Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Jay Rudolph woke me up this morning to tell me that Diana Sanderson was giving away silk worm eggs. They are from Bombyx Mori moths.

I have wanted a new pet since kitty died this spring. This , however, would be hundreds of new pets requiring feeding 4 times a day. If they miss feeding they dry up and die very quickly.

I am leaving for the Maritimes in two weeks and don't think I can take them.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jeina Morosoff

Submerged Jeina Morosoff

Jeina Morosoff is a glass artist working with very biological forms.
Her glass objects resemble primitive aquatic animals or single celled beings.

Morosoff has mastered texture and form. Her objects sometimes have eye like windows that allow you to peer inside revealing internal surface. The textures have an organic and worn quality. They have a fossil like appearance.

The glass is often displayed in simple surroundings like a large pile of sand , small pebbles or salt.

Breath taking and beautiful.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bird Wings

Roman Bath mosaic floor Louvre Photo Tim Hurley 2007

Bird dreams always startle me. Superstition taught me that a dream of a bird or an actual bird in the house was a warning of a death. I had a very vivid dream last night about a little bird that flew into my room.

The bird was tiny with a grey covering of feathers but an undercoat of brilliant yellow, green and red feathers. It was like a humming bird. It was trying to fly but was only circling on the ground. One wing was out and fully extended. It was very distressed.

I tried to catch it but it became even more frenzied. I was afraid it would hurt itself. I grabbed my Indian silk scarf and tried to net it. It became trapped in the cloth. The little wing came off with the attempt at assistance. People around kept telling me to leave it alone. They were unconvincing. The bird was in pain and continued its circular dance. It kept trying to fly with great effort but one wing can't fly.

I sat and watched its unbearable struggle.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Portal Stonehenge May 2007 photo Tim Hurley

Happy Summer!

I visited Stonehenge with cousins Fiona and Dr. Janet Parrot in early May.

Fiona is an anthropologist and studied the stones for awhile. She described the standing stones as being only one aspect of the site. The site recognised by the British government is very small and focuses on the stones and not on the entire site which appears to include miles of the landscape. They "forgot" to consider the entire landscape and it's importance. The Thatcher government even ran a highway through it.

No one is sure what the stones are for but they have had many uses through time. The landscape has obvious signs of other use. There are what look to be a system of deliberate ditches. The stones themselves appear to have markings and even applied colour in some places. They have been recognized as a holy place and a place of importance for years.

Current romantic fantasy tells little of their true story except for recognition or a faded collective memory that this place was important. The Stones are breathtaking. It is now known that somehow they were brought to the plain from Welsh mountains many miles away. The contrast of the colour of the blue stone columns against the vast, fertile plain creates mystery. The columns sparkle. Sunlight catches in each opening and is almost magnified in intensity.

The Salsbury Plain is spectacular and the landscape can be seen for miles in every direction.
It is clear that there were other structures and that the landscape was used for miles. The wind, which is constant, was almost howling across the landscape when we were there.

Cows chewed grass and cud, traffic rumbled by and history freaks played ancient war games all around us. Roman gladiators, kilted men, women in Medievel garb barely distracted us at all.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I dreamt that it was my job to inspect the whitework that the Irish women were making.
They were forced to do whitework stitching to have them examine ideas around purity.
It was felt that they wouldn't be overstimulated if they worked only with white threads on linen.

Each woman was given a variety of threads, all white to stitch with. She could make choices of thickness of thread or stitch length but nothing else. She was expected to work a 9 hour day.

How could there be room for rebellion with white thread on white cloth?

I started my rounds to inspect each creation and was shocked to see that one woman had taken the threads and with energy and rage had completed a cloth that was filled with random stitches that were dense and matted. She stitched in every direction. I wondered how I could direct her.

I took her cloth and tore another in strips and gave them to her to embroider. She went at it with fury again producing the most amazing mess. She finished all the strips in record time. I took the strips from her and stitched them together with a red thread. The end result was a controlled pattern.

She was defeated and her anger had been ignored. She was rendered impotent.

I felt terrible but it was my job.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Brendan Hurley 2006

Snakes have such perfect suits. They can pull them off when they are too worn out or itchy and scuffed up. They can expand to fit no matter how much the wearer eats. They come in a fascinating array of colours and styles.

I saw these snakes at th MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY in New York City last fall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bread Pan Gardens

Mabel Adams died a few years ago when she was a few weeks from her 100th birthday. She was my amazing great grandmother. She was a powerful force in my life and the stories about her have coloured my imagination.

She was very commited to studying what the earth provided and would take me for walks as a child and have me describe the plants I saw. She taught me the names of plants in Latin , English and "Indian".

Mabel was able to live alone on her farm until she was in her nineties. She fell and required more care than her children were able to provide for her. This meant placing this dynamic and inventive woman in a nursing home. She longed to go outside and have a garden to care for. She just wanted to breath real air.

One day she managed to convince her son to bring in a bread pan full of prairie sod. It was placed on her nightstand, much to the chagrin of the staff. Everyday she cared for it and recorded what grew from the bread pan garden. Eventually she was able to describe 27 varieties of different organisms and plants.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dream Garden

Installation from the Linen Project Joanna Staniskzkis
The BCCA has a wall hanging installation made by Joanna Staniszkis that is comprised of plastic tubes stuffed with dyed fleece to create a beautiful floral work.

