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, February 28, 2010



Today is the anniversary of my oldest friendship. My friend is . fellow artist, Karen Mac Kenzie Brydon. We met when we were eleven turning twelve. Our birthdays are one week apart. We have shared many adventures through time.

I remember meeting Karen at the gym in Saint Francis High School in Calgary Alberta Canada.
We were attending a gymnastics class. My friend Lucille had convinced me to go and told me that there was a girl there who called herself Kitty. Her mom was divorced and she dressed like she thought she was somebody she wasn't. I was convinced I would hate her! Was prepared to hate her to be loyal to Lucille.

And there she was. Sitting on the high beams in jeans and a belly reveling halter top with a strange accent that turned out to be affected and genuine at the same time. She had cowboy boots and braids and she even dragged out a cigarette. She spit and swore and had long hair and an overbite. I was completely shocked by her and smitten.

She had another girl who was her best friend named Jackie Wilson. I had already been in mud throwing battles with Jackie and she made me laugh. Jackie also smoked cigarettes that she stole from her dad.

I was a well behaved but willful honour student and these two knew how to party , build duck ponds ride horses backwards and do trick riding on their bikes. They would mock me if I used important words. They read words off the cigarette package like aquafuge. But I knew what they were. I had to know them.

Turned out that "Kitty" wasn't "Kitty" but Karen and she lived in a little bungalow up the hill. Her mother was beyond glamorous and was rather like a beatnik and there was art everywhere. She had "cocktails" and let her children do what they pleased. This included cooking what they wanted , going into the cupboards by themselves and digging duck ponds in the yard.

Karen decided to move into the doghouse. No problem as long as you brush your teeth. Jackie moved in with her and I tried but there wasn't any room so I had to go home. Karen lit fires in the yard and cooked canned beans. She had a Shepard named Lassie who protected all of us.
She also had terrible allergies.

Her father was a body builder who lived in a huge house in the richer part of town and he played classical guitar. He gave me a caliper test when he was introduced to me to figure out what my height weight statistics were and decided I was a lovely girl who was fit enough for his daughter.
I was dancing all the time doing afro jazz ballet. I was also nearly the same height /I am now which is about 5 foot nine inches.

Her grandparents were even more glamorous. They lived in a little farm at the edge of town. It was not an ordinary farm but a super modern acreage that had a super modern house on it that was built from the future plans from the popular mechanics and it was covered with important art from people like Emily Carr and Lauren Harris. Her grandfather was an artist too. His name was J.D. Turner and her grandmother was the potter Grace Turner. She looked like Anais Nin.
They assumed I was worthy. They fed me Beef Wellington and Yorkshire puddings. She saved wild flowers and planted them all over the property. Some of the flowers were only survivors when she died at ninety. I loved them all with all my heart.

They nurtured my soul and my mother often fed Karen when more creative types forgot. The creative types nurtured me when my family just thought I was strange and needed punishment and reformation.

We also nurture one another through all parts of life. Through births and deaths and changing lives. Through marriage failure and crisis... through successes and creativity.

Our relationship is now 45 years old. It is old enough to go into menopause. It remains enduring and delightful.

Today we celebrated it with egg tarts and chocolate slices while listening to her grand daughter Bailey sing her baby song.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I am very touched today by Abigail Doan's blog. http://www.abigaildoan.blogspot.com

There is an image of a large grouping of knitted hats that her mother and friends knitted as helmet liners for soldiers in Afghanistan. Each helmet liner looks like a lovingly knit hat for a tiny child. They are knitted by someone caring enough to protect a soldier's head from the cold.

Each one of my babies has grown into manhood. Each is now old enough to go to war. Each one had been knitted a hat to wear when tiny. My children and I are pacifist and only go to war against unjust policy and for social justice. I know that many other mothers are dealing with their child's decision to sign up and go to war.

I have been surrounded by soldiers most of my life. My father fought in Korea, my father-in-law in the British Army in the second world war. My Great Uncle was a decorated fighter pilot. Another was a General in the American Navy and was honoured by having a military facility named after him. My grandfather's brother died from the effects of mustard gas in France. He was only eighteen.

