Thursday, 1 October 2015

Judy Martin: Mended World @ Homer Watson House & Gallery 2

Judy Martin, Mended World, 2012; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
My photo of the Mended World liturgical panel does not do the textile justice. Along with TrinityMended World is of the quieter of the five large liturgical panels: all circles within squares. Mended World is one of the four textiles that Judy Martin designed and then made with assistance from over 100 volunteers, all part of the Manitoulin Circle Project (hereafter MCP). The MCP ran from 2009 to 2013. Every Thursday, Martin and a random assortment of community members, usually a dozen or so, would gather at the Little Current United Church from 10 am to 6 pm. The volunteers came with a range of sewing experience. They gathered even when Martin was away due to travel commitments or otherwise.
Judy Martin, Mended World, 2012 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
What happens when community members work together toward a common goal for four years? The MCP participants were a circle of people meeting in what was most likely a square or rectangular building and they made liturgical textiles of circles within squares: the gatherings mirrored the textile designs. While working together on textiles, heads are down and hands are busy, allowing conversation interspersed with moments of silence; this is a great way for introverts and extroverts to work together.
Judy Martin, Mended World, 2012 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Had a sociologist been present during the four years of the MCP, he/she may have witnessed the gradual building of deeper social cohesion, especially among community members who would not normally connect. Did the Manitoulin Circle Project bind the community together and create an open and fluid circle of belonging and welcome?

Mended World is strip-pieced. Note the flecks of blue within the central circle and the shimmer of the repurposed table linens. It is a quiet, elegant liturgical panel.

Mended World completed in 2012 was hand and machine stitched, and made of recycled linen and cotton damask, and silk. The size is 243.8 X 243.8 cm.
Judy Martin, Precious Water, 2013; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Precious Water is a double circle with a horizon line bisecting the textile. The design and colours echo Earth Ark. It is hand-stitched and made with recycled linen and cotton damask, silk, and linen. The dimensions are 218.4 X 218.4 cm. I'm gobsmacked that the entire liturgical textile was pieced without the assistance of a sewing machine. The double-circle reads as a protective zone surrounding an island and its sky.
Judy Martin, Precious Water, 2013 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
The lower section of the textile is composed of circles within squares, reinforcing the theme. The ruched blue section was made with a special backing fabric that shrinks when exposed to heat. Once the grid of blues and off-whites were stitched to the backing, a heat gun shrunk the backing fabric. The colours are harmonious, but I am not convinced by the ruched texture. It feels gimmicky in relation to the rest of the liturgical panel.
Judy Martin, Precious Water 2013 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
The dots were expertly formed using the satin stitch.
Judy Martin, Precious Water 2013 detail; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
The circles within squares of the lower section were created with reverse appliqué, a time-consuming process that requires skill and practice. Martin and the Manitoulin Circle Project volunteers poured a high level of care, detail, and time into Precious Water

Judy Martin Mended World: an exhibition of the Manitoulin Community Circle Project 
at Homer Watson House and Gallery, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada 
May 9 to June 14, 2015

All photographs were taken with permission from the artist.


Judy Martin said...

You have some insightful comments here, Karen. I especially like how you realized that we were a circle of hands meeting together within a square building, and also that we were binding people together who might not usually have even met. Truly a mended world.

Thank you very much for taking so much time and putting so much thought into the writing of these reviews. Much appreciated.


Claudia said...

I really love the way these pieces are so much about the mark of the hand. Your descriptions and photographs are lovely and inspiring. I wish I'd seen the work in person, but at least I have you!

Jenny M said...

I followed the 'crumbs' from Judy's blog ~ thank you for sharing your thoughts & photos of these amazing textiles...being in Australia I have no chance of every seeing these panels in person, so to have someone share this is wonderful.
It would have been a truly interesting experience to be involved in the creation of these panels ~ I would be so interested to read the thoughts of the community of people that were involved.