I dreamt of gardens being manipulated using light and tubing. Each plant was placed in a tube and allowed different amounts of light and length. Long stemed plants were allowed to grow very long before being allowed to leaf. Plants were planted in a variety of tube lengths to create a very composed and controlled garden.

Plants that are distorted are rarely very strong but the tubes allowed them strength and served as a support as well as a growing area. Through generations these plants grew until becoming dependent upon control. Without the support they withered and died.

This may be a metaphor for my medically dependent life but I like it and will plant some beans today in tubes to see what will happen.

A few years ago I saw an artist who manipulated potato eyes and created a simple weaving with them. I will try to remember who did that.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Icky Bits

Icklebits Miniature pub sick

I have a fondness for things Liliputian. I am sure that many people who are involved in the arts started out making tiny things and try to reproduce things around them but in a smaller scale.

Lots of items have held my interest for years and thought I had seen just about everything that was commercially provided for doll houses. Not so! There is a company called Icklebits from Britain that has been producing accessories for minuature pubs. You guessed it... they have miniature vomit and wet footprints walking away from it to make the little pubs more realistic.

Icklebits also has a fondness for tiny little dogs and they have wee little dog turds complete with undigested biscuits.

Maybe I can make my living producing the disgusting in miniature. I had the most uninspiring day waiting for Ryan to come and pick up his laundry. Once again I am reminded to really look around at my own environment for stimulation. I am surrounded today by crusty pots and pans, an overflowing garbage bin, towels on the floor and dirty laundry. My house work fairy has not done his job.

There is a dead fly on the window ledge that is calling for my attention. Gotta go!

See http://www.icklebits.co.uk/

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Strawberry Socials

May Day Paris 2007 photo Tim Hurley

Today we went to the Strawberry Social at the Charles Street Housing Co-operative. We attend every year since the children were tiny. It allows us to connect at least once a year with people who define a huge part of our community. The photograph albums kept from past parties have documented our collective lives.

The Strawberry Social started with a group of young, lefty hippies at Trout Lake Park. A beggar's banquet with required potluck and necessary supplies for said tribe. It moved into the house on Victoria Drive which housed the Red Star Collective. It has grown year by year as children were born. This year guests included tiny third generation attendees. Original attendees sport grey hair and are talking retirement. Some have passed away.

Many of us have taken turns running for office and there are always reluctant politicians in the mix. Two members of the Legislature and at least one city counsellor are part of the group.

The demographics have changed this year and some of the second generation are running for office on environmental and social justice platforms. We have grown and the number of young people now exceeds the old. Everyone talks about social policy and the problems and solutions.

I saw one red star in the group. Most of us have been absorbed into our communities and continue to do what we have always done...Raise Hell and Offer Alternatives. We never were co-opted. We didn't become the "other side".

We left feeling super hopeful for the world. There are other ways to do things with a little creativity and a few organic strawberries! We can't wait for next year.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Today has been spent throwing out a few years of paper. Necessary because I lost a series of files containing my Guild work. Totally humiliating and not all my fault. I have helpers who organize all this stuff. I would really rather do it myself so will occupy my weekend sorting and tossing.

I am planning a fairly large move if things go well. I need a more substantial place to work even though there was all this talk about downsizing. It is clear that the new direction is more installation based work and other are more affordable at the other side of the country.
I also want to be closer to NYC and other Eastern American cities. I need to spend regular time in England and France.

It won't be necessary to give up my studio here for awhile. My family is here and in the prairies. Some of them are portable and some aren't. My friends are scattered all over the country and in other countries around the world. Cancer made my world very small but I am feeling better for now and have really itchy feet.

My children feel differently. Chris wants to come with me to help me look but his other mom is now really sick with cancer. He and Steph are hanging close and caring for her. Dane is moving home from Winnipeg and wants to sell the house there and Bren is finishing his Masters' thesis.
Bren wants to do his PHD in the east or in England. His girlfriend Meg wants to come with me!
Tim, my sweety, wants to travel back and forth but needs to care for his elderly father. My mom wants to come back with me. So many people to consider.

I want to spend a few months alone and just work and see new things.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I am exploring the vast array of shapes and forms that pupae come in.
The strange garden I have been working on is starting to fill out.

So far I have made about thirty little silicone globes covered with sand, 20 cast wax mache scrotum like forms stitched with tiny hairs and holes burnt in, 12 paper egg shapes that are painted , dyed, burnt and rusted each with a dimensional cell-like corset, 2 hives, 10 burnt and formed polyester pupae with removable butterflys.

I have also made freeform felted and stitched pupae from lamb's batt.

Ryan and I have been exploring sounds for each creature case and Tim is building me a large "growing chamber". I am trying to get this done for the "Culture Crawl".

In the meantime Adonna's class have been growing butterflies and have saved the pupae that haven't hatched and leftovers from those that have. Silk cocoons have been promised and my research into mummies and cocoons has taken a new interest.

My studio is starting to look a bit creepy. Better outside than in!

Friday, June 1, 2007


I made a decision today to refuse further treatment and testing from the B.C. Cancer Agency.

No more tests and surgeries. No more pathology reports for the next six months. No more running this life based on extreme diagnosis and risk which is usually vastly exaggerated. No more pokes and pricks for vials of blood and starving for tests. No more medications that distort every part of me.

No more over kill.

Each year of survival increases chance for a longer life. Each intrusion now shortens it.

I am grateful for the extraordinary effort and compassionate caring. I just don't want them anymore!