Each one of them, to a man, told me never to send my children to war and to shoot them in the foot if they chose to go. Each one signed up as a teenager and were caught up in the glorious propaganda that surrounded the actions. Each paid a terrible toll. Each one carried guilt and had some level of post traumatic shock.

During the Vietnam war I worked as a part of a little group of people who helped provide shelter and money to people who had decided not to take part. They came to Canada to find safety and most stayed and have contributed greatly to our Canadian quality of life.

There are many mothers who have lost their children in Afghanistan. Most of them are civilian.
Their children also were made hats to protect them from the cold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

View Master

The world looks like I got a brand new View Master. Everything is back lit and in supreme colour and detail. I just keep looking at everything.

Red is not red . It is scarlet, bloody, maroon, wine, pumpkin and super heated. Blue is not blue it is cobalt, turquoise, baltic, robin's egg and indigo. Yellow is almost blinding and the new neons are almost too much to look at altogether.

The double vision is almost gone with a touch of shadowing. Focus, focus, focus.

Everything in here needs dusting or a cleaning. What I thought was a little grime ain't.

Three and one half weeks to go and I won't even need the medicine.

Life is sure something!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another New Eye!

My other new eye is now in place. The surgery was a little more difficult than the last one as there were one or two glitches. There was extra tissue in the eye that now has to be looked at with the big machines. I was concious. Was last time too but last time it didn't hurt. This time it did. They were teaching with instruments in my eye and I found it quite unnerving.
Also found it more than unnerving when the surgeon said,"Remember when I told you about unusual complications... this is what I was talking about. Quick get me her medications list and Where is that bag I wanted? I want it NOW!!!" GAHHHH!

I am home and I am not in any pain. No pain killers needed.

Opened the patch and then there was vision. Double vision. Should be gone in a day or two. But I saw the colour fuschia and it doesn't look anything like coffee! I can see both far away and up close!

I loves modern medicine. Now for healing meditation and my herbal tea.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Eye

I get my new eye or lens implant in two more days. The surgery is set and ready to go. I will be out of commission for a few days and will let you know if it worked.

I am sure it will. I will be short sited and will have almost no distance vision but the surgeon really got that I want to be able to see close up and not have hazy close up and hazy long distance. I'd rather see up close well than neither well.

I wonder what it will be like to see out of both eyes again.

Wish me luck!

Images from Double Vision- Morphos Inquiry

Double Vision -Morphos Inquiry Patricia Chauncey and Hilary Young 2010

Morphos Inquiry 2010 Wasp paper, rice paper, resin forms and stitching

Soiled Patricia Chauncey 2010 authentic Victorian slippers hand stitched, soil and copper dyed, beaded in glass globe
Tiny domes in antique Chinese box Patricia Chauncey 2010 gathered deceased insects including flys, wasps, cocoons from Monarch butterflies, silkworms larvae and clothes moths encased in resin. Box wrapped in skeleton leaf paper.

Angel Casket Patricia Chauncey 2010 pet bird molted feathers, polyester extreme process, beading, applique, cardboard box
Hair Jewelry Patricia Chauncey 2010 artist's hair lost during chemo therapy, stitching, knotting, beading, brass, Wells butterfly deceased during mating frenzy, silk, stitching, resin casting

Collection of sculptural objects Patricia Chauncey 2010 resin, silk screening, felting, stitching, heat processed felt, wasp paper, wire, beading, tyvek, acrylic paint, plastic, cast paper, painting, glass globes and antique table.

Matilda's Wrist Patricia Chauncey 2010 beading, silk screening, stitching. hand and machine embroidery, silk chiffon, pearls, antique jeweled buttons and heat processed acrylic felt
Insect Buttons Patricia Chauncey 2010 beading, natural dyed silk, phototransferred antique insect images
Rescue Kit Patricia Chauncey 2010 beading , applique, stitching, natural dyed silk, pearls, antique insect imagery photo transferred, sewing pins, molted pet bird feathers, pattern revised from antique traveller's repair kit.

