Archive for the ‘Exhibitions and shows’ Category

Terra Silva: A Return to the Roots

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Hello Everyone!

In starting this new post, I am reminded of the way we were taught as children to begin confession in true Roman Catholic style. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been _____________ since my last confession.”  At this point, we either said “last week Thursday”, easy to recall since our whole class was herded in weekly, or, later in our lives, we made it up (erring on the most recent option, hoping God wasn’t keeping tabs). Well, I must say in this new age, I can look at precisely when I wrote my last blog post and it has certainly been a long long time. Tabs are being kept, and it ain’t pretty.

Hey, it’s not as if nothing was happening! In fact, there was just too much going on to know where to begin. I love writing and I miss it!!! And… mea culpa. Here I am once again, hopefully in the driver’s seat, time-wise.

Let’s start with recent news. Last month, after a four month wait since applying, I was awarded a generous grant to pursue a project very dear to my heart. The grant is the Ontario Arts Council Franco-Ontarian Arts Grant for Established Artists, and it is meant to help artists set aside time and resources to creating a body of work.

 

SNOOPY DOING LORRAINE’S HAPPY DANCE

For my project, I propose to create an exhibition inspired by the world beneath the earth’s surface, where roots meet the soil. Most of us are completely unaware of the millions of organisms that work the soil. In fact, soil life accounts for a much larger living mass than that which exists above ground, just as roots can outweigh and outsize the visible part of the tree. I have always been fascinated by the science of soil, and it has been the subject of much of my latest work.

In my search for inspiration, I recently became aware of the work of Prof Suzanne Simard of UBC. Dr Simard is studying how microscopic fungi act as a communication interface between one set of roots and another, creating bridges between various tree species to share resources. The network works much like the neural networks of our own brain. Through her work, we are learning that trees in a forest do not compete, but in fact cooperate with each other and share resources. This gives a forest more resilience and stability against adversity like disease or climate change. In every forest ecosystem, there are certain Mother trees – older, larger specimens – that serve as anchors for a large grouping of younger trees around them. When Mother trees die, they slowly release their stored nutrients and resources to all the trees in the network. Click on the image below for a wonderful video of Prof Simard, talking about Mother Trees.

Professor Suzanne Simard explaining her research

This research is a rich source of inspiration, both visually and conceptually. Also, it will be relevant to all who love trees and nature, and who care about the environment. I have been in touch with Dr Simard – she is eager to share more information and is excited about the exhibition. In fact, she invites me to come and see first-hand what she and her students are up to in the lab and in the field. Of course, I am saying YES!

So, here I am right at the beginning. Dr Simard sent me half a dozen papers and articles to read up on, and I’ve acquired a textbook for which she is a contributor. Happy to share this journey with you, along with all the digressions and distractions along the way.

Always yours,

Lorraine

Blue Fissure #1  12×12″  2014

The value of working in Series

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Escarpment #13 2009 24x24"

Escarpment #13 2009 24×24″

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
Joseph Campbell

Way at the start of my art life, all my passions were directed at exploring techniques and trying out new materials. I wondered how any artist could deliberately limit herself to one particular subject for two consecutive pieces, let alone an entire series! The infinite possibilities were too exciting. How could I possibly choose one over another? What if I missed out on something even better? And truly, the textile industry marketing machine is built on distraction, with new materials, techniques and equipment introduced every day. Overwhelmed and scattered, I began to realize there were fewer and fewer satisfying and tangible results for my constant industry. It was time to rethink the value of limits.

For me, this realization preceded a beautiful turning point. Now, I rarely do one-offs. Nearly all my new work somehow, either formally or loosely, fits into some kind of series. I want to write here about the value of working in series, not from a curator’s or collector’s point of view (because this is well covered in many excellent articles already), but from my own experience as an artist. How does it work, with respect to my creative path?

