This month, a visit to Arts Underground will take you into the process of a fibre artist.
Throughout the show, photos are pinned to the wall over a small piece of fabric, beside the pieces that grew out of them. It’s fun to trace these images into their corresponding pieces.
Eleven members of the Northern Fibres Guild are featured.
In Fall Follies, Lise Merchant shares the photograph of fall leaves that inspired the making of her luxurious art bag. It’s made from a hooking that obviously derives from that image of leaves. But the differences that the artist has added make this particularly interesting. Merchant’s leaves have more pronounced colour and veining.
In Dancing Blooms, instead of a photograph, she has worked from a stained glass design. Merchant worked as a very popular stained glass artist for years until health reasons required her to stop. She’s since become an accomplished artist in rug hooking. It’s marvellous to see one of her stained glass designs in the richness and depths of wool.
She has also laid out some felted wool fabric, with mottled dyeing, so we can see what she cuts the strips from to get her gradated colours.
Barbara Pratt also has a number of hooked pieces on display.Jelly Bean Row takes an image of a house to a place of whimsy. She’s played with the colours, made the house narrower, and repeated it three times.
Recycled 100 per cent T-shirts are included in her work. Her explanation of the technique she’s using is particularly clear.
In Oh! What a Yukon Sky! Pratt has used new and recycled wool fabric to show a little cabin under Northern Lights. Even parallel rows she’s chosen for the lake communicate its flat surface well. The small yellow square windows in the little cabin make it seem warm and alive.
My Yukon Dream, by the same artist, again uses the directional lines in the hooking to add form and movement. The lines in the wool depicting the sky’s streaky diagonal clouds contrast well with the 3-D modelling of the mountain behind the mossy-roofed cabin.
But there’s more than hooking.
Susan Ross has a variety of drums on display, made of the skins of the goats she raises with her husband. She’s dyed them in bold tones of purple, red, fuscia and black.
Sally Sheppard has been engaged in a direct transformation of the photographic image.
She has used ink jet to print images of old vehicles from the North Canol Road directly onto cotton. Then she has “dropped the feed dogs” on her sewing machine. (For those of you to whom that sounds like part of the Yukon Quest, that means she’s lowered the little zigzag bits on the table of the machine that advance the fabric along as the machine stitches.) Then she’s used “freestyle machine embroidery”, layering many colours of cotton and rayon thread to recreate the image.
In North Canol Beauty, you can see some areas where she’s just left the photo transfer, and embroidered around it. In this and other pieces she combines machine embroidery with hand embroidery and beading.
Gail Roberts‘ three-panel hand-dyed silk room divider spans the seasons. The lines of the landscape flow through the overall design, which features Lupins in June, Willows in July, and Fireweed in August, in sequence.
Claudia Hannig contributes Knight’s Delight, a purse, poncho, skirt and headband ensemble. The poncho’s purple looks cozy. A whimsy of plant forms set off the headband and purse. Lara Melnik‘s necklace and earrings, in matching colours, continue the ensemble.
Kate Williams displays a Hat for the Queen of Mongolia. She explains it’s inspired by men’s Mongolian hats: “I have created one for a woman to make her feel like a queen.”
Fluffy knitted and felted black wool is pulled to a ponytail point at the back, wrapped in vermillion and black. The hat folds back to leave an asymmetrical opening filled with vermillion glass garment closures with silver findings, to be worn over the right eye.
The show also includes toddler-size sweaters of “Peer Gynt Wool” by Linda McConnell; knobbly needle-felted scarves by Kate Buerge, with one inspired by a Periwinkle River, Seasons, an abstract weaving that takes up from the dark-green and purple of crocuses, through the blue and pink of mountain flowers, to fall’s russets and mustards.
You can also peer into a needle-felted tide pool full of sea stars, with a small octopus, by Susan Stuart.
This show is the culmination of a juried process taken on by the Northern Fibres Guild. They received training from Ruth McCullough, Belinda Harrow, Harreson Tanner and Sandra Storey. Topics ranged from inspiration to pricing of work. The project received support from the Arts Operating Fund.
Guild members will be on site offering demonstrations of their techniques every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Check with Arts Underground for details at www.artsunderground.com.
From the Eye to the Hand continues until March 31.