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.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boogie Men

It is about 4:30 in the morning and which means wakefulness at an inappropriate time. This morning was cracked open by about eight males and one female screaming at each other in Spanish. I usually let it go for a little while to see what is happening. This time it just escalated and a face-off ensued which means that a weapon is probably involved. The screaming escalated and I called the cops, who arrived pronto with three paddy wagons.

The call meant I had to try and describe details about a situation I wanted to avoid.
"Screaming woman...Come quick!" "What is she wearing?" Can't see her except in shadow through the fog." 'How many people are there?" "Lots of people" "Do they have a weapon?" "Maybe" "Can you see the weapon?" "Nope" "Can you still here screaming?" "Yup" "What are they saying?" "Something in Spanish that I can't understand" "How do you know she is in trouble?" "She is screaming in distress, the he's are screaming in rage, things are getting pounded on, people sound afraid" "Nevermind the paddy wagon is here" "Stay on the line" "Still screaming" "We will need to get a statement the police will be by when they can" "Does that mean I have to stay up?"

So I wait after another adrenalin filled sleepless night and I just want to go to bed.
I wish I could sleep through this shite, but I can't. I can only sleep through some of it.
I hope they don't come back tonight.

Cocoa anyone?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I got my first surprise this morning when I opened up a facebook invitation to be friends. The invitation indicated the person was friends with some of my family members in Texas. I allowed the friend in and opened up his?her ?message. It was an image of a gun pointed into my face, a message about liberals and pictures of people doing war in Iraq. I noted to myself that I had a family member in the military in Texas and the link leads there.

Here is old news. I am likely more liberal than most people you have ever met. I call myself left wing, feminist and progressive environmentalist. I love Jews and Fags. I hate this war. I do not, however, hate you. You need help and more love. We may share blood and heritage but our ancestors fought for justice not bigotry. I challenge your idea of what traditional is. Our shared ancestor did the legal argument for Amistad. His father signed the Constitution of your country and made sure that religious freedom applied and didn't mean religious domination or fanaticism. He was a Congregationalist and a Unitarian. So, just to let you know...your family tradition doesn't include this awful bigotry. I hope you come back from this war alive. I hope your mother doesn't have to suffer for your glory. There is hope for everyone.

So...my wish for you this Christmas is that you have a chance to grow out of frightened adolescence. Your life will present you with many real monsters that you will have to fight.
Learn to fight them with your wit and intelligence. Develop your brain. Develop empathy and compassion.

Peace on Earth.

Early To Rise

I am up so incredibly early this morning because there is no sleep left in me. Just this droning tiredness. There is excitment around here because we have all been so busy trying to get through life. Tim has had extra nasty work to do this week and kids have been checking in. Everyone seems to be worried about something.

Dane comes home today and Bren flys to Kelowna to meet Megs. Stephen has taken on extra paramedic duties and Chris and Vashti are having a week long party at their house on the Island.

We decided to shut down hyper last night and just watch any old crapola on the TV. Ate plain and had turkish delight and tea and just snuggled up. The house will have to whip itself into shape. There is a tidy room waiting for Dane and the stuff is more or less picked up. No tree and no lights and nothing indicating the insanity of Christmas.

I won't do frenzy this year and have given everyone around me permission not to either.

When I was a child my Grandparents didn't give gifts. They gave a day filled with food and family. They had a little farmhouse that creaked everywhere and that was dusty and untidy.
There were old Farm Weekly magazines and books everywhere and three bedrooms.

We stacked up in the house. Each family took a bedroom. There were six in my family and six people slept in the bedroom. Christmas dinner consisted of a few children's table made from old cardboard boxes and covered with a cloth and room to eat on the stairs. We fought to eat on the stairs. You sat on a stair and used the one above you as the table. If the kid above you spilled anything it landed on your head. We had to avoid the woodstove because it burned your skin in a second. The part of the country we lived in didn't have electricity or flush toilets until the late sixties.

In the beginning we didn't really get more than one or two small gifts. I remeber my favourite Christmas. I was six. I got a doll in a cradle and one story book. The story book was a collection of stories by Hans Christien Anderson and there were black and white illustrations. I coloured them all and still have the book. My favourite was a grueling story called the "Little Mermaid".
Not the cleaned up Disney version but the real story with her feet feeling like she was stepping on sharp knives with every step she took after losing her fins and tail. She died of love at the end and disappeared in an ocean foam. So "tragicle" that I cried for a week. I learned to read on that book and on Eaton's catalogs, "Little Women" and the weekend comics from the "Star Weekly" and the Farm magazines.

One Christmas my mother or grandmother let me have the whole catalogue. I cut out every lady and collaged her and made paper dolls and sewed clothes for months.We also got boxes. Wood and cardboard. Shoe boxes were the most prized because they turned into diaramas and houses and schools.

Give children the gift of imagination. Not lots of toys. Ever noticed that they seem to be more fascinated by the boxes anyways.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Little Red Capes

I have just been out finishing up shopping for the holidays. Didn't get it all done but got inspired enough to come home and make something up for my great nieces instead of buying them.
Lovely, little red melton wool capelets with riding hoods to keep them prancy and warm!

I want to make one for everyone I know.

I am wearing a black cape this year and love how cozy it is. It always freaks out shop owners though. My honest self doesn't steal unless you count roadside rusty bits and the occassional snipping of plant material. They are worried about me because I am large and wearing a cape and see millions of items being shoved up there. I never do but am dreamy and walk around slowly seeking random inspiration and I am nearly six feet tall and that scares them.

The best thing I have seen in the last year or so is the warm crocheted collars in colours for wrapping icy necks, knees and wrists. Practical and lovely.

Still trying to chase the ghosts of Christmas past away. Tim woke up all worried about everything almost all night long. I will drug him with Baileys and hot milk tonight so I can get some sleep. Nothing else works.

Crashed into an old man today with my blind side and looked at him and realized he was a younger work buddy from a few years ago. Huh...this agey thing.

Got the rates for my new workshop and it is ginormous. How thrilling. Now I have to finish my show and figure out what is erotic about hives anyways. Other than the fact I worked as a weekend shampoo girl at fourteen for free hair cuts and scrubbed an old prostitute's BeeHive.
Her hair was so hard from hairspray that it was like washing wood. Head lice were petrified in it. She became my project because I was so fascinated and horrified by her.
She came back every week and requested me and I provided a remarkable service. She left me huge tips and gave me twenty bucks at Christmas. She also told me she had a job for me if I ever wanted it and I thought she meant that I could be her personal shampoo girl.


Quinny, who is in grade one and who worked for me at the gallery this summer sweepin' and tidyin', cut her bangs off this week. Down to the root. With pinking shears. The day before her school Christmas concert. She is thrilled with the look and says it feels like she wanted it to. "Just like cat hair!" She also went to get her ears pierced after much begging and has now got to the felt tip marker stage a few times before she takes off in terror. Not one earring hole but the apprehension is killing her. She is going to try again this week. A born textile artist to be sure.

I got my ears pierced at thirteen. I went with my friend Carole Card to give her support while she was getting pierced. We had forged notes from mothers. Forgery was a specialty of mine.
Carol asked me to sit in the chair and get mine done so she could watch. I was terrified but felt obligated and not remembering the "if your friends jump over a cliff doesn't mean you have to go first" adage. I yelped when the punch went in and Carole took off out of the Mall and down the road in horror. I had to endure the next ear puncture and tears and fork over my Christmas money. I also had to figure out how to explain it to my strict parents how it was I didn't make it to class that day and got holes in my head instead. I avoided the conversation altogether until infection ensued. Holding your hair over your ears constantly may be less than subtle body language that something is up. Carole still didn't have earrings on by high school.

My thirteen year old son paid me back in kind. He was talking to me long distance on the phone. I was working up in Fort Nelson and he was home with Tim. I was trying to maintain some level of connection. I was accused of"Long Distance Nagging".

"OwwwOwww" quietly sucked through teeth was all I heard. "What is the matter?" I asked. Not wanting to know but panic strickened. "OwwwOwww" was the response a little louder and an explanation that the needle was rammed into and caught in his ear cartiledge. The needle came from the floor and he used an old bar of soap to clean it. I nearly fainted and Tim happened on the gory scene to do a first aid rescue. Self surgery Son was an infected mess for a month.

Life presents so many creative possibilities.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Tim, my partner, says that Christmas is always like a reckoning for him and it makes him grumpy to go back over all the stuff that he is reminded of this time of year. We have both been anxious and grumpy but decided to take the bull by the horns and just get on with it!

We will get to see all of our children at some point this season. We will also get to see some good friends, have a little feast and celebrate what we have accomplished this year.