Perhaps I am predisposed to working in repetitive mode. At our family cottage, my favourite activity is to walk the very same 45 minute trail from our property to a rocky shore on the opposite side of the point. I do this at least once a day, at different times and in all weathers and seasons. While walking, I might mull over whatever is foremost in my mind, or just watch for butterflies. Each step is a rhythmic motion, a heartbeat, that carries me from one thought to the next. Invariably, by the time I reach the end of the point and back, some insight reveals itself that would not have come otherwise. For me, this trail provides a consistent platform from which to frame and recalibrate my inner world. Over and over, on the very same trail, I never fail to find something new.

As in life, so with art. A subject chooses me, and so the trail is set. When I first moved to the Niagara Escarpment area eight years ago, I found myself observing how the layers of unyielding rock supported certain vegetation and trees. What a rich vein of imagery and ideas to draw on! And so my Escarpment series was born:

Escarpment #1  2008 23x32"

Escarpment #1 2008 23×32″

The first pieces I produced really primed the pump. I loved working on the rock imagery in collage and appliqué, and I loved the results. Fresh ideas began to suggest themselves. With each new step, my thoughts turned to the metaphoric value of these images, like Triumph over Adversity:

Triumph  2011  30x40"

Triumph 2011 30×40″

No single piece in a series can possibly tell the whole story, and why should it? In this piece, I can tell the story of Courage:

Courage  2010  24x24"

Courage 2010 24×24″

In this one, I can talk about time and memory:

Between Now and Then  2009  36x48"

Between Now and Then 2009 36×48″

Or I can simply have some fun with colour and materials:

Escarpment #16  2009  24x24"

Escarpment #16 2009 24×24″

The possibilities are endless, series within series, and all kinds of spinoffs. Each piece is a step, like a sentence in a paragraph. It leads to the next, and so on, until the thought is complete. Sometimes it takes only two or three pieces. Other times, as with my ongoing Hawthorn series, the conversation continues intermittently for years and years.

Like all good things in life, the Escarpment series led to another, my Fertile Ground series. And I trust that eventually, by keeping to my trail, new ideas for series will grow, either building on the ones before, or shooting off on other tangents entirely. Working in series is a rhythmic, organic process that resonates with the pulse of nature. I feel the music of the Universe within me, with every step.

Do you like working in series? How did you start, and what are you working on now?

Fissure #5 2011  24x24" - another tangent!

Fissure #5 2011 24×24″ – another tangent!

 

Small Works at Taylor’s Tea Room

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

On Friday morning, early!, my husband and I hung 14 of my small pieces on the lovely lavender walls of Taylor’s Tea Room in Dundas. The owner, Brayden Erlich subsequently emailed me with the following:

“Lorraine! I have to say thank you so much it’s just how I imagined! Amazing feedback all day long. And I love it!!
So pumped! Tomorrow will be great! The place looks fabulous!”

And it WAS great! The opening was slated for Saturday, Dec 1 from 2-4 pm. It was a busy day in Dundas, so the visitors were pleased to have a quiet place to stop over for complimentary tea and scones. And such enthusiasm! I am truly blessed.
If you are in the area, do drop by! Taylor’s Tea Room is at 11 King Street West in Dundas, ON  905 628-3768.

Some photos from the day:

Brayden Erlich and me

                                                   ….. and a beautiful spread for all to enjoy….

Healing Herbs

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

June, 2012. On my last weekend jaunt in Tobermory, I came across a very tempting jumble of books for sale at the local library. Nestled among the cookbooks, ancient hardcovers and fast-food novels I found the Rodale Herb Book, published in 1973. I am a collector of herb books. No matter how old the book, each offers a fresh view on cookery, medicals and dyes. I love nothing better than to sit back with a cup of tea and learn new stuff about herbs.

There are hundreds if not thousands of uses for herbs, but my all time favourite is tea-making. Every evening from spring through to fall, I’ve made a ritual of harvesting a bunch of herbs from my garden for fresh tea. This habit began years ago when I lived in London and had built up a great medicinal collection to experiment with. My poor sister who suffered from headaches and stomach problems was the frequent recipient of my brews. Eventually I picked up enough knowledge to help with minor ailments, and luckily didn’t kill anyone while doing it. I found the entire process of tea making from seed planting to drinking absolutely magical.

My favourite Scott Barnim mug filled with the combination of the day.

