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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Bed

Back to bed for the day. Cold room, clean sheets, warm blanky, tired me.
Engines down!

Crawling Day 3


Results were profitable, invigorating and inspiring.

I talked, talked and talked. I also listened.

Most people engaged in play with me and used the magnifying glasses, climbed under the tables and into the boxes. They let me be an art carney without insult or injury. They gave feedback, praise and crits. Some cried, lots laughed, some sat and rested their weary feet. But they engaged!

Favourite viewers included dear friends who fed and watered me, a tiny perfectly formed male muscle man, a little girl who took over my lines and acted as tour guide, a woman is delivering a bag of snake skin sheddings, Sir who gave me false teeth molds, a guy who concocted a 60's memory of me and him in places I never was and the beautiful woman going through breast cancer treatment who just got it all.

The Eastside Culture Crawl was so busy this year that all the brochures and cards were handed out. Money got made, new contacts for exciting opportunities like land installations and film projects, and a play date in Seattle with some artists doing stuff I want to learn.

I couldn't get to everyone and didn't recognize everyone who I knew. What shocked me was the number of people who say they read this little blog.

Now up with that post adrenalin show insomnia, Tim is home safe and sound. The house looks like an art bomb exploded in it and life goes on.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crawling Day 2

Another successful day at the Crawl completed. Met wonderful people. Had wonderful responses. And made a little money.

So far a completely productive experience.

Went for dinner with friends and had fun.

Exhausted and will see how it goes tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I am in my studio all weekend if you are looking for me. It is now show time!

Come to the Eastside Culture Crawl and see over 300 open studios in East End Vancouver.

I am located at the corner of William Street and Clark Drive in the William Clark Studio 1310 William Street in studio 13. Will be there all weekend. Demonstrations, display and sale. You can also have access to my sample books, inspirational materials and library. And me!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wonderful friends

Wonderful friends showed up today and put in blood sweat and tears to help with the studio set up for the Crawl. Kara and Maggie arrived before I did and humped boxes and trunks and looms to allow for the walls to be constructed. Kara was up and down ladders. Maggie and Kara moved everything into place to allow set-up tonight. I was very drugged and fairly useless except for the directions which they happily responded to. My son Bren arrived with supper and fed Vivian and I. Derrick and Ashley showed up and with Bren put up walls and hung heavy pieces. Megan showed up after an exhausting class and pitched in. 3/4 done and two days til deadline.

Tomorrow Vivian helps with the lighting, small works and light tables.

I hope I can finally sleep tonight. The drugs have nearly worn off.

It should look like a little gallery by tomorrow night. Price tags, artists statements and signs should be hung tomorrow or Friday morning. I might even have time to finish a few more pieces
and the new C.V.

Looking forward to the weekend.

Life Boat?

Snow. two studio show no shows, up all night because of resulting drug side effects from medical test, and a bad attitude. Good thing I have a great kid and a lovely friend or two,

Now have slightly lowered expectation for the "East Side Culture Crawl" as long as they don't close the roads. The Die Hards will come and I will give them a show!

Chocolate? Baileys? A life boat?

So I woman the long johns and extra hats , mits and scarves and do the best I can.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Need A Jig For My Whats-It!

I need a jig for my whatsit. There is so much assembly and construction before a show.
Tim has made me some great jigs to help assemble frames. display tables etc but he has usually done the asembly, He won't be here until the last day of the Crawl. It occured to me that a series of photo's need to be taken to document all his ingenous processes.

I spent the morning in the medical lab getting tons of new tests done. I have to be there again before 7>30 a,m, Seven vile vials of dark venous blood today, Surrounded by people threatening to cough up the cat. It would be so much healthier to separate the contagious from the non=contagious chronics, Today I am a cranky chronic with not enough blood or coffee,

The person who was going to share my studio can't come so some old work will be hung up.

Burnt for hours last night. Have a permanent dent in my face from the mask. Going into the studio today to pick up my sewing machine and heat gun.