List of accomplishments

1. Had a couple of shows using new techniques.
2. Have at least one show booked in the near future.
3. Won the Top 40 for 40 years at the Textile Arts Department at Capilano University and it was unanimous!
4. Moved out on my own for a few months and ran my own life and two art galleries, learned to avoid bugs, chop wood and haul groceries for miles.
5. Made new friends in a far away place and they still call me and write.
6. Figured out how to make a few new things including a solar oven.
7. Found three places in the world I want to be besides here and have the imagination to accomplish it.
8. Stayed fairly well and fairly happy.
9. Maintained my relationship for another year.
10. Stayed sane in a crazy making situation.
11. Learned to pee in a bucket standing up.
12. Learned how to use a needle punch and an embellisher.
13. Made money on the stock market by using my own advice and instincts!
14. Kept my studio going.
15. Made new art friends and a new creative circle.
16. Learned to recognise a difficult situation before it became too bad and got out!
17. Spoke out!
18. Set up banking systems, credit systems, etc,etc, without any help from my brainy man.
19. Forgave someone I wasted my energy on and let them go!
20. Chased off a bear!!!!
21. Sent a few old things on their way.
22. Lost some weight.
23. Got stronger.
24. Walked in a forest path at night by myself.
25. Watched and listened instead of being the only one to talk.
26. Tried to be a grown-up even if it was hard and not always a success.
27. Mentored and gave advice to a young person.
28. Included tiny children in my life.
29. Confronted injustice.
30. Figured out resin, fiberglass and root systems.
31. Continued to experiment and learn.

A positive reckoning is better than the grumoy stuff. For now I am just going to cuddle up and pretend it is warm. Only eight weeks until spring!!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Inching Forward

The studio is humming with partially finished product and projects that are starting to tell a story. It seems like the harder I try the more frozen I get and keep making the same kind of experiment over and over. Obviously, something is being worked out in my skull but I have no idea what it is. This would be just fine but the show is only in a few weeks.

Piles of mess are now being sorted down to....smaller piles of mess. I would like to park everything in a box car and send it somewhere else. Paula Scott, artist friend from Wells wants some of my experiments and scraps for her wonderful clothing . Sending her a great big box for Christmas might be a good idea.

Hilary has now shown me a scan of her little baby. The kid has personality and has a nose like it's father. I also think there is a shock of red hair. A very good looking little fetus! She is now starting to show. She is also producing some tasty little textile bits. Much more detailed than the other work .

My son is coming home for the holiday for the first time in a few years. It doesn't look like any of the other kids are going to be around so we should get a good visit in. His medical stuff is starting to settle and his next set of tests should reveal the mystery. Tim's tests came back worse. We get more results on the 15th. I am just scared to go for mine for awhile and keep losing the requisitions.

I am having a challenging time using my new computer. It has a nice big screen until my new eyes come in February. I wish needles came with large screens!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Double Vision- Morphos Inquiry

Hilary and I are working on a new show at the Numen Gallery in January. It is taking all my breath right now. It is based on the stories of A.S. Byatt, Nabakov's butterfly inquiries , Karl Jung, the anniversary of Charles Darwin and...oh ya...Victorian erotic sesibilities.

Needless to say, I keep getting brain cramp.

I will give previews. Soon. In the meantime "I have seen you
Matilda, I have seen your wrist!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crawling 2009

I spent most of yesterday roaming around the East End of Vancouver peering in artists studios. It is the annual East Side Culture Crawl. I usually participate as an artist and don't have a chance to see what other people are making. Lucky me.

As usual, there were lots of artists whose work was very much expected. Not terribly innovative or original. Seeing efforts and volume was impressive but some people seem to use this as a craft fair and just pump out product.

There were some amazing exceptions , of course, like Bridget Catchpole, an amazing jeweler from the Parker Street Studios and Wendy Berry, the ceramicist from the Mergatroid Building.

I complimented Bridget Catchpole on her work after being introduced to her by Vivian Bauman, my Crawl buddy. She remembered my work from last year and offered to trade. We also decided she was a definate option for the "Creative Cluster" that Vivian wants to organize.

Wendy Berry is a wonderful ceramics artist who is in the Margatroid Building. It turns out she teaches some courses at Emily Carr. Her explorations with texture are exciting and her explorations of form even more. She is very elusive with her explanations of her work but confessed that she is " very captured" and has to keep making her little beings. Like me.

I love the Crawl because it always brings me new ideas to explore and new people to play with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Crawl

I won't be participating at the Culture Crawl this weekend for the first time in a few years. Life has been far too dramatic and I am preparing for an important show in January. Not that the Culture Crawl isn't important but energy is short.

Hilary, my studio partner is pregnant with a little "Bon Bon"! We are all thrilled for Hil and Jim.
She won't be participating either.

I haven't had a chance to see all the beautiful work displayed at the Crawl for a few years. I am going to be "Crawling" with other locals to see what is up and who is doing what.

My studio is nearly unpacked from Wells and I am now ready to let go of lots of supplies. Too much stuff stifles my creativity. Too little makes me dismantle the curtains. I have way, way too much stuff and I want new stuff, like a fume table and a new heat press and a solar oven.

If you want stuff let me know because I have lots and lots of everything.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Simple Stitches

New friend Sam has just been introduced me to the beautiful clothing designs and textile processes of Alabama Chanin. So completely delightful.

Thoughtful, organic, simplicity re-defined, and appealing to my old prairie-hippy chick sensibilities. Check out her web https://alabamachanin.com


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Will be attending SPLASH, the fundraiser for the Art's Umbrella. I have donated some work for the auction and am excited to see who else is involved.

Art's Umbrella has done such amazing things to involve Vancouver children in the arts.

I have an excuse to dress up in more than my splotchy art clothes. And I get to spend time with Celine. Just hope my work brings in something for them at the auction.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Found Books

I am busy making my share of the Thanksgiving meal. My specialty is the Tarte Tatin. Currently up to my ears in pie crust, salad makings and spanish potatoes.

My son Bren is cooking the rest of the meal at his house.

I spent the morning cruising old magazines and realize that I need to start my design file instead of packing all this crap. Last night's insomnia was the perfect time to do research for my next project. So great when everything comes together information wise. There is a connection, at least in subject, between all of my characters and their obsessions.

Most of my kids are not home this year. Steph is working, Chris and Vashti are in Golden repairing their house and Dane is recuperating in Winnipeg. Bren and Meg are cooking dinner.

Things have been leaving the house and room is appearing. Space to think. The bathroom is nearly finished . It is really lovely with the window and new floor and ginormous footed tub.
Installation is expected tomorrow. I won't climb out for a month.

I am now completely accomplished at peeing in a bucket at 20 feet and having a bath in a cup of water.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The last few weeks have been exhausting and upsetting. I arrived home from Wells. Both galleries were closed and packed up and so was the little apartment. More work than expected.
Packing up a gallery is complicated because everything has to be listed and carefully wrapped for each artist. Pick up or drop off has to be arranged to deliver work back to owners and shipping has to be done. Visits and calls to post office, credit machine people, banks, etc.

Farewells are expected when you leave a lovely place like Wells. Time is so limited when you are hundreds of miles from your home destination. You get one shot at packing the truck. No returning to pick up a few more things. Not everyone gets said goodbye to and hurt feelings result.

Arriving home has been a whole other issue. It was a complete disaster area and a construction site when I arrived. The manure hit the fan within a few days of arriving home. Tim's father developed pnuemonia and an aortic anuerysm and my son ended up in hospital with heart issues and very scary lung x-rays. My sinus cavity erupted into my tooth and emergency surgery had to happen. They have decided it might be a bigger problem and have sent me back for "explorations" regarding a potential larger issue. I wasn't allowed to fly. Tim had to leave me as I was to get to his poor father. Son had to cope with support by phone and computer.
Tim had gone for medical testing and his results came back quite scary. And an armed man was arrested under our house. Dogs, screaming man, screaming armed cops, blood, terror, etc.

Then a message about my darling Barry's death came.

Everything is now under control or in waiting stage. Not sure how to manage this level of stress but know that I will.

Yesterday I actually went into the studio. Almost all the artists have got their work back. I managed to unpack tons of boxes. Hilary showed me her incredible experiments from the summer. I sat at my little work table and put down my head. Floods of inspiration came to me. Enough for many explorations. We got in first description of our next show completed and in to the curator.

I listened to an interview with Swanee Hunt. She talked about woman in refuge camps internationally who keep going in times of disaster. She said that much to her amazement they carry on with routines and put one foot in front of the other. One step at a time.