Here are some of the photographs from the Double Vision Morphos Inquiry show that just finished today at Numen Gallery. I post more later. All of the photographs were done by Scott Pownall.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wonder of Fire

Will wonders never cease?

I witnessed something today that was far from expected. My friend, and former colleague, Ken Lyotier lit the Olympic Cauldron.

I have known Ken for years. He is one of my personal heroes. I first knew him as a dumpster diver, aka known as a binner, in the 1980's. He had had terrible problems with drugs and booze and other health problems. He drove everyone crazy trying to set up a recycling and refund center for bottles and cans. He was serious and accomplished his task and employed many people recycling bottles, doing alley cleaning and other ventures in Vancouver. He hired the most unemployable to do the work.He also gave emotional support to many of us feeling defeated by the anti-poverty fight in Vancouver.He could calm an agitated room and focus people. He could smile and make insults and struggles disappear for a moment.

Ken Lyotier has always been the model of humble. He has now won many awards for his community commitments. He doesn't ever seek this kind of accolade and spent time today talking about the fact that if we have energy and resources to create something as colossal as the Olympics we could redirect the same energies and people to end poverty.

Ken stood there today in front of our Mayor, Provincial Premier and our Prime Minister and the leaders from many other countries and did it! He lit a flame. Now it is up to us to figure out how to carry the torch!

I love you Ken. Thank you so very much!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Olympic Fervour

Vancouver is hosting the Olympics in a few days. The city is being re-constituted to contain the visitors and all the hoopla and imposition this brings. Roads are closing, access is barricaded, extra people are being accomodated.

Many of the routes I normally take are not available to me. Planning will have to happen. Today Celine will pick up a bag of newly burnt globes for her gallery. It will be really complicated to pick them up after tomorrow and we have decided to delay the dismantling of the Double Vision-Morphus Inquiry show at Numen. The work will be left there until after the Olympics.

I get my eye surgery in a couple weeks and am a little worried that the surgery will be cancelled. Today they are doing an ECG and blood tests to make sure I can have the surgery. I can't imagine there is any problem. The Premier has stated that he wants to keep hospital beds open for the athletes and visitors so a number of surgeries have been cancelled.

The last time I was in the studio there were about ten busloads of Olympic type people going by on Clarke Drive. Tons of police cars with full sirens accompanied them. A total assault on the ear drums. The "Drive" is full of people with maps and different languages. The restaurants are polished up. Banners and events are scheduled everywhere.

The homeless people and supporters had a little event in Grandview Park. They quietly formed a great big O by standing in formation. Lots of people I know are leaving the city.

It will be very interesting to see how things go. Most of us can't afford the very expensive tickets but there are free cultural events all over the city. I withdrew from all events I was going to show but the show at Numen.

Arts, Education and other funding has all been cut to provision these games. We could have provided for all of these for years with the cost of these events.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


There are other ways to do New Year's Resolutions.

I usually don't set new goals for myself on New Year's Day. I am usually napping or nursing a little hangover and trying not to gag at what is left of the holiday food. There is all the clean up to do for a few weeks after the mess of a holiday I am mostly reluctant to take part in. So I wait.

New Year's for me usually starts in September. I am always refreshed from the summer sun and love the autumn. I am charged up. Mid-winter is a killer in Vancouver because the sun doesn't show up often. I loved the broody weather when I moved here 35 years ago but am now less enchanted. There isn't a lot of joy in being soggy and boggy.

When I came here with my first husband, Stephen, it felt different. I didn't wear a coat for the first few years I was here because the temperature difference between Alberta and Vancouver was drastic. People shivered away here and bundled up in weather that was balmy to me. I was in heaven because the constant sprinkling rain was inspiring and the clouds amazing. I sat on the beach for hours and walked everywhere. I didn't wear a hat and had water streaming off my long hair most of the time. It felt soft and lovely.It smelled like the sea. People didn't wrinkle much. My little children used to stick their tongues out and try to catch a drink.