My herb collection is by no means comprehensive, but even with the few dozen I have, I can easily make a different tea each time. My technique? Around an hour or so after supper, I wander through the sections with a small knife, choosing an appropriate combination for the day. I collect a handful of 4-5 herbs, stems and all, or flowers with their centres. Lightly wash them in cold water. Put them in a little brown betty teapot, and pour freshly boiled water on top. Allow to steep for 5 minutes or so. Then strain into a mug (white mugs are best, so I can see the colour). All the drinks are very refreshing, even when they are hot. Sometimes I put the strained brew in the fridge for iced tea. People who are used to tea from dry leaves find that the same herbs taste very different when fresh. Once they’ve had fresh tea, it’s not easy to go back.

I do have some favourite combinations. Peppermint, bronze fennel, perilla and chamomile flowers make a great blend and it’s a beautiful clear jade colour. I like peppermint in all my teas. But the sky is the limit – recently I added lavender to the mix. Catmint is supposed to help with sleep, so when I’ve had a bout of insomnia, I will mix it with chamomile and spearmint. It tastes strong and bitter!!, but it works. Calendula flowers help with digestion. And recently I learned that the petals of calendula are edible and high in carotenoids including lutein – great for the eyes. I use them in salads all the time.

I believe that the benefit of fresh tea doesn’t come only from the drinking: all steps from planting to harvest are healing activities. I love knowing that the soil’s molecules absorbed by their roots will eventually become part of my body. Working my land, drinking water from our well, breathing oxygen purified from our trees, and even our septic system! make me feel that I participate in the cycles of nature.

If you would like to see my gardens and try out one of my teas, come and visit me during the Hamilton Open Garden Tour. My garden and studio will be open from June 30 to July 2, 2012 10-4 each day. There will be plenty of other gardens to see during that time period. I will post the link with map and info when it becomes available. I would love to see you!

My kitchen garden so far this year.

 

 

Window on the world

Monday, April 30th, 2012

You may know I make a living from my art. Have been now, for a good 20 years, with the odd few years between, working at ‘real jobs’.

It’s not always easy, as you can already imagine. NOT knowing when and where the next cheque is coming from is not for the faint of heart. My husband makes his living from fine art photography, so he’s in the same boat. The period between February to May is particularly slow for art sales.

Stop waiting for nothing - Sopiko Cherkezishvili

So I do other things. I teach, I do some public speaking, and I sit at this computer dreaming up creative ways to make sure I am not forgotten in the huge and competitive art market. It’s a balancing act. How to ‘keep it real’, and not fall into the commercial maelstrom that eventually sucks our creativity and will to live?

In this way I feel very lucky. I happen to love social media. If they could find a way to insert a chip to keep me eternally connected, I would probably go for it. This obsession for connection probably comes from my lifetime of moving around… most of my dearest friends live in other towns, some of them far away, and email and facebook are perfect for keeping in touch. But now it’s gone deeper – I have decided that it will be an extension of my creativity – so now, it’s not only a necessity… it’s actually fun. And it helps me put food on my table and gas in my car.

Outreach in all its forms is very important for a successful art career. I prefer to call it outreach, rather than promotion, because for me, it’s an extension of the communication that begins with my art. If art making was only about making money, I could think of 1,000 better ways to do it. Outreach is a way to make my art communicate to a larger audience. Reaching an audience – moving them, delighting them, helping make their lives more beautiful, more special, more meaningful – is the prime goal. It provides the most important currency for a true artist.

So a few months ago, my husband, after encountering arrogance and misrepresentation by Art Sales and Rental at Art Gallery of Hamilton (resulting in his asking to remove his exhibition from the community gallery), learned about the possibility of renting a large corner window. This enormous space just happens to be right across the driveway from the main AGH entrance. May was the perfect month to rent it, coinciding with the big Spring Art Gallery of Hamilton Sale, to which neither of us was invited this year. We felt this would be the right opportunity to make a statement about the AGH Art Sales and Rental’s current lack of support and respect for local artists.