I will finish up unpacking and prepare for life again. I am grateful today for all of this. My home, my little family, the construction disaster and creativity.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Celtic Cross and the Torah

I found out in the last hour that my very dear friend and amazing textile artist and teacher , Barry Goodman, died of cancer a month ago. I am in shock and feeling so sad that I was not here to be of help.

Barry and I had a friendship that goes back to my time at Capilano University. We made friends immediately. It was impossible not to. We were both carried away with the threads of textile creation. He was a year ahead of me and offered an incredible amount of support, information and stimulation for me at school. He was primarily a weaver and I was a surface designer. We were both carried away with more conceptual play. I was a hopeless weaver and ended up finding it very difficult to load my loom. He would come in late and patiently help me set up and correct my mistakes. All for a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie.

We left Capilano and Barry continued on to Concordia to get his M.A. and returned to teach at Vancouver Community College and to take over chairing the Weaver's Guild. He was successful and beloved.

Barry and I stayed in touch after school and sat down and tossed around ideas. He was honest enough to tell me when he found my work conceptually weak. He was honest enough to praise and respect me when it was good. He shared ideas. techniques, and struggles with me.

Barry had another side. All sides were lovely. He would not give panhandlers money. He would purchase meals in restaurants beforehand and would make up coupons and an agreement with restaurant owners that they were to feed the bearer of his coupon. The panhandler was to be able to come and go like any paying customer and no fuss was to be made except that which would normally go to a favourite customer. He preserved dignity.

Barry was also an incredible musician. He played all kinds of music but had a preference for Klezmer. His energy was gentle and very, very funny and clever.

He married Kym after he graduated from school. He took on both of her children and took his relationship with them as seriously and lovingly as he took on his relationship with Kym.

Barry's textile work is very intellectual and of spirit. He played with simple techniques like cross-stitch and told stories about the development of complex technologies and accomplished inventors, He broke down portraits into the most simple form using out of date and obsolete computer equipment. He wove Torahs. He was consistent and thoughtful.

Above my spice cabinet is a little cross stitch Barry made for me as a gift. I had done a project about my Irish Quebec family and spent time exploring Irish Montreal. The cross stitch is of the Celtic Cross that sits in my family's Catholic Church in Montreal. The Jews and the Irish Catholics lived side by side in the neighbourhood.

We all live and die. Some deaths hurt more than others. Some deaths remind us that we are here for a reason. Sometimes we are just lucky enough to have someone like Barry to help us thread our loom.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finding Ponies

I have now found part of the laundry room, living room and kitchen.

I keep reminding myself of the story about the two children who found a barn full of manure.

All I can say is that I know there is a pony under here somewhere.

Tomorrow I go find herds in the studio!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Returning To Normal

I have spent time unpacking and cleaning up after my exhausted and upset partner. He spent time at the clinic today and has discovered that he is exhausted and not very well. He is completely shocked to find out he is mortal.

I know I am mortal having faced serious illness in the past and have a tendancy to take better care of myself.

There is no bathroom in the house yet but part of the house is starting to show up as boxes unpack and construction proceeds. The hangers have been found and the washing machine is in constant use. Meals have been prepared and served and people have come over for visits.

Today I went for a walk and a little shop. Met a friend for lunch and heard good news.

New paint brushes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Home or...what is left of it. Not one room in the house is clean or even functional.
I am exhausted and completely horrified. There is a difference between construction mess and
what has happened to my house. Not one room in one area protected and safe. Nothing was covered . Nothing was cleaned.

The bathroom now has a toilet but the window is now out. The window is beautiful and so is the floor.

Clear that there is a serious problem here. If I blow up it creates a reward system. I will not be a foil in this passive aggressive dysfunction any more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dried Out

My eyes have teared up so much that I can hardly see. So hard leaving all my wonderful new friends in Wells. I am happy to be going home with the prospect of a proper bath tub and my own bed and lovely family but I will miss it here somethin' awful.

Each morning I was greeted with the mountains and the beautiful birds. Each night I go to sleep in the silence of the wild and look at sheets of stars. The water stunk. The bugs were thick but the people were lovely almost to a person. I really had a beautiful time even when it was not going well. I coped when I wasn't sure I coould. I was independant.

I didn't get much art done but have a burning brain full of ideas. I'll post lots of pictures when I get to my own computer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How Many?

How many paintbrushes and thread spools does one artist need?
Should I give stuff away? Should I save it for later? What should I bring down to the share shed at the dump?
Can I just leave it all here and run away to somewhere else?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Highlight of the Summer

Last night at dinner my friend Bill asked me what the highlight of my summer was.
I talked about my moose adventure, my bear adventures and the wildflowers.

He looked at me quizically and explained that his summer highlights were always about experiences with people.

My head spun. I am always about people and about interactions. I have four children and endless relatives. I have many friends and neighbours in need of my support. I didn't realize
how much I needed a break from my interactions with people and with social usefullness.

I have been mostly alone in my endeavor here. Not without companions. Certainly interacting with people every day. But alone in goal setting, decision making etc. I like it. I like having the time to think about moose.

The highlight of my summer, though, is also about people. The "Bogman" will stay with me for a long time. Who wouldn't relate to a tall, slender man who spent days dressing up in bog flora and some real, live fauna to make a statement about the environment at the Wells Fashion Show.

I am coming home to Vancouver next week after being gone for five months. The frost is now coming back to Wells and the season is changing. Fires are lit again in the Saint George's Gallery to keep us warm and Claire is bringing in hot cocoa and fresh biscotti.

I will miss all aspects of this place. I will miss the people here. I will miss my bus trip to Quesnel and being offered morning coffee by Mark as I wait for it. I will miss being seen as just Patricia.

The boxes are being packed and the truck home is booked.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Living in Wells is like living in an aquarium. Other gallery owners watch me come and go. They always mention when I open late or decide to close for a day for a workshop or something. I have had to close the Good Eats a few times because of construction or the overwhelming noise from musicians practise.

I am the only gallery owner in my end of town that has not operated within my own home and with a partner. I don't have a car. I walk through the middle of town to my gallery and am usually greated with comments about how late I am because I open at 10 o'clock when they open at 9:00 or so.

I have one other gallery owner who constantly phones me and leaves me a message to tell me what time it is and wonders why I am not there. Sometimes I am in the back or at the general store where my only access to the computer is. I have to run back and forth to do things like eat or go to the bathroom.

I have fantasies that other gallery owners open in their pajamas or eat toast at the desk. They have washing machines, cars and computers in their buildings.
I don't. I know other gallery owners have naps and go for showers later or walks around town when their partners help. I don't.

I had an offer of help when I came in exchange for studio space from one artist. She had offered a couple mornings a week for the right to work in the St. George's. Her stuff is there and I don't know if she works in there. I know that she has worked in the gallery once since I arrived. I also know now based on feedback from others and from direct comments and contact that she is one of my biggest critics.

I really have tried hard but have learned that I would rather do anything but keep a shop. I just want to go back home now. I like to swim in a much bigger pond than this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I have been so completely neglectful with my little blog because of business.

The Arts Wells Festival was amazing. So was Artwalk and the Auction for Island Mountain Arts.
I donated some work and the work was bid on and won by an assistant deputy in the Ministry of Culture and something or other. John Hall also called for the work after it had already sold.
I had such positive response to the work and really feel motivated to do better work in future.

Finding time to work however is really difficult. I now have at least four commisions to make and deliver. Two shows are being worked at for fall and Valentines Day.I have been able to do a workshop or two and have another one planned for this week with a woman who won me for a day at a local fundraiser.

Hilary Young 's show is now installed at the Good Eat's Gallery in Wells and it is stupendous. It is called Burnt Offerings and is a moody and poignant display of what extreme textiles look like when very finely worked. People drop when they witness them. Rather like looking through a keyhole into a very private and feminine boudoir.

The Good Eats Gallery is my favourite place to be. Having the luxury of an installation space with work from people I admire gives me reason to keep doing this. I get to live in the same space as this gorgeous work.

I have to remind myself of greater purpose when I end up feeling like a shop keeper. I am here to show artists that I love and to try to work and see how people respond to what I offer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Deluge and Downpour!!!

The Illuminaires Festival in Vancouver was nearly rained out by the sounds of it. People who were brave enough to attend in the monsoon that occured were rewarded by the sight of the Ascaphus Truei eggs collapsing. They became completely water logged according to observers and slumped under the weight of the water.

The poor organizers had to deal with the potential of fire because of the extremely dry weather in Vancouver and had prepared themselves. The fire marshall showed up and told the organizers they might have to avoid all of the electronics, fireworks and candles. The weatherman provided a great forecast and the weather decided to do it's own show. Thunder, lightening and a downpour like no one has seen in a long time.

