Monday, January 20, 2014

Artist's talk at art gallery of sudbury opening reception for mended world

My career as an artist has had the swift passage of time as a constant theme.  This started when I became a mother.  It was my children and how beautiful they were in the sunlight and the realization that they were changing so quickly that made me paint them.  Time's passage was the subject.

How to stop it? Catch it?
How to slow it down?
How to make it visible - sometimes time whirls by so quickly , we don't even notice
How to remember it?
How to honour it.

This exhibition is connected by time.
There are two floors, and each floor represents four years of time.  They actually represent the same four years.  The upper floor is me, going through the four years day by day, living a quiet life out there by the lake, or traveling to see my children marry.  All that whirl of time is contained with the slowest way of making a mark.  Hand stitch.

Time time time
Touch touch touc.

On this floor is the work of the Manitoulin Circle Proejct.  although the intent of these panels was not to mark out four years of visible time, that is what happened.

Every Thursday, for four years between October 2009 and August 2013, a group of us met in the United Church Hall in Little Current and hand stitched these pieces together.  That's over 200 Thursdays.

That time commitment alone is amazing.  Altogether, 144 different individuals put their hands into the work of this project, and that is also amazing.  Most of those were visitors - people who would come out once or twice to see what was going on and add a few stitches.  There were about thirty who I would have to say were regulars, and I see many of them here today.  Thank you for coming.

We had a kind of mantra.  "We're not fast - but we're slow"

These panels were hand stitched.  That is a very quiet way of making art.  It is a very slow way of making art.  Stitching uses the body's gesture. It uses the sense of touch.

These panels wer emade with textiles from past times. Used linen table cloths, woolen blankets, lace doilies in combination with new silk and new threads.  All the materials were donated.
We started with the Earth Ark panel in 2009.  We started with the green silk squares.  This was the only part that I was absolutely sure about.  Working with the fabric is different than working on paper.  Things change.  As the knots on the silk squares accumulated, we could see that we had made not only the lower half of a circle, but an island with planted fields.  And it looked like a boat.

Like Noah's ark, all of these panels are about saving.  They take the reparation of the earth as their subject.  They use recycled cloth and are made by hand, slowly and carefully.  Many individuals came together to make them for the wider community of Manitoulin.  What we have made will outlast us.  These are for the future, heirlooms.  Life affirming meditation panels.

The titles of the four panels are Earth Ark, Precious Water, Layers of Time and Mended World.

We signed in each Thursday.  Showing the book with the first 89 signatures, and reading the journal entry about feeling as if I belonged to the community.  Like in Babar the elephant king's well planned cities. Reading from October 2010.

There are several of my ladies here today.  Please come up with me to the front.
The second book of signatures - reading from September 2012 about what the circle project has given us.  Camaraderie, healing.   We continue and continue...

For a review by the Manitoulin Expositor about the opening of Mended here.

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