There were rioting raccoons on the porch last night. The compost bucket was torn into and I went out in my flannel nightie to chase them away. I opened the door in dread and was overwhelmed by the smell of the rain and the ocean. I went to the front steps and decided to sit there for awhile in the rain. It was the most delicious mist. and felt as if I had crawled out of it.

Decided not to crawl back into bed with poor sleeping Tim. The shock of my ice cold being would wake him up. I shed the soggy nightie and crawled under a slightly cold blanket on the couch. I dreamt of my old friend's Roberta Kass and Kaye Miller. They made me a pie and it was hidden in the cupboard. I was sitting in their house in Gibson's and was listening to the fire crackle. I looked at them and realized they were lost to me. The cancer had taken away many of my friends and had completely changed my life. But I thought that I wouldn't have been still enough in the past to really feel the fire.

My New Year's resolution is to love the rain again. And to light more fires.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Earth Foraging

We are all trying to make sure the Fibre in the Forest Workshops are a go!

I have worked hard to come up with new and innovative textile experiences for learners using environmentally sound and sustainable methods. The workshops called "Let Loose in the Woods" was conceived by me and Hilary Young in the last couple of years. We had always planned a series of new extreme methods for textiles using a far more environmentally gentle approach than we have in past.

Research has resulted in a few tried and true methods being altered to meet a very high standard of environmental safety and little expense.

All natural dyes will be created using common and available materials that cost next to nothing.
Most of the dyes have rarely been seen and are a result of experimentation and traditional recipes. Imagine bending over in the garden and picking up a common weed and turning it into some delicious colour. Imagine doing this on completely natural and organic fibres. Imagine pulling together a work kit from the second hand store and getting to use locally avaible materials and equipment that costs next to nothing and leaves almost no environmental foot print.

Other methods will include using the sun to create burning and cooking tools. Using dirt and compost to print on fabric. Pounding things with rocks and creating beautiful surfaces and new textures. None of the breakdown methods will use harsh chemicals at all.

We will troop through the woods and learn dye plant identification, some aboriginal and other traditional methods and create an inspiration book for future projects.

The workshop is designed to give a full three day experience that will even be more intense than our usual jam packed workshop on creating extreme textiles. All of this will be done in the beautiful forest location of Loon Lake in the Lower Mainland's gorgeous Golden Ears Park.

Hilary won't be able to give the workshop with me this time. She is having her baby soon after the workshop and will not be able to do the trekking she needs to that week. She will be giving her beautiful "Mood Board" workshop, however.

I will be assisted by Lyn Fabio. She is the dynamic artist and chef from Whitehorse, Yukon. She has taught in places like Siberia and has shown all over including Korea. Her work has been featured in FiberArts Magazine. Her work is sculpture made of natural materials including gut.
An incredibly dedicated artist who always inspires me!

There is a movement of people working together to create "slow" textiles and Eco fabrics and art. The time has come for us to get really serious about the cloth we make and use. One of my favourite artists ' Abigail Doan., has just made a presentation regarding Eco fashion at the U.N. as a response to some of the information coming out of Copenhagen. There are artists all over the world who are using natural materials like silk made from spider webs and common plant fibres. Dyes are being reintroduced and considered. Charlotte Kwon, of MAIWA, has been reintroducing a series of natural dyes in an effort to create fair trade items and help artisans and growers do resposible community economic development and recreate woman friendly environmental playing fields. What a very exciting time to be involved and to learn new skills.

I went into my yard today and identified twenty dye plants that weren't planted for that reason.
Yesterday Tim and I went to the forest and very resposibly picked up pounds of materials for sampling. All of came from areas that were going to be mowed and destroyed of from windfall.
No cost and no impact.

There is always room for new ways of using old materials and methods.

See you at the wokshop which will be held at the VGFA's 40tjh Anniversary retreat. March 29 - April 9, 2010 and come and play. There are still spaces left in many of the 18 workshops.
contact www.vgfa.org.