The salmon eggs and the dark constellations survived the downpour but were only seen by a few people because most left the grounds after braving the deluge. I am waiting for pictures to be sent along. Soggy steamy pictures!!!

Planning for events is such a challenging process if they are outside. One never knows what the elements will bring.

This weekend the Wells Festival starts and Hilary and I will be giving Extreme textile workshops at the St. George's Church. Out in the grounds if the weather cooperates.
We can crowd into the church if it doesn't.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lost it and Lanterns

The Ascaphus Truei lanterns will be installed for the Illuminaires Festival of Lights this weekend at Trout Lake in Vancouver. the crew has pulled together my designs and has
now conquered the problem of lighting the things. They pulse and glow!

I can only wait for images of them now! I am so grateful for all the help people gave to help build them.

I am nearly chewed to death by Northern bugs. Bugs in clouds like shirts or socks. Masses and masses of bugs. I love it here and will have a hard time leaving this beautiful place and my beautiful new friends. Only about six weeks left until I return to Vancouver

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Installation Gallery

Having the Good Eats Gallery open in the evening has done what I hoped it would do. It has inspired meaningful conversations about the shows. Tina Ozols show Accumulations has brought in the best kind of conversation regarding the snapshots of her inheritance.

It seems that people want to talk about all the stuff they own or don't own. Most people are embarrassed by stuff and are flumoxed about what to do with the extras they own.

Every night another group of people come to talk about stuff, crap and accumulations. Some people are visibly upset and some are very self enlightened about why they have so much stuff.

I think this is my favourite show to date.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Last night I picked up Tina Ozols incredible photographs depicting her grandfather's accumulated treasures and belongings. They will be featured in the new show at the Good Eats Gallery.

Falling into the photographs was so soothing last night. I have been flying around for days and hadn't even really had a sit by myself to just be. Tina has taken the photos in a most recognizable and comfortable way. Each photo is composed to capture both light and object in a quiet way. Each object somehow recognizable and common but so poignant.

I can't wait until they are all in place.

In the meantime I dismantle and mantle all over again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Road To HELL

Well....all I can say is that my trip home was from hell!!!!

Picture a bad cold, a lost purse, locations with no restrooms, everyone with head music on a different channel, a cranky two year old behind me who had just learned to spit like a dock worker, a screaming and exhausted baby whose mom didn't help by scolding her, a gaseous octogenarian whose chair kept flipping back on my already sore knee and a little boy with Down Syndrome who repeated one or two words over and over again from Vancouver to Quesnel.

Thankfully Laurie was there to pick me up and drag me for dinner. Pasta never tasted so good.
Groceries then home.

The biggest thrill was that we got to encounter a newborn moose with her aggressive and protective momma. We were in a little, little car and the moose thought she could take us. Laurie saved the day again and was savvy enough that the moose allowed us to pass.

I arrived at the Good Eats long enough to collapse after looking around at the beautiful bog and the sunset.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What a Ball!!!

I had an absolute ball over the last two days. the workshop-work parties turned out to be very productive despite the fact I had a ferocious cold. Tons of work was accomplished as I floated around in a daze trying to keep track of what I was trying to accomplish.

The wonderkind from the Public Dreams Society turned out to be efficient and creative with work ethics as long as your arm. It was wonderful to meet with Jody, Kirsten and Rachel. They ran around and pulled together tons of work from long distance and also were the most accomplished papier machers.

Each work party had amazing artists. Cara Manning came. She worked with me during the winter at Williams St Studios. Karen Barnaby, the chef , showed up to help with a stream of other artists. Everyone brought delicious food and I had my first taste of basil since I left for the North. Fritatta, strawberries, cous cous with lemon grass and tons of nuts and fruit, muffins and cookies, Fresh berries of every kind and yumcious cherries. There was even Chinese dim sum buns and lovely things to drink and eat with cheeses and fresh pears. Chefs turned into terrific extreme textile artists and artists turned into fabulous cooks.

We worked hard and made dozens of complex lanterns for the installation for the Illuminaires Festival at Trout Lake. We made salmon eggs, ascaphus truei eggs and umbilical cords, mushrooms and cocoons. We also made stalks and stems and talked about inspiring nature and ways of working.

I felt extremely humbled by the capacities of everyone who showed up. I got to learn new things and try out old skills and pass them on. I heard about projects, grants, artist residencies and got to connect with old friends like Fay Logie and Haruko Okana.

I will talk later about how awestruck I felt while working with humble paper and glue. And about how exciting it was to play with a cadre of skills and wonderful women. Imagine that I actually get paid to do this!!!

It is now late and I have one more evening in my little Vancouver house. I leave for the bus to Wells early in the morning and I have to wash my clothes because I want to use my own washing machine and not have to hand wash or drag things up and down mountain roads to the little laundromat in Wells.

It is going to be hard to leave tomorrow but I really do love what has happened for me in Wells. I am reminded that Vancouver is my home. Wells is a place that just dances in my heart.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lakes and Lanterns

I am home in Vancouver to do a workshop with the Public Dreams Society. They have given me the honour of designing and creating a series of lantern sculptures for the beautiful Illuminaires Festival at Trout Lake. I will work with thier volunteers and staff to accomplish an installation at the lake.

Subject matter is the microscopic, the fragile and the environment around the Sea to Sky route to the Olympics. There will be a myth created about Ascaphus Truei, my favourite little tailess froggy. Rumour has it that there are dancers, a guy with a bike providing electricity through a human powered generator, and a musician playing ancient Austrailian wind instruments.

The bus trip down from Wells was glorious. The weather was neither too hot or too cold. The landscape was just beautiful. The bus driver was friendly and kind. The food wasn't even horrible.

So ,flu or not, I immerse myself in paper mache glue today. Will also show others how to rip, tear, slash and burn.

Then for cosy cuddles with my old chum Tim!!! Hot and Sour Soup sounds good.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Selling stuff

Stuff is selling!

All hung and people are showing up to both galleries.

I am learning how to do this. The bugs are really big and hungry here. I am still doing it!

Selling Stuff

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tim and Louise have come and gone and now the St. George's Gallery is officially open minus the credit card machine. The labeling still needs to be done and so does some of the P.R.

I have been struck with the most unusual but annoying problem. The people I lived with for four days at the beginning of my stay in Wells have decided to spend time doing acts of unwanted kindness? Boundary problems abound. They have repeatedly come onto the property of the Church. They planted a garden of sorts. Kinda laid down some railway ties and planted a pansy in a log, spread dirt all over and generally made a mess. They took a number of questionable objects but Church owned property, relaid the lattice in their yard and mine, changed the wood pile around, moved the lawn chairs, and stole a number of the pansies I was just in the process of either killing or planting.

I have a problem addressing the Pansy Liberation Army! The male in the partnership scares me. He has approached me asking for money and has acted completely unpredictably, apparently upset by my lack of gratefulness. When I ask him not to do things he says that I didn't. He tells me what I need to do and how to do it. He also tells me how to fit in around here.

In the meantime I have been trying to set up my gallery. It has been slow going because of delays with the powers that be. All approvals in. All machines for transactions here. Instruction being forwarded. Soon, I hope.

Cory Hardeman and Claire are now also setting up studios in the St, George's Gallery.

Tim and Louise have just left after a weekend of setting up, parties and an amazing Celtic pub night at the Well's Hotel. They hung, packed and carried and scrubbed and painted. They planned and organized and negotiated. They were most appreciated. They left leaving me with real life in Wells. Less spoiled and more lonely. Maybe a little harder than last time.

I am now a consulting artist for the Illuminaires Festival in Vancouver. I am in the midst of planning a huge lantern installation for summer, a small one for winter and a show in February at Numen. I have also been invited to consider collaborating at the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute for this fall. Feeling a little overwhelmed. Setting up galleries and doing art and planning are two very different things. Each seems to come from a completely different part of my being.

My goal was to knock myself out of my comfort zone. Accomplished. I seem to spend a lot of time being uncomfortable and awkward. I saw a stuffed moose yesterday with long gangly limbs and dissonent movement. I completely related.

My sweety came for four days and I felt normal. He left and I felt different again. He is so reassuring and kind to me. He even hand feeds me. He works hard to make this happen for me but I wonder how up to this I really am. Operating in Vancouver is so easy in contrast. Operating in New York is easy compared to this. Operating in Wells is made much easier because the people here are mostly so very lovely.