Megan has designed and printed me a beautiful new business card which should be back from the printers in the next day or so, Used photographs from a trip to Tacoma where we found a crumbling wall at the edge of a parking lot that just happened to have layers of crumbling paint and old plaster cloth behind it,

Today is my last production day. After this it is set up and finishing.

Looking forward to the weekend and all the crowds attending the Culture Crawl. Exciting because thousands show up.

Weather report. Snow expected - below normal temperatures. Tim is now in -29 in Fort Nelson. the winds come up and it is much colder than that. Bundle up and come warm up in my studio. #13 1310 William Street William Clark Studios.

More artists are showing this year and new artists are opening studios at William Clark.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Attended Jane Kenyon's opening the other day at Elliot Louis Gallery and was so happy to see her so radiant, healthy and happy. Her work has become remarkable, intense and thoughtful. You can view her work in the current issue of Fiberarts Magazine.

She has been playing with imagery using mineral surfaces and shattering. Also playing with images of rainy, graffiti covered walls.

Jane Kenyon is my personal mentor regarding work ethic. She is a powerhouse and even spends weeks mounting her work so that it pleases her. I think the way she creates a grid to mount the work equals the amount of work most people put into their most complex embroideries. The entire embroidery is made from thread she embroiders, no background cloth, no backing just stitches.

I was blown out of the water with her current work. The effort, the design, the colour! All beautiful.

I turned to talk to Penny Parry, an old political friend, who is now the Chair of the B.C. Craft Association and overheard Jane say that she owned one of my works and kept in her studio for inspiration. So thrilled to hear that.

There is a great video showing Jane and her process on the Elliot Louis Gallery website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Safety First

I write rather cavalierly about burning things but I don't do this really. I melt things. I do it with great caution because it is a dangerous and toxic way of making art. I am armed when I do it.
Tools need to be mastered . Safe environments need to be created.

The unpredictable end result is what the goal is. Erosion, destruction, malformation create the surfaces that are desirable for what I am trying to communicate. Life and challenge. Frailty. Survival. Extreme experience. But it is not a cigar but a picture of a cigar. To mangle a great quote.

I work in a very safe way. Ventilation through fans and fresh air. Masks that filter smoke and chemical fumes. Surfaces that don't whoosh up in smoke when they are used for melting with tools like pyrography tools, heat guns, chemicals and heat presses. I rarely use tools like candles or open flames because they are even more unpredictable than the controlled tools I use.

In truth fire terrifies me. I am a fanatic about working smoke alarms, clean fireplaces and wood stoves, nothing near the water heater and clean gas ranges. Candles are never left unattended

My younger brother was seriously burned by an unattended fire when he was five years old. He was in hospital for over a year and we weren't even sure he would live for at least four months. The other children in the family could only visit him through a window of the Alberta Children's Hospital during that time. He did survive, grew up married and had children. He has had a successful career in construction and ended up looking very much like Robert Redford. We were all very much marked by this small fire for the rest of our lives.

Please be safe if you are working with extreme textiles. Fire hurts people and destroys homes and lives. Do this beautiful surface technique but have respect for it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

List of Don'ts

I am fluish. I get fluish because I stress about deadlines and do silly things to make the deadline more complicated. I have spent a lot of time patting my back and encouraging myself with praise and positive thinking but I am sick and still have a deadline. I have decided to make the flu unwelcome. A good ass kick will now happen. A list of don'ts might also work.

1. Don't go near the whiskey. The last thing I need is a hangover or any more challenges threading a needle.

2. Don't turn on the computer more than once for fifteen minutes in the morning and once for fifteen minutes at night.

3. Don't offer anyone help with their situation when mine is under water.

4. Don't answer the phone until at least five things are done.

5. Don't close the window. Fresh air will do wonders.

6. Don't tell anyone about what projects have been accomplished until they are completed.

7. Don't panic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Bury Our Own

Sandy Cameron died a few weeks ago and there was a celebration of his remarkable life today.
He had been my friend and a mentor for more than twenty years but there were things I didn't know about him. Like that his name was Clive.

He was an activist in the Downtown East Side and worked hard for social justice. Not like most people who work for social justice but with passion and commitment like Gandhi or Buddha.
He dedicated his life to making this world a more livable place for people who are disenfranchised and left without.