Window at King St and Sunset in Hamilton, ON

Janusz set it all up… every inch of space was carefully and lovingly planned. Our contact information is there, including QR codes for the Smartphone set.   The photo on Facebook has so far generated nearly 40 likes and a dozen comments. We consider it our ‘outreach gallery’. Let’s see how it all plays out, around the AGH Art Sales and Rental Spring Sale. Our work will be there until the end of May.

So – for us – this is how we are ‘keeping it real’. Trying to accomplish a lot with a little, while not drifting into the dead zone of commercialism. It keeps us engaged and having some fun. And it plays in nicely with my firebrand husband’s political side… in a subtle and quiet way.

So what do YOU think? Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads these posts. Your comments will be much appreciated!

Long Beach, California: Here they come!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
SPRING   18X36″

Hello everyone,

As I mentioned in my last post, four of my wall pieces will be on display at the Janome Sewing Machine booth during the International Quilt Festival , in Long Beach, CA from July 29-31, 2011.

SUMMER 18X36″

The theme for this year’s exhibition is The Four Seasons, which is right up my alley!

AUTUMN  18X36″

So I hope some of you will have a chance to see the show, and drop by at the booth to see my babies. AND – they are for sale, each at $1500.

WINTER   18X36″

So now, you probably think I won’t know what to do with myself. NOT!!!!  In true Roy style, I decided to put all this down time to good use.

So – my husband and I will be part of the Hamilton Open Gardens event at the end of June and start of July. This means our ‘Work in Progress’ gardens will be open for viewing, and our Studio will be open as well. Our dates and hours are Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4, from 10-5 pm each day. Of course, you are welcome any time by appointment too, so please contact me if you are in the area. We have lots of new work to show you! At the same time you can take advantage of the trip to visit other Open Gardens in the Hamilton area, hike to our beautiful Webster’s Falls, drop by the Royal Botanical Gardens, or just mosey along King Street in our quaint village of Dundas, enjoying our many restaurants and shops.
Here’s our Google location: Hillcrest Studio.

We look forward to seeing you!

Lorraine

ENCHANTED WOODS  30X10″

February 2011

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

First, here’s a link to a nice interview with me on the World of Threads Festival website. This International festival is a bi-yearly event that happens in Oakville, a town not far from where I live. I’ve been participating in it for years as an exhibitor, speaker, and juror. Each year it gets better. I am getting harder and harder to please with textiles, and yet last year’s showing just blew me away!!! So if you are a textile artist I strongly recommend that you visit the event if you can, enter your work in Common Thread exhibition or keep an eye on what’s happening there (even if you’re from VERY far away)…. I have a strong feeling that this year’s festival is going to be a knockout.

Also, I will be teaching a 3-day workshop in London, Ontario this coming May, as part of the Gathering Threads conference organized by the Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild. I suggest booking early for any of their events and workshops – they are filling up fast!

OK! Down to the day’s discussion.

The Gathering Thread interview stirred up some great topics and got them buzzing around in my head. This is why I rarely turn down interviews, especially those that go beneath surface. First of all, it’s flattering that someone, anyone, might be interested in what I’ve got to say. Heck, how often does THAT happen? And the other thing is, especially with the written ones, they cause me to really think about the reasons why I feel as I feel. Most of the time, space constraints don’t allow me to put it all in the interview, so I’m going to make a list and do it here in my blog.

Why I love my technique

The most important quest for any artist is to find a medium that resonates with her vision, her abilities and her personality. I love my technique. I do.

And after a lot of thought, I believe this is why: from start to finish, there is a lot that ‘just happens’. That is to say, chance plays an important role in the finished product. For example, although I have a huge, and I mean huge, collection of fabrics, I rarely have ‘exactly’ the right colour envisioned for the piece. Or it’s there and can’t be found, in spite of the relative order of my storage system.

So what’s a girl to do? Go out and buy new materials each time? Not an option… the nearest fabric shop is a good 20 minutes’ drive and in the heat of the creative moment I am not a good risk behind the wheel. SO – I make do. Yes, I make do with what I have. And this just happens to be the most important and salient and exciting part for me: the medium itself, the fabrics I have now, become part of a ‘conversation’. I am no longer the dictator.