Now I must go back to the gallery and label some art. Maybe someone with cash will come by today and buy something.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dead Bugs and New Beginnings.

Naughty Peter has done it again. He always manages to do something delightful unless we are attempting to travel together. Then I am the less delightful of the two.

Naughty sent me an amazing collection of images related to slime and gooey bits from an
io9 article called The Bizarre Conciousness Of Slime Mold.) I am currently living in and running a gallery in Wells, B.C., Canada. The Good Eats Gallery and my apartment are located just before miles and miles of bog. Hence I am obsessed with nasty slimy things and am out belly crawling unless I am overcome by bear terror.

Corey Hardemen is one of the painters in my other gallery on the hill called the St. George's Gallery. She is a biologist and a painter. She also has three little children and is living in a travel trailer for the summer with her blacksmith husband, Michael. Corey and her children are kindred spirits relating to muck and goo. The children can be counted on to drag in some inspiring offal or other.

Life in Wells is going well. I am making friends of all ages and am being included in lots of activities and fun. There is a seriousness here. People are hardworking. Artists, loggers, goldminers, retired people, children and musicians all struggle together to make a living. There are also lots of dancers, actors, historians, costumers and the various people who keep Barkerville running. You make friends if people think you have a commitment to this beautiful little town. People pull together to create a little utopia of sorts. If you don't pull you don't really belong except for the season. I am learning to pull my share.

There is also a kindness here that I didn't expect. Yesterday while sending faxes in the Well's General Store the newest resident arrived. She is one and one half days old and her middle name is heaven spelled backwards. Mean and crusty looking forestry workers, a local artist, a goldminer and the shoppers all came over to greet her. "Welcome to the world and welcome to Wells little one!" How moving is that.

The other children here appear to be cherished. It isn't unusual to have a five year old deliver your sandwich at the restaurant. She is included. The children call out to you when you pass by.
There are only a dozen or so children in the school. The community garden is in the school grounds. People watch the children very carefully.

I have asked the children to tell me when they find something like a dead bird or interesting bug.
A number of them have come into the gallery and spent time looking at the low shelves that now have magnifying glasses. I have decided to set up a little children's gallery and a little play area in the St. George's.

Work is proceeding and I had 50 people in the Good Eats last night. School groups are coming through from places like Terrace, Smithers, Chilliwack and Merrit. Sometimes I run into the street and pull them in because my signage isn't very good yet. Hopefully this weekend the sign gets painted.

Island Mountain Arts is selecting applicants for the workshops this summer and also have a scholarship program. I have been asked to help select the scholarship students tomorrow. I look forward to see who is coming for the summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gallery Set Up

The Good Eats Gallery in Wells is now being officially set up for it's first show this weekend. the show will be an installation of my work called 'metamorphosis' and will feature some of my work related to cocoon and egg forms as well as a collection of textile and sculptural experiments relating to natural surface.

This is the May long weekend celebrating Queen Victoria's Birthday and the town of Bakerville is in full costume for the event. We are living in Wells and it is also celebrating but with an event to rebuild the Sunset Theatre after a snow collapse this winter.

There will be a large benefit tomorrow at the Wells Community Hall and all kinds of musicians are coming into town. The place is buzzing with energy.

Claire, Bill, Ron and Gail delivered Claire's show to Prince George yesterday and the opening is coming up shortly. More about that later.

I have been building, assembling and painting display units for the Good Eats Gallery. The final process on insurance and business set up is well under way and hopefully the credit card machines arrive eventually. Tim usually does this stuff for me and I am doing it on my own and discovering I really can. Screw drivers and drills aren't that hard.

New cadre of skills include reading directions, hammering, screwing on my own, using a level, putting together and running a projector, sign painting, hauling heavy things with a dolly, climbing ladders (no likey), filling out B.C. Government forms, and negotiating with banks. I also have the luxury of eating vegetarian most of the time. The rest of the time seems to be spent eating bacon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tourist In Your Own Town

Claire, Bill , Stevie and I worked until very late pulling together Claire's show for the Two River's Gallery in Prince George, British Columbia. My role was simple enough. I reinforced her velcro attachments to hang the work and sewed little rings on the corners of her enormous trees.

I had to go back to the Good Eats Gallery and set up a mess into a real live show for the next morning at 9:00 am. The job was done at 8:45 am. Phew.

The merchants, artists and governers of Wells showed up and gave me the best welcome. They ate a few of my cookies and poked my work with enthusiasm.

They left and I climbed into bed a little worse for wear and slept until 2:30.

Elections happen for the Province of B.C. today. I voted in an early poll last week. Even 1200 miles from home without any fuss or bother.

Today I get to assemble display cases.

The Government approved both gallery names so I can now properly register.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Claire is setting up her spectacular show at the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George this week and I am booked in to help her reinforce corners for her hanging systems.

Her work is spectacular!!! Enormous trees, personal landscapes, reflections of the natural worlds here and of her personal history. She has worked tirelessly on it for months and has created a show that has brought artists and others to tears with the moving beauty of the work.

I just feel really honored to be able to help her.

My own work will be debuted at the Chamber of Commerce Gallery Tour which is happening on Monday. The Good Eats will be the first gallery open and will also have a preview of the work for the St. George's Gallery.

Spent the last few days wrestling with insurance and bank officials. Things are rolling along but will not have interac and credit card machines for opening. Yeesh!

Gary, the owner of the St. George's Gallery, had not contacted me for weeks and I was getting very frustrated because parts of my business couldn't proceed without some information from him. Turns out that he had a very serious blood clot around the time I came up here and he ended up dying and being revived! He spent the last three weeks in hospital. Thankfully he is doing really well and has absolutely no memory of anything that happened to him. They can't find any permanent damage. His wife Sara, however, is completely traumatized.

Everything is being pulled together for opening on Monday.

Happy Mother's Day all!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Phone is Ringing

My phone is hooked up at the St. George's Gallery. They were able to hook it up from the office in Quesnel. I am so very thrilled! I am connected to the wide world again.

This morning I spent unpacking the St. George's Gallery and have now started to set up the proper working studio. I couldn't see my breath this morning and only had to put on my mits after being in there for an hour.

Mike Wallace came by and put in the new lock set for me this morning and I can now lock the Church properly. He has been really involved in setting up radio access for the community. He is looking for a transmitter to be able to set up a little radio station for the Wells area. Similar to the radio station we have in Vancouver for the ferries and tourist information but also to broadcast local programming. Any one have ideas?

Breakfast this morning at the Well's Hotel. Lorraine came in looking flustered and pink. She raises sled dogs and was feeding them when a large Grizzly bear decided to try and compete for the food. Grizzlies eat mostly dandelions this time of year. she feeds her dogs frozen meet and the sun was out and melting it. Even her dogs went quiet and she backed up quietly to get back to cabin. She lives five kilometers from here.

I have decided to take the bear aware course this week.

It is so funny people don't really fear bears that much here. I know they are lovely but not cuddly. I can negotiate my way around a knife packing junkie without a problem but have no idea what I would do if the door pushed in again.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How It Works

First you ask the local bank representative in Vancouver how you go about getting a business account for your VISA and INTERAC in a remote area. A little city actually. They, of course, say " No problem!!!!" Just go there and apply from there. So setting up the Galleries will be easy!!!!


So you take the once a week little bus into town after catching it at an ungodly hour of the morning. Then you find said bank only to discover a grumpy and discouraged employee who puts you through the grind only to tell you that they don't have any appointments today. Only after you called and they said it would be fine to drop in.

This happens after you hand over all of your identification which is refused. Why? Because your birth certificate says Quebec and it is different than other birth certificates. There is a little crinkle over the I.D. number sign which interrupts none of the information. You hand over your passport, maybe, and then you discover your B.C. Identification Card expired one week ago!

Do you have an account at the branch or with the bank...no! Because you are trying to set one up and give them your money (which is apparently of no value to them?)

You explain that the little community bus only comes in from Wells once a week and that it will be really hard to get back again before the week is out unless, of course, you walk for a week through the snow and lonely forest perhaps meeting a caribou or a wolf or bear or something.

Rules are rules and appointments are appointments even though you were told it was unlikely that you would even need one.

You wonder if it is the Quebec birth certificate which took you a whole six years to replace last time it went missing. You are , of course, protective of it because you are actually Irish Quebec and it is really hard to navigate through the French system because you were taken from Quebec before school started and you might be able to call people a "Sausage Face" in French but your written French is from high school and you skipped most classes to snog away with some cute boy or other and didn't pay attention until the FLQ crisis when you refused to speak any English and your French still consisted of "Sausage Face" or something!

Needless to say...

