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!"