Friday, October 17, 2014

Halifax Planter Box

Planter box in Halifax; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
I spotted this planter with its colourful painted branches on Gottingen Street in Halifax's North end this summer. The purple branches and flowers are a nice complementary contrast to the yellow building. Does anyone know what the flowers are (aside from pretty and purple)? 
Update: Diana tells me that the pretty purple flowers are Verbena bonariensis. Thanks Diana!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Woven chair seat repair

Woven chair seat repair; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Hubby and I are both Mennonite, frugalish, and creative. We are also both patient, but in different ways. I can spend months (and sometimes years) stitching a textile; hubby untangles knots and fixes things. When a seat rung on our teak chair broke, hubby glued it. The mend did not take, so I came up with plan B: weave the rung into submission. I am a textile artist, my husband is not. Guess who spent several hours weaving the repair... twice? Not me. My hubby is a keeper.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quotes: G.K. Chesterton

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." –– G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dorothy Caldwell Silent Ice Deep Patience @ AGP 5

Dorothy Caldwell Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake, 2011;
Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake is a classic Dorothy Caldwell textile with its black and white wax and silkscreen resist, appliqué, and sensitive stitching.
Dorothy Caldwell Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake detail, 2011;
Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The stitching in this textile is fine.
Dorothy Caldwell Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake detail, 2011;
Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Dorothy's use of various black-and-white patterns reminds me of Japanese Boro.
Dorothy Caldwell Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake detail, 2011;
Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
From a distance, most of the textiles in this exhibition appear to be quilts, but they are not. 

Dorothy Caldwell Listening for the Bell Bird/Watching for the Brown Snake, 2011; wax & silkscreen resist on cotton with stitching and appliqué; mounted on industrial felt. Estimated size: 36" square (no size listed). 

All photos taken with permission from Dorothy Caldwell and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dorothy Caldwell Silent Ice Deep Patience @ AGP 4

Dorothy Caldwell Flying Over Salt Lakes, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Flying Over Salt Lakes is the fifth and last of the family-of-five earth ochre textiles. The white ochre on black cloth resembles discharged fabric.
Dorothy Caldwell Flying Over Salt Lakes detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Dorothy combines fine and chunky stitching and couched lines to great effect. The stitching is exuberant, deeply sensitive, and intuitive. 
Dorothy Caldwell Flying Over Salt Lakes detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The earth ochre textiles are a departure, as they are void of her usual screen-printed marks. They are all about line and texture. Dorothy's calm, quiet presence are embedded in these sensitive textiles. 

All photos taken with permission from Dorothy Caldwell and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quotes: Györky Konrád

"Courage is only the accumulation of small steps."–– Györky Konrád (b. 1933), Hungarian essayist

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dorothy Caldwell Silent Ice Deep Patience @ AGP 3

Dorothy Caldwell, Pink Hill, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Pink Hill is one of a family of five intimate textiles installed together from Dorothy Caldwell's Silent Ice Deep Patience exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough. Pink Hill, like her fellow earth ochre encrusted sisters, is about 18" X 24" and is mounted on industrial felt. Pink Hill has a subdued colour palette of black, pale yellow and pale pink. The loopy texture reminds me of a chenille bedspread and makes me wonder if the cloth was stitched unstretched versus in a hoop. Dorothy must have strong hands and wrists to pull multiple strands (possibly all six) of embroidery floss through the cotton. 
Dorothy Caldwell, Pink Hill detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
It appears that Pink Hill was stitched after the black cotton was coated with earth ochre. I wonder if Dorothy mordanted the cotton with soy milk (a protein) before coating it with the ochre and if some of the ochre flake off in time. The more that I look at these deeply engaging textiles from the perspective of a maker, the more curious I am about Dorothy's process and materials. The textiles are embedded with well over 40 years of her knowledge and insights as a maker.
Dorothy Caldwell, Human Trace, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Human Trace also belongs to the above-mentioned family-of-five. It's amazing that five stitched ochre-encrusted cotton textiles can all look so different. From looking at the images, I sense that each of the textiles were black prior to the stitching and painting. Did Dorothy stitch the cloth before or after adding the ochre? I imagine that ochre-encrusted cloth would be difficult to stitch, especially with such thick threads.
Dorothy Caldwell, Human Trace detail, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
There's much to be learned from looking slowly and carefully at the work of a master. My admiration for the work is ineffable.

All photos taken with permission from Dorothy Caldwell and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.