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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Better News

I went into the Cancer Clinic yesterday to go for my surgery consult. I met with Cyrus and my Onc-Gyn Dr. Miller. I was expecting the worst, as per usual. Didn't happen though.

The Onc-Gyn and Cyrus, the Fellow, went through my heavy and extensive file and interviewed me in detail. I climbed up on the examination table like an old tart and felt very overwhelmed.
I had been on the same table when I was sicker than this, looking at the ceiling, hearing the paper covering rustling under me. I welled up and thought that I would rather be anywhere else, like cleaning toilets, chopping wood or shovelling out a barn.

Cyrus, who was pleasant and handsome, left and came back with Onc-Gyn who said she didn't want to do surgery. She had just done a seminar that showed the changes I am experiencing. It looked like a combination of factors relating to a cancer drug I took. Another side effect. Not a fatal one. She took a biopsy of my uterine wall. Not too pleasant but tolerable. She explained every step to me, every instrument. They will call me with follow-up. I will do the hormone blockers and see if that makes me feel better and get skinnier. She will start to follow me carefully again. Again!

I forgot to ask if I could bring Cyrus home with me but remembered that it wasn't polite to ask and that any impulse like that was probably just another side effect. Oh well!

Very, very glad Tim is home.

Polly is healing. Celine had a good surgery and should be home tomorrow.

The new drug is supposed to make me sweet. Good God! I have never been sweet or meek! It is also supposed to make it easier to ignore my more lascivious nature. I hope it doesn't turn me into a perogie on a plate. I wonder what it will be like to finally retire this old "Slut for Social Justice"( a band I was once in)

Not now...I have a headache and still feel like crap.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Found in the Basement

I found a box full of my doll collection in the basement. I moved it there because I thought we were going to be painting and just left it down there.

These dolls are my favourites. I bought a dresser at an auction about thirty years ago. The dresser was part of a shipment from Scotland, In the back of a drawer were these beauties wrapped in brown paper. There is a mother. father and a daughter all dressed in their finest clothing. They are made from paper mache.

I have no idea who made them but they have provided me with inspiration for years.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Photos of Stanley Park Lichen, moss and bark. Feb. 2011 Tim Hurley

I have been huddling over my sewing machine, boiling pot and Embellisher for the last few days
creating little lumps of lichen life for the Quesnel show in the early summer. I can go for about two hours with a two hour rest before my arm decides to rule again. I pay attention to the body twitches and go for walks in the rest time.

It is transition season here. The nights are frosty but no snow or rain for days. The sky is shocking turquoise and robins squawked me awake. I love walking this time of year because things are in transition. Lazy gardeners like me left leaves out last fall and they have transformed to a leathery, rotting glory. The veins show in the leaves and faded flowers reveal all their inner workings. Dead things being pushed aside by aggressive infants wanting attention and a turn of their own.

I walked out of the house this morning and almost in unison there was a parade of middle aged women from the street to walk creaking appendages. All looked up at the sky. The sky is so beautiful after months of pouring rain and grey gloom. All were breathing deep to expel the mold we get around here in winter. Real air. Still crisp. There was a herd of young men at the coffee shop vying for places in the outside patio. Some were shivering because it is not yet warm but there they sat despite cold bums calling to one another like the horny robins. I like the way people dress this time of year. They can't decide. Woolies and optimistic spring things, clunky boots with flowered things, parkas and cut-offs.

The big spring rains will come soon. But so, again, will summer.

My time is so private right now. Tim is in Fort Nelson and the kids are all really busy. I have been enjoying this time alone. I like my own company most days. I like to nap. I like getting up in the middle of the night to work or read or sit on the stairs outside. I like CBC late at night when people from all over the world get interviewed about interesting things. I like reading a whole book and only having to stop when I need to pee or get hungry.

I thought about the book The Little Prince. He lived on a planet mostly alone except for a plant. His plant wasn't carnivorous like mine. I think I might like that. If I could take my plant. And there were birds around. And bugs. And a grocery store.

I grew up in a house crawling with people and my quest as a child was to find somewhere to be alone. Tim and I had four children collectively. My life has always been filled with people. Mostly male people. Lively and loud people.

Come to think of it...I actually miss them all.

Scott came over a couple days ago and is helping me design a web page. It should have enough whistles and pings to amuse me and will showcase my work in a more professional way. There are so many fun things to do with a web page now.

I currently have the creative hots for Nick Bantock again. I watched a film about him the other night and I dragged out his books. I had no idea I had so many of them. His ability to layer and communicate is delicious. His work is complex without looking like goop. It kicks off my imagination. I found out he lives on an island near here and that some of his work is for sale and that he has been giving workshops. I will found out where and when.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I woke up this morning virtually pain free for the first time in two months. Don't have a clue why
except for a new vitamin regime. No matter I will take it without question.