This way, my process begins to record where and how I am at the moment, with the materials I have, with the machines, studio and life that I’ve got. Me, and my life, not ‘just me’. By pushing it just a bit further, by using scraps that are just lying around, cutting them in a random way, throwing them on instead of carefully placing them, sewing over them in unplanned patterns and lines, letting the raw edges fray, going for BOLD rather than FUSSY… I live in the moment, turn the ego off and experience a direct connection with the muse, no longer getting in my own way.

Letting go is exhilarating. It means accepting the risk of failure. It means overcoming obstacles in new ways. It means learning to live with and embracing imperfection. It’s the ONLY way to exceed my own entrenched ideas. Plus, no problem worrying about running out of this or that. I KNOW nothing is going to impede my creative energy.

I think all life should be like that … as in art, so in life. Or so I hope. As I explore this idea in my art practice, every day, I hope snippets of ‘letting go’ will drift into my daily life. In that way, art is definitely my teacher.

I know there are all kinds of great new products out there, glues and sprays and sparkly things, tools and machines and threads and storage options… There are all kinds of ways I might be able to ‘improve’ how I work, do it better, faster, quieter, bigger…. but I resist, for all the reasons above: those ‘things’ will find their way to me if they are meant to. Otherwise, I am fine, content and free of want.

That’s all for now… It’s winter, the most beautiful of seasons. Stay warm and we’ll talk again soon.

November update

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Hello everyone,

It’s time for a quick update while we await the busy holiday season. 

Renate Min Oo and I taught two one-day Lace Papermaking workshops up at Christchurch here in Greensville on November 20-21, and they were a great success. The most fascinating part was in comparing just how different the two classes turned out to be, in the kind of experimentation, the volume of production, and the input from participants. Each group had its own strengths. I will be posting images on my Facebook Page as soon as they are out of my camera.

On the evening of December 3, you are invited to the yearly Design Hope art and music fundraiser for Hamilton Out of the Cold, that provides regular meals for our homeless population. One of my pieces will be part of a Live Auction that evening. Many excellent talented Hamilton musicians will be performing and offering a compilated CD for sale. This evening is always a good time! 


I’ll be adding images and more news shortly.


Lorraine

September update

Sunday, September 5th, 2010
 Courage  2010  24×24″

Hello friends!

Summer was wonderful, classically hot, and steamy. My cottonwoods are already turning and dropping their leaves. It’s time to let go of that lazy hazy feeling, and get back in the saddle. Cool mornings, hot porridge! Although I was working steadily through the summer, I was stricken with a terrifying eye infection in August, which took three good weeks out of my life and added a few gray hairs. But all is well at the moment and it’s catch up time.

The Dundas Studio Tour that was held on October 2-3 was huge success. In spite of terrible, and I mean truly dismal, weather, visitors flocked to our location. It was our most successful tour EVER. We’ll have to remember that for next year! :)

 A while back, I was approached by a representative for the Long Island Jewish World, Manhattan Jewish Sentinel and Rockland Jewish Tribune, asking to feature my large commission, the Seven Days of Creation, as the cover image during Rosh Hashanah.They were so pleased with the result that they have asked for more images.

  The Seven Days of Creation 2008  69×80″ 
My quilt, Luck and Skill, has been selected to be on exhibit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX from October 30 to November 7, 2010. It will be part of the Quilters’ SOS – Save our Stories exhibition. This quilt was the subject of an interview with Bernie Herman, the George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies and Folklore at the University of North Carolina in 2008. Here is the link to the interview: Luck and Skill . It is well worth reading. Sometimes I can’t believe I said all that!
 Luck and Skill   2007  30×30″
 I will be teaching a 3-day workshop, Collage with Nets, in London, Ontario, in May 2011. This will be one of the many activities associated with the major Gathering Threads Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild in London. I owe a great deal to this wonderful organization, and if you are a textile enthusiast, I am positive you will find much to see over those 4 days. Visit this link for more information as it unfolds.
That’s all for now… as always, send a note, give me a call, or come and visit. You are always welcome!
Lorraine
Early Snow #5  2010  24×12″