You left Quesnel without a bank account, had your present sweetie refuse your collect and desperate long distance call and made a sore foot from stupid boots.

Thankfully you got to have breakfast with the lovely Barbadian Plantation export ,Miss Julia, who is a far distant cousin on the Chauncey side from 1690 something. And the lovely Floyd from Big Country Printers had no problem understanding the instructions that the talented and efficient Bill Horne gave him regarding your new business card, postcard and greeting cards.

Luckily you found a coffee carafe and filter at the Sally Ann and tomorrow morning won't be so bad if you throw some cocoa in the coffee. And go back to bed and try and remember how to call the banker a "Sausage Nose"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Night Creatures

I woke up with a real start last night because the door of the Good Eats opened with a crash!
I ran over to close it and saw something on the porch but didn't have my glasses on and just don't see very well in the dark. I still have no idea what it was because I slammed the door shut but the thing started pushing at the door which wouldn't catch on the latch. I grabbed the ladder and pushed it over the door and the knob but the thing still kept pushing. I used all my strength, started yelling and shoved the big wardrobe in front of the door. Then pushed the light switch on and off!!!

It took about an hour but whatever it was growled away and tore up my compost bag.

Everyone here says it is too early for bears but that they will push doors open if they are hungry. So will big dogs, coyotes and other creatures.

What other creatures ...She asks still shaking!!!!

Bill and I spent the morning doing photographs of my work for post cards, geeting cards and business cards.

Two little bears were seen at the edge of town yesterday. Perhaps it was just "Close Encounters of the Bear Kind"!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude this morning. I have arrived in a strange place and have had mostly good experiences.

I am particularly grateful for Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne of Amazing Space Gallery in Wells. They are the kind of people everyone should have in their community. Both are highly creative and have carved a functional, creative life for themselves in a place that is an hour from even a very small city. They have managed to hold and continue to develop values that make them rather exceptional human beings.

I knew Claire and Bill by reputation in Vancouver. Bill worked at my favourite bakery, Uprising Breads. and Claire taught my one of my children a weekend arts and science course. We traveled in many of the same circles in the left, in social justice work, education activism and in the woman's community. We even share some friends. I have seen their work through time and always loved it.

I wondered where they had gone and discovered they were in Wells when I came up here to explore purchasing a gallery a few years ago. They invited me and Tim for a lovely dinner and have stayed in touch regarding Wellsian possibilities since then.

Both Claire and Bill work hard to be decent people. They work hard for a decent world. They are generous beyond belief and are really nice people. They are also
very grounded and ethical. They aren't soppy and sickly sweet because they are also truthful and speak up when it isn't popular to do so. They take real risks.

I am just starting to get to know them and they have been so generous as to share themselves with me. This touches me deeply. I don't make friends as easily as I used to. I don't even expect to make friends. It is actually hard to bother with as many people as in the past.

Today I am just really grateful that there are two people like Claire and Bill in my world.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moving On

My friends Claire, Bill and Griz, the burly hero from the Wells General Store, helped me to accomplish my move in less than 2 hours this morning. Bill hacked all the snow out of the front of the Good Eats Gallery and Claire and Bill helped me move all of my stuff either into the St. George's Gallery or into the Good Eats. Griz lent me his truck and plowed the road.

I was nearly outsmarted by an interesting passive aggressive today but I actually had the experience to recognize what was happening. I have always said that to be a good passive aggressive you have to be very clever. Witnesses always help in these circumstances.
Self report any damage and any devious plan by another can be circumvented.

Today I get to embroider. I have been invited to drink tonight but I think I would rather embroider because that is why I came here,

Now I have my own little kitchen, my own food and wine. I have heat in my room for the first time in a week. No difficult people to deal with but me. A view over the frozen bog that is so lovely it leaves me speechless.

The show at IMA was lovely and both artists dedicated part of the proceeds of sales to the local environmental work saving mountain goats.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Learning the Ways of Wells

I had a lesson yesterday in doing Wells the proper way. The guy who gave me the lesson has been here for 11 months. He refers to the people who have lived here for 14 years as newcomers.

I am moving from one location to another. My new house is at the "Good Eats". I will be in blissful aloneness. I have learned through time that signs of incompatibility can show up rather quickly and that they shouldn't be ignored.

The snow is coming down now and I haven't slept well for the last few days. I am going for a nap and then off to IMA (Island Mountain Arts). The art community here is vibrant and very active. Many people are doing beautiful work from sock knitting to incredible sculpture and painting.

Trying not to alienate people is my biggest challenge. I seem to have a knack for it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Face Plant

Well....I am here! I am in the thriving metropolis of Wells and using the General Store to make this entry.

I have learned a few things being here.

A) If you walk fast in the snow you can land on your face in four feet of snow!
B) It is important to try and remember names of people who are around. They remember your name.
C) The salute at street corners in Wells is a five fingered wave not one using the middle finger which might get you a face plant.
D) A small community can have more community involvement than a big city.
E) Don't eat yellow snow!
F) First fire takes twenty matches. Wet wood won't light no matter how blue you turn.
G) Second fire takes two matches done blindfolded with hands in mittens.
H) Extreme embroidery warms the fingers. Yeah heat guns, heat presses, and hot tools.
I) Go to the potlucks and the parties. People here cook good!
J) Everything can freeze. Every seen a solid tomatoe on a cold counter?
H) The definition of spring changes depending on where you are. Spring looks like four feet of snow, slush and cold wind to me but kids just arrived in the store wearing flip flops and shorts.

Anybody want to cuddle? Be warned I will be using you for warmth. No commitment required!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Step One, Step Two

Here are some of the steps I am taking to set up the gallery in Wells.

Step 1: Take a deep breath, pack clothing and food and then run off and drink with as many Vancouver friends as possible.
Step 2: Resist saying things like "So long suckers", because I have yet to experience 10 foot snow drifts, mosquitoes and the local grizzly bears.
Step 3: Avoid accidentally packing studio mates supplies or leaving her with the dust from behind the work tables I am absconding with.
Step 4: Avoid inviting friends to visit at the same time.
Step 5; Set up bank accounts, tax numbers, insurance, credit lines, and a guy to shovel off the church roof and install the wood stove chimney.
Step 6: Inform children and friends that I am officially in the poor house.
Step 7: Inform children and friends that I will no longer be doing their laundry.
Step 8: Learn to do a mountain yodel.
Step 9: Pack first aid kit. Include wine, matches, sex toys and a toothbrush. No razors because of frost bite.
Step 10: Remember not to yell out of car windows or show finger at the Wells traffic jam. There are less than 300 people in town.

One week and counting...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Long Johns

I went into the studio today to discover that the efficient Tina had finished forty two scarf blanks for me. It is Vivian's birthday tomorrow so I gave her a cupcake and she sewed me some very lovely kelly green long johns for Wells. I look a little bit like a gnome woman in them!

Things are starting to get a little complicated. Today I am going to try and get my tax numbers, phones etc. In the meantime nearly everything is tucked in boxes and corners as I pack for a winter, spring and summer up there in Wells.

Friday was the most lovely evening. Rod came by with new presents of large medical swabs and eye droppers for painting. He also shared some of his inspiring collections revealing other people's lives. I was left rather speechless by the beauty of such ordinary objects and his interpretation of them. He popped me into his little Smart Car and we went for a delicious and further inspiring dinner. His friend, Sam, owned the restaurant and brought us extra goodies.
Hot sake, good Viking company, and spicy food destroys any desire I have to be a moderate person.

Saturday morning was used up buying office supplies, proper warm clothing and boots. Can't say I felt well at all. Went into the studio to start ripping things apart but mostly sat and stared into my boxes of crap and art supplies. Sometimes it really is hard to figure out what is what. Luckily Rod came by not looking any worse for wear and very patiently taught me how to use the projector. He also cleaned it and changed the ancient projector bulbs. I actually learned how to use it because he just sat and waited until I finished my girly whining and soppy helplessness. Didn't buy in at all! Result being that I can now run the thing backwards and forwards.

The film strips are spectacular and so exciting for me. All kinds of operas with full costumes. All these can be hand cranked. The projector works so amazingly well and really is crafted in the most beautiful and simple way. What an incredible present!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Insuring The Works

I taught a class at Capilano University Textile Arts Program yesterday and converted a whole new group to my evil methods. We tore through samples, shared techniques and destroyed fabric to satisfy our darker textile desires.

Got to meet Mya again. She is confirmed as my practicum student. Lovely, really hardworking and creative. She has a whole cadre of skills I don't have.

I got unbelievable samples. Try a eroded and burnt silver crepe backed lame, a torched and wrapped Christmas Cardinal, smock pleated and painted poly with some poly stitching. One student painted lace and made it fry. Completely gorgeous.