His life was useful and meaningful to the end and remained useful today as people discussed and recommitted to making a change in something.

He was a poet who encouraged others to write. He once published one of my poems without my permission or knowledge. He encouraged amazing writers like Bud Osborn and Sheila Baxter.
He taught people to read in the park and in the rain.

He encouraged others to action and healing. He honestly believed that people made poor choices because they needed more information. He remained almost innocent to the flaws of others and just encouraged them with his absolute wealth of information.

He was soft spoken, gentle, well educated and intelligent. He had a rare analysis that never rested. He shared. His beautiful sister said he wouldn't eat a treat as a child unless you had one too. Sandy recognised the pain of others and made things less painful.

I was lucky enough to breath his air and inspiration. I worked with his perfect life partner, Jean Swanson, for more than ten years of my life. I relied on his information for any justice fight I was ever involved with. His support and analysis let us be successful enough to create things like food programs for all of the hungry school children in B.C.

Members of the Saanich Nation showed up today for his service. They sang three songs and played skin drums. Children sang for him in love. Men and women wept and sang solidarity songs. People touched who hadn't touched in years. The Carnegie Auditorium was full. So was the Auxiliary room and out to the street.

He once told me he didn't get me at all. He looked at my art work and said that "Of course...you are an artist and a poet. Please make art!" I often wonder if I would have if he hadn't acknowledged me. Given permission to do art. To write poetry. To swear out loud at injustice.

Sandy "Clive" Cameron lived a good life. His quiet presence will be missed, but his goodness was so contagious that it will live on in the amazing community that is the DTES.

"My life is my message." Gandhi

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Breast Bones

4 of 5 Eva Hesse

Tim and I travelled to Toronto to visit his family and his ninety six year old father. It was one of those bittersweet visits where you understand there won't be many more visits like it.

I saw a beautiful cardinal, a flock of wild turkeys and an albino squirrel. Also saw a snapping turtle drag trail out of the pond at brother Roly's house.

A comfortable flight both there and back.

We spent Saturday in the new Art Gallery of Ontario. The Henry Moore collection from the Tate was there and so was a series of work from Eva Hesse and Betty Goodwin's journals. I leaned forward to touch one of the Eva Hesse paper sculptures because I "forgot" and the guards came flying down from the ceiling to make me stop touching. Don't they know that textile artists touch? I did this once before in the Museum of Erotic Art in New York. Naughty Peter practically swatted my hand when I reached out to touch an original sex robot because the form was so well worked and sensitive. I will have to wear strait jackets or a restraint device next time I visit a show.

Eva Hesse was unfamiliar to me before I saw the show. I have no idea why. Her work was so comfortable and familiar. It makes me remember why I experiment with form and material. It reminds me what is important about explored repetition. Simplicity is beautiful. Fundamental and minimal are moving and sensual.

I had no idea that Henry Moore was so concerned with surface. Each sculpture used surface technique to reflect and create shadow and texture. Inside, outside, touch, reflection all important. I was intrigued with the marks made by the tools and am convinced these marks were enhanced to add further interest.

Betty Goodwin was so responsible with her documentation. She carefully considered all aspects of her work and kept track of many of her thoughts in little complete journals. Hundreds of journals. Why do we feel so intrigued by reading what artists have written? My journals and sketchbooks are different and not consistent. They are sometimes scribbled on old flyers and napkins, in report margins. I have tried to be disciplined by bringing sketchbooks with me or organizing time to spend time with them. Instead they are taped together or put in boxes all jumbly bumbly. So many of my sketchbooks are lovely for the first quarter and then filled with grocery lists or appointment times that I forget for the rest.

Looking at the beautiful journals of Henry Moore or Betty Goodwin reminded me of the importance of documentation for my own work.

I intended to go to the Textile Museum in Toronto. There was only time to enjoy the AGO.
Toronto needs another visit.

The old breast bone got twisted while hauling my luggage. Youchh! Might have to get taped up if not healed by tomorrow. Ice seems to work.