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.

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.