Marie came from the studio to help me. She was the perfect Vanna White to my prancing pony, mega mouth routine.

Only bad part of the day was the soggy cranberry turkey wrap I gagged through at lunch.

Katyee Kilgour came and reminded me that I taught her how to burn wood with a magnifying glass when she was 12 and I was living on Pender Island. I just found one of the logs we burnt last week. She becomes the next custodian.

Favourite customer Rod and I will have dinner on Friday night and he will hopefully survive my interrogation for the next project. He is a most interesting person who has now given me hundreds of old medical slides, old opera movies and a projector. He is going to teach me how to use it and I am going to find out what and why he collects. His eye and ability to find amazing objects and people are inspiring.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Today Gary and I exchanged information, money and keys. I am now the new proprietor of the St. George's Gallery in Wells, British Columbia, Canada.

I am leaving for Wells on Easter weekend and dragging up my gallery set up team with me.

I am left without words.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wells a Go-Go

Well...I am taking over two gallery spaces in Wells and moving up there for the summer.
I will be running the Marie Nagel Gallery and the Good Eats Gallery!

The theatre was not destroyed thankfully and they will be able to rent me the gallery space next door for the summer.

First trip up is Easter Weekend.

The offer for the workshops at Wells has come through. Everything has now fallen into place.

All I have to do is hand over my savings and get a little dream in return. Oh and sublet my studio in Vancouver and a few other details of course.

Nothing like a little exuberance to get the juices pumping. Right on Brucey!

Holy Doodles!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Welling Up

I have so much to tell you!

The potluck at the Williams Street Studio was wonderful. Marie and I ended up being a little late becasue poor Tim just had a root canal. He was in quiet misery and decided not to come. Right before launching the truck down to the studio my favourite customer Rod called and has found me a bunch of medical imagery, old x-rays and films of disease. He is going to deliver them in his little Smart Car on Tuesday evening.

The potluck was lovely and enhanced by the fact that Fae made it. She is waiting now for the filming they did on her for the wonderful show called "Landscape as Muse." She came and took a Cronenberg video or two home with her and wants to dive into the medical imagery. Can think of a few others who might benefit (Arlee Barr).

The phone rang during my meeting today with Gary, the new owner of the Marie Nagle Gallery in Wells. It was from Mary Lou,the Textile Arts coordinator at Capilano College, confirming my guest teach and that a new student named Mya wants to be my practicum. Mya is great so I am thrilled. Mary Lou also informed me that I have been nominated for the Capilano College Alumni of Distinction Award for the School's fourtieth Anniversary. I was floored and very honoured. Teared up as a matter of fact.

Gary and I set terms today. He will need to talk to the renter of his house to see if I can take the top floor. If so...it is a go!

Favourite New York and World artist Abigail Doan contacted me and asked me if I might be interested in doing something with her and another artist from the Netherlands. Yup!

Celine sent me some wonderful and inspiring imagery for a little scheme we have.

Does having the flu make you a fluzy?

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I spent today in bed whining and feeling sorry for myself.

Yesterday the majority of the gigs happening with the 2010 Committee and the BC Mining Museum were cancelled or delayed. I was more than a little shocked considering I have hired people to help with the work and spent a fortune on supplies.

My show at the "Artisan" gallery in Squamish is still a go for the first week in June until the end of August. Thank God!

I got home from the shopping trip for supplies yesterday to hear that the roof on the Sunset Theatre in Wells has buckled under the heavy snow load. The Sunset Theatre is owned by the same people who bought the "Good Eats Gallery" I was going to rent for the summer. It is now being used to store stuff from the theatre. Nothing can even be discussed for weeks because they have much bigger problems than me. And I really understand.

I am so sad for them. Karen and Dave Jeffries work so hard to benefit Wells. I hope the community will give them a hand. I will see what I can do.

Obviously I need a third backup plan. Just feel too depleted to figure it out today. Best thing about blustery days is the warmth of thick comforters and hot tea. Sniff.

Tomorrow is another day. Cara and I will continue to make large cocoon bodies and bend wire and bamboo. Tomorrow night is the potluck and party at the William's Street Studio. Huge turnout is expected.

Teach next week at Capilano College and find out who my next practicum student is. I loves my practicum students.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flying Low

I got bucked out of my chair today. Spectacular landing all twisted up in a huge bucket of giggles. It was so funny and surprising that I didn't realize I actually hurt myself for about an hour.
Hot bath and tylenol seems to be all that is needed.

Luckily Hilary was silk screening the bark today so I wasn't alone. She packed me into the car and drove me home.

Things are now showing some progress. Tomorrow should see at least one finished log. Everyone will be in tomorrow.

Capilano College have asked me to teach again and a new practicum student has applied. It seems too early but it isn't. Time flys when you do.

Best part about falling is that I found my special Japanese gold powder and adhesive in the bucket I landed on. Worst part is the nasty tushy bruise!

Chewing my nails up to my elbows waiting to hear about the
Wells gig.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Tonight I had the most lovely tea with Celine, the Numen Gallery owner. Topics of conversation included...old bones and abandoned cemetaries, death ceremony and ritual, neadrathals, installations, medical disaster, mitochondrial DNA, food, the care and management of civilized men, light and illumination, Joseph Cornell, Wells, painting formats, artists statements, new music and the old Artropolis catalogue.

She brought the tea and the cookies.

The studio is really different at night. There were a lot of people there in the early evening. They filtered out as the night went on. We filtered out at 11:30.

I wait on three or four people to plan my summer. Three have now contacted me back to say offers and plans are coming shortly.

Today money flowed in from a few sources from the sale of my art! I like that just fine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Revisiting The Gold Town

I have spent the last few days following up on an opportunity to revisit the old goldmining town of Wells, B.C. A few possibilities have come to me regarding setting up a gallery there this summer. I have already applied to do a workshop at the Wells Festival.
So the last few days have been spent renegotiating a Gallery for this summer.

Everything seems to be falling into place. I have spoken with two gallery owners and they both seem amenable to renting me space from April to September. Details are being worked out.
I will know in the next few days!

It hasn't taken anytime to plan the Gallery because I had done it all two years ago and we just dragged out the old plans!

I hope that I can be up there for most of the summer. I love the people and the physical environment. It is amazing to find such a small town so cram packed with creative and active people that also fits my political way of being in the world.

This wee little place has everything including a library, orgnaic food delivery, a public bus system to Quesnel, a progressive town council and amazing people who have moved there from my own community of Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

The only downside is the 13 foot snowdrifts that are there right now. They wont even be melted if I take one of the places in April.

I spoke with Claire Kudjunic, an artist friend, and the community is already making me welcome. I am so excited!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Detail from Taiwanese Lunar Festival lantern at Cultural Olympiad
Artist Roby Swana
Photograph Tim Hurley 2009

Photo Tim Hurley 2009 Taiwanese Lantern Festival Cultural Olympiad

Detail Lantern from Taiwanese Lunar Festival Cultural Olympiad
Photgraph Tim Hurley 2009

Detail Lantern from Taiwanese Lunar Festival Cultural Olympiad
Photograph tim Hurley 2009

Detail Lantern Taiwanese Lunar Festival
Photograph Tim Hurley 2009

1310 William Street is buzzing with activity. Marie, Cara and Hilary have all been very busy and things are starting to turn into objects that are more pleasing to me.
Pictures of some of them are being taken today. I haven't been very good at posting the photos for a little while. I seem to be in either the photo zone or the embroidery zone. But not together.

Thought you might like to look at some of the details Tim and I took of the National Craft Institute's work that came to Vancouver for the Lunar Festival.

I am still not feeling great but am working on it. The work is still getting done. A gal needs her goal.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Patti Poops Out

I hit the wall today. One extra activity did it. I woke up in agony and full lymph reactivity. Everything hurts and my swelling is nasty. All I can do is feel sorry for myself .

Rebecca left today. She is a young woman but was once a child that this little "village" raised.
She has moved to England with Richard, her Oncologist boyfriend. He has stolen her from us. Spirited her away! My heart is broken. She left without saying goodbye because Richard is English and he didn't want her to cry. I, however, wanted to wail at the plane as it took off!

Rebecca is like my own, even though she has a wonderful mother who is my very close friend.
She is like my neices, who are allowed to curl up in corners of my house and rob me of my things.

