From the moment that Jacquelyn van Kampen stepped off the plane in Whitehorse, she felt that she had arrived in a magical place.
Growing up in southern Ontario, she thought of the Yukon as a cold and dark place that she would likely never visit. But that was before she saw an application form for an Artist in Residence for Haines Junction while at art school.
Heiko Haehnsen, a Haines Junction resident who works with a cultural committee, reached out to art students across Canada and in Europe.
By chance, Jacquelyn van Kampen had decided to brush up on her sewing skills at LaSalle College School of Design.
Before heading to art college, van Kampen had been using her degree in Industrial Design as a project manager for a tech company in Toronto.
She says she grew restless, wanting to be creative instead of supplying creative ideas to others. The appeal of adventure and the opportunity to spend three months working with textiles seemed like a challenge. And, in August, van Kampen arrived. She was immediately inspired by the spirit of generosity and the warmth of Yukoners.
Since arriving in Haines Junction, van Kampen has gathered materials from the local Free Store and donations such as furs and unprocessed llama wool. Haehnsen had arranged for the Anglican Church rectory to be used as a work space for her. The living room of the rectory has been transformed into a creative space with work tables covered in patterns and fabrics, clothing in the midst of being repurposed and an ironing board set up so that the mountain view from the window is inspiring.
And van Kampen can work as late as she likes and get back to her designs in the morning, coffee in hand.
A transformation has been taking place in the makeshift workshop as the mountain landscape and seasonal changes imbue van Kampen’s designs, which she is creating for a show in December. Her clothing items will feature the essence of golden aspen trees using fabric and twists of llama hair, mountains with snow caps as seen in falcon feathers, the June flowers blooming in the ditches embroidered onto a green coat.
Many of the materials are either natural or re-purposed and given life again – an idea van Kampen finds much more inspiring than shopping for fabric in a store.
Because she is here for three months, van Kampen notes that she has the time to relax into the setting. She has made a lasting connection with the Yukon in Haines Junction and will carry the Yukon’s spirit with her.
The art display, “Sewing Through a Landscape,” will be presented on Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 pm at the St. Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction. Jacquelyn van Kampen will host a “Phases of the Residency” slideshow and will provide an artist’s talk and fashion show. The show will be preceded by the community potluck dinner at 6:00 p.m.