Went for a wonderful walk in the breezy, warm day. Bought some meal worms for my pitcher plant. They were live and wriggling and looking more like pets than food for a plant.

This lead me to my trauma for the day.

I approached said hungry bit of botany and tilted it's gaping maw forward to receive sustenance. I am used to feeding babies. It splashed me with the fluid held in it's deep pitcher. I gingerly pinched the worm and proceeded to drop it in. A hit and a wriggling miss! Again...same thing. I crawled around the floor to retrieve the beasties and could not locate them. Tried again. Same thing. Double loud shite!

One more try and bingo. Said worm dropped into the hole and the trauma took place. I could hear it splashing around in there! The long pitcher made an echo chamber. The splashing continued and I decided to rescue the worm but the pitcher was too narrow and long so I had to listen until the little worm perished.

I have decided my next purchase will be vegetarian vegetation.

In the meantime I have a little container of meal worms waiting to feed the carnivorous beast plant.

Arlee Barr

This work is all by Arlee Barr. I shamelessly stole the images from her blog!

One of the most creative and prolific Canadian textile artists is Arlee Barr. I have such a hard time believing we didn't hang out together in the distant past.

Arlee is the bravest thing. Her curiosity regarding textile transformation and her unbelievable work ethic are completely overwhelming. I have watched her blogs and her progress over a number of years now and often start my day reading about her delightful and completely generous and uninhibited progress. She shows everything, warts and all, and transforms creative accidents into marvels. She also shows a range of expertise and skill that is to dye for.

Her current work appears to be a magnificent series of natural printing and dyeing experiments that all look successful. They are drop to your knees beautiful.

I don't know if she sleeps or has time to eat. I just know that I rely on her beautiful work and charming writing to get on with my days.

Do yourself a big favour and put on your seat belt and check out the work on her blog http://albedoarlee.wordpress.com

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Beautiful and spiritual inspiration is provided for me each time I look at the delicate work of Ceca Georgieva . I made versions as a little girl while playing in the flower and vegetable gardens. I wrapped my dolls and pets.
I dreamed of wearing garments made from flowers and leaves.

Ceca has continued this play to sophisticated levels. Her environmentally profound work tickles all pockets of my heart.

Pounding Winter Rain

It is pouring outside. Roof pounding rain that was loud enough to wake me up a few times last night. So I am wrestling with the morning. I know I need to get out of bed but it is not very appealing out there. I had planned on getting up and scooting over to the "Drive" for some kind of caffiene concoction before I tackled more organizing and filing. No desire at all to deal with sloppy, cold rain. No huge desire to sort out income tax stuff either.

My step-sis is now out of Egypt with her little boys. They were allowed to take a small carry-on each and had to leave her home and the cats behind. She also had to leave her horses. The situation is so difficult and unpredictable that evacuations are now in progress. She doesn't know what will happen to the orphanage she is attached to or to her Egyptian friends.

Two more weeks until I am back in the Cancer Clinic. Things haven't been going very well. My testing has now shown a new tumour in my uterus, a very thickened endometrial wall and a very enlarged ovary. My free testosterone and androgen counts are over the moon high. Normal woman is 10 or so. Normal man is 40 or so. Mine range from 52 to 82. I have also been feeling very sick since the "Crawl" in November. Mostly problems with muscle pain, nausea and swelling. I spent a few weeks in a drugged stupor but have been able to cook healthy, go for walks and make some art.

Tim has dragged home some of my machines from the studio. The house is set up more art studio than it has been in years. I have just been finding it too difficult to go down to Williams Street.

Most mornings are my power time. I get up and sit down at the Embellisher and have been creating some intriguing three dimensionals and components for my Quesnel show. Gayla gave me an antique campaign chest which has all these cool drawers. They are thin, long and deep and hold my collections in a wonderful way. I can put tons of inspirational objects in a drawer, arrange them in a pleasing way and still have a table top to work on. Stuff will not get crunched by moving it all over the place.

My wonderful friend has also been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last two weeks. Double whammy! A complete shock because she is so young and the tumour is large. I have been able to share some of my experience with her. Her attitude is fabulous. This is her first rodeo and she is healthy otherwise and with a wonderful, supportive husband. For a number of reasons Vancouver has the highest survival rate in the world. Her odds are very good.

Tim is back up north where I want to be. He is surviving the more extreme part of the winter and phones obsessing about curries and stews. He is making new friends and is working impossible hours on a 21 day shift. I had planned to be there now for a few weeks but am drowning under appointments with docs and labs. I have encouraged him to stay there because the money is good and he is really thriving. He has himself to heal and needs room to do that for awhile. He comes back for one week a month and that has been great. His PSA came back at zero!!! No cancer showing anywhere. He looks great and is really regaining his vitality.

Didn't mean for this to sound like an episode of General Hospital but that is my life right now.

Do me a favour and check your boobs!

P.S. Go get the new India Flint book....To dye for!