Rebecca is an actress and an artist and was a wild child who I knew would work out just fine. She, of course, terrified her mother. But she held my hair from my face when the old chemo self was bent over bowls, she wiped my brow, her tiny hands patted my belly when I was pregnant with my youngest child. She made a clay portrait of me when she was five. She copied my sun hat and red peasant dress and coloured my hair sunshine yellow. She painted huge blue dots for my eyes. She said, " I was sposed to make a beautiful lady doll. I made you."

I never had daughters. I had four wonderful sons. I had Brie, Michelle, Aerin, Karen and Melissa. They are my neices. I also had Rebecca and her sister Juliet.

Parting is harder when health is unpredictable. People end up being missed more than before.

Becky baby...your village will miss you. Have the most wonderful life. This is what your village prepared you for!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Playing With Light

I spent a good part of the weekend armed with a drill. I like to make holes in things.
I like to create new doorways from one surface to another. I like machines that make noise.

I now have a slew of images of my work that show it in a way that I want. Big problem is that my computer , though fixed, has bit the dust again. They need to be posted but that requies me to send them to someone that might also get infected.

The little piles of work are starting to turn into new surfaces that can be processed further and layered again. Marie, Cara and Marie are needle felting the various projects and are doing a great job. I am pleased with the difference in texture that is offered when different people are working on the same cloth.

Step by step, inch by inch the projects are progressing. I always have to remind myself that designing isn't the only job to be done.

You can keep having thousands of great ideas but they don't translate into art unless you use your needle or brush or torch.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Puter Poop Outs

The computer decided to die a mean death in one of the most exciting weeks I have had in ages.

Three people are now working in the studio to give me a hand with the new shows. Marie Ferguson, Hilary Young and Cara Manning. All are working hard and are being productive and helpful.

This weekend and parts of last week were spent helping pull together a guest talk at Public Dreams Society for the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute on Tuesday night. Five of the Institutes Artists have been here with work to celebrate the Lunar Festival.

I had such pre-conceived ideas about what these people might be like and I could not have been more wrong. They are highly dedicated to community building, environmental art practice and developing traditional craft methods while looking forward to contemporary and unique mehtods and application. They put most craft scenes to shame with their forward thinking and world view.

The group included Roby Swana, who is a member of one of the indigenous groups from Taiwan.
She is a delightful woman. Her work involves community collaberation. She uses logs that come in from the monsoons. She changes them and fills them with things like beach glass, burns designs on them, stands them up in the sand like a new forest and lets them be returned to the tides. Some of them are enormous lanterns. She sings and uses the beautiful beaches of Taiwan like I use my garden. They belong to her and other members of the Amis tribe.

Another member of this travelling troupe is Shu-Yen Chen. Lovely, thoughtful and talented. She makes enormous lanterns that have internal rooms. The lanterns are at least 10 feet high. They are made from hand made paper that is coated in waxes and becomes impervious to the rain. She lines the insides with beautiful natural dyed cloths that are transfered with images that are meaningful to her. The work has little sucker like openings to the ground and a way for light to escape for the spirits.

Shu Wen and Roby both crawled through my studio and asked textile artists questions about my process and my work.

The other artists who came from Taiwan are also remarkable and I will write more about them later. All I know is that I would like to go to Taiwan and meet them at home.

We get to meet them tomorrow night at the Public Dreams Society Office at 6:30-9:00. Address is 141-2050 Scotia Street Vancouver (private entrance is in the alley by the recycling bins)they tehn jump on a plane and travel back home at midnight. Come tomorrow night if you are in Vancouver. They really want to know other artists. Bring your information and images for them to bring home.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Eco Goo

Hilary attended the Surface Design Association meetng last week and brought me back a flyer for this great eco-goo from the Netherlands that has lots of potenial for my three dimensional work.

It is supposed to be non toxic, fume free, environmentlly safe and cleans up with water. It is something that is being used to make outdoor textile scupltures. The product is not supposed to be frozen before worked but it is supposed to survive both heat and cold after it has been tempered and set.

Oh my crumbs!!!!!

My questions about it are related to other applications. Can it be burnt or blended with other materials. Can you print with it? Can it be used with paper and some of the other stuff I make magic with?

I will give the products name after I have tried it. Never give an endorsement without experimenting fully. I am going to feed the local dealer lunch and find out as much as I can.

I just spent $300 on basic supplies last week. Looks like I might have to use the old man's soul as collateral. Maybe I'll put the kids on E-bay? Anyone want a ready made family of 25-34 year old men? Most are working. Most cook. Only one manages to clean! Best yet...they no longer need to live at home!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Monday is workshop day with the Taiwanese group. I am making goody bags for them as we speak.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lunar Festival.

The week has been so full. Cara and Hilary are now working flat out and I am still sorting the studio and figuring out the next steps. Marie is working with me starting on Monday to help pull together some of the more practical work in exchange for skills.

Today has been spent pulling together a show package for "Red" at the Artisan Gallery.
Luckily found almost all the images of the work and am reworking the portfolio. Patching together some older artists statements because they still aply to this work. This can be more fun than I thought.

Cara stitched stitched a huge piece of bark coloured poly into a huge piece of pleats. It took her two solid days of hand stitching. I can hardly bear to burn it. We figured out how to stitch the turkey fan mushrooms. Hilary painted the transfer dye sheets and they work great for background, additional colour and varigation. I sampled the first piece in ivory, smoky grey and rust on both organza and a thick poly satin. It burnt beautifully and is potential birch bark.

Cara helped me figue out a weighted support for the ten foot works. I showed it to Tim and he can build it. She also showed me how to do joins for the skeleton. I have decided on the skeleton spine structures. easy peasy and fun.

Next week the National Taiwanese Craft Institue are coming for a studio visit and skills exchange. Five instructors. Two hours. They are here for the Lunar Festival and want to collaborate with other artists. They make extremely complex and animated lanterns and light sculptures.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happening Fast

This week has felt like a tornado. The work for the new shows is now started, support staff have been hired and people have come in to help me organize the studio.

Hilary and I met to figure out the time frames. We have had deadlines since day one. Maggie Manning came and helped me organize stuff in the studio as a gift. Her daughter Cara, starts working with us on Tuesday.

Hilary breezes through tasks. I give her a task and she figures out how to do it better and more efficiently. She cut out my designs and templates for lichen. First the patterns are cut out of hard paper and then ironed on to freezer paper. She made little templates out of tin. There are six patterns in different sizes that are interchangeable for an almost endless variety of construction possibilities. I am going to sample them on a moss green velvet on a heat altered polyester.

Cara is going to come in an make skeletons for larger sculptural pieces. She has a background in sculpture and jewelry and she wants to learn more about textiles.

I am pleased with the energy created by working with others in the space. I will need to become a little less social. Less talking and more work. Sounds like my old report card from school!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Woodpeckers and Sap Suckers

The most extraordinary natural phenomenon witnessed is the birch trees woodpeckers use for storage and sustenance. They drill holes in the silver bark. This leaves black pits. The black pits are created in a very linear fashion all over the tree. Each black pit is either planted with another seed or is left exposed to release blood red sap from the tree's core. The woodpeckers are coloured in exactly the same way the trees are.

Today Hilary and I are meeting to figure out a work plan for the next two months. I have been invited to take part in a number of shows that will be happening in galleries and lodges through the Sea to Sky Corridor.

The first set of photographs were sent to the curator this morning. They will be used for a series of digital projections by 9 artists to be shown on the walls of Callahan Lodge in a continuous and repeating loop. I had to work out a detailed artists statement relating to this new series of work. A more general one needs to be worked out to describe this series of work.I'd rather be doing the work than writing statements. They always feel extraneous to what I am trying to accomplish. An over explanation. Wouldn't it be nice if the work could just be named one, two or three and left to stand alone? Celine writes the best curatorial statement. Peter writes the best artist statement. I seem to get too juicy, flowery and wordy.

I am now working on a series of shows and workshops for the coming months. A number of these are collaborations. All with people I want to work with. Hilary, Krisztina, Vivian, Chris and Celine. Rushing anxiety hit me last night and Tim bore the brunt of it. Today I will work on plans and calendars and get people to help me. I can do this a little chunk at a time without having to resort to adrenalin rushes.

Now time to make my lunch, have a shower and discharge some moss green velvet.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Scar 2008 Photo Tim Hurley and Patricia Chauncey

I am working full out fast. My deadline for submitting photos and work to two of my new shows has been upped to January 7th and January 20th. That means that I have to get my written materials and photographs mailed three days from now. 15 days early for one and a month early for the next one.

All I can say is all hands on deck@ the William's Street Studio starting tomorrow!

Sea to Sky here I come!

Can you say: "No rest for the wicked!"?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bonne Annee

Bonne Annee tout le monde! Happy New Year to everyone!