin Circle Project four years ago....Liturgical embroidery.
All the pieces were made using re purposed linens that were donated to the project.. The four panels will eventually all hang in  the church, after returning from exhibits in both Thunder Bay and Sudbury.

"It's amazing, all the women who have worked on this project," Sue Hance told The Expositor last Thursday as she helped bind Layers of Time, noting that over 145 women had worked on the panels.

"This project goes beyond the pieces themselves," added Judy Larimer.  "It;'s been a chance to get to know new people and connect with the ladies that came before us and made the textiles we are reusing.  We are connected to them and to each other through these pieces and it is wonderful to be part of something like this." 

"It has been very wonderful sharing and getting to know and reknow these women." said Julia McCutcheon. "Some of these women I knew as teenagers and through the project we have reconnected.  We have all shared so much - ups and downs, challenging times and times of joy - throughout it all we have been there for each other." 
"I just retired to the Island this year,": shared Thersa Elliott.  It's been a way to get to know people and share.  I wish I had been here for the other three years."

Karen Doughty had a similar story to share. "My first introdcution to Little Current was here with these ladies;" she said.    "I vacationed here a year before I moved here (four years ago) and I saw a story about the project in the paper" continued Ms Doughty. "I had always wanted to try quilting so when I moved here I joined the group.  I made many new friends through the project and also job connections.  "The most meaningful thing to me about the project is learning what it is like to have the support of a group of women who have all been trhough so much and the knowledge and support that brings."

AFter the women finished binding the final piece, they enjoyed a tea party and celebration.

"I am relaly happy that you are all here today," Ms Martin announced to the group.  "You have all been so wonderful and supportive throughout this project and it has meant a lot to me."  Ms Martin explained that Layers of Time will join the other three pieces, along with a two volume book she created featureing photos and the outlined hands of the 147 volunteers that worked on the project.  This wil be at th e Thunder Bay Art Gallery where it wil be on display from Septebmer 13 - October 27 followed by the Art Gallery of Sudbury in January 2014.

In addition, Ms Martin will also be displaying a stitching journal she worked on every day for three years of the project as well as a second stitching journal titled "clouds of time".

"Thank you to all the stitchers" said Reverend Stevens as she presented Ms Martin with a card.  "It has been great coming in and seeing the church hall so full each Thursday.  This card cannot express how much your continued support to our church and community has meant to us all."  

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