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, May 28, 2011

Life and Death Happens

Priorities can change so quickly. This morning everyone is frantic and loading the show. Were planning on leaving soon for Quesnel. But things happen.

Late this afternoon Tim's father died. He was 97 years old and went down for his nap and didn't wake up. So strange to think someone so very vital and exciting in life would just quietly slip away.

He did all those things that good fathers do and good grandfathers. He loved his offspring fiercely and raised them to be good men. He taught them what he knew about so many things. He taught them vitality and survival. And to be loving. He set up a life to let them thrive and succeed.

Tim and the kids want me to set up the show and go to Quesnel. I feel very ambivalent. Brendan will drive me. We will leave the car and the art and then fly to Toronto and meet everyone there. This will kill me. So much to do but I need to take time to breath out and just get on with it.

And toast the amazing man with a cap full of Bell's whiskey. The only stuff he would ever drink.

George's secret to vitality into your 90's. Porridge in the mornin' and whiskey and good love at night!
Whistle like a bird every day and never forget who you are and where you are from!

Now on your way then! "Bye for now".

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finishing and Packing Up

Completely sick and nasty all week. But very productive.

Tim arrived back home from Toronto last night and has checklists in hand. He is up with the birds as I stagger around looking for my fingers and feet.
The proverbial Lark and Night Owl thing going on here. He is so shockingly chipper. Think I'll put him in the yard to finish the last bit of framing.

Still have three and one half days until leaving for Quesnel. Will be finished and am pleased enough.
Only bringing a few things that have been shown before. Never seen up North.

Elizabeth Waldorf has asked for an installation wall. I love doing them with my shows. A combination of inspiring objects and samples I make. I like playing with shadows and light. I like pinning little things to display walls with tiny pearl pins. My studio is full of walls and little boxes and bowls of tiny things.

This show is made up of little collections in cabinets. All with a very soft palette. So quiet considering how it is all made.

The workshop has been changed to breakdown day at the end of the month.

Now all I have to do is wrap it up and get up North and enjoy. A number of Cariboo Wells Quesnel friends are also doing openings. Mine first. Paula Scott, Caroline Anders, the Island Mountain Arts Show and Laurie Landry is opening Cartier and Bailey at the Sunset Theatre.

Will also be looking at a farm near Quesnel and a tiny house in Wells to finally set up part of my roots.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Naming It

Pricing and naming my art is difficult. Like making decisions about things like lighting and hanging appliances. I may be obsessive in the work and like to consider an environment for feel but that is about as detailed as it gets. Just not a detail person.

This upsets the more precise around me. It is not intentional or an act of passive cruelty. It is just that I don't give a rat's ass. I trust that people who are curators have a visual sense and a design plan and that they are pretty good at this. I need to be involved in the overall decision but micro-managing seems a little ridiculous.

I want an element of surprise when the show is set up. I like that someone else is involved in the environmental aspect of the work.

So naming is one of those things that is difficult. Either names are too formal or fall into the Newfy Irish melodramatic tendency. Sometimes there is a story to be told in names. They contribute to the narrative of the work or series or body of work.

Eva Hesse had her work titled by numbers as have others. That works but conflicts with the old math innumeracy. Give it a number and it will be forgotten in seconds.

So I am sitting here this afternoon with a ball of dried gut that is part of an installation. Name? Ball of gut?

It is going to be a long afternoon!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Preview for Evolution - Hive, Rust and Bone

Patricia Chauncey May 2011 Click on image for more detail

This is just a taste of the work to be installed in the Quesnel Art Gallery
These are mostly components for a much larger collection of series relating to the beautiful natural environment in the Cariboo.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Anyone who thinks being an artist means you don't work hard doesn't have a clue.

Today after working past midnight the previous evening, I was woken by a curator and we then designed a show for an hour. This will now include follow up materials, dimensions, samples, artist statements, CV's, etc.

Before coffee I had called another curator and sent off personal and work photographs, a show description and a listing of people I contacted to put up show posters. I reviewed a poster design and checked in with another arts organization in the area. Coffee, interruption by my partner and son, off to the post office to mail a sample package. Back home and jumped into a quick shower before looking at the procedure for an award I was nominated for. All of the above work required plus some to describe my work, self and process again. Different take for every grant and award. All of this also happens when people ask for donations.

Sat and designed the lighting and floor pattern for my shadow cabinets which need to be reworked in every gallery.

Quick lunch and down to art. Blanked until faced with my sketchbook. Scrapped and cleaned brushes, cut fabric, washed it, prepared surface for silk screening, silk screened, hung to dry. Ironed and frayed and started to burn after putting on safety gear.
Day half finished.

People drop by because they know I am home. I love them but I have to get them out the door so work can get done. I am really busy. Really busy. I miss playing with my friends like anyone working hard.

When I finish the next show there are two more in process. I just found out that there might be a film done of one of them. That will also take planning and meetings.

The work I do is physical and sometimes dangerous. I have to plan work spaces and be precise and clean up after myself. I use my imagination. I research every project sometimes to the extreme. A total information nerd.

I also have lots of fun.

This ain't work for the cowardly or lazy. It just won't go anywhere if you are. Lots of time it doesn't go anywhere if you aren't. The only reason to do this is because you love it and don't mind living with the lowest financial renumeration of any career. Keep going and that might change... But love it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Photographs of Patricia Chauncey taken May 17, 2011 Saint Tim Hurley

So this is me. 58 years old. Taken this afternoon. A little weary from wear. Have most of my teeth, a little grey hair and am amazingly still standing up-right!

I hate getting my picture taken. Have always felt like it was a complete soul sucking experience. Fight and flight response develops every single time.

Tim dragged me into the yard kicking and biting and made me do it today. I am still sick from the medication and have also got the flu. All deadlines are looming and I don't have a minute to breath. I am not a nice woman. But I needed some photos. He bet me an expensive dinner I wouldn't stay put long enough to do it. He also bet I wouldn't post them.
I always hate my pictures. Vanity aside... Victory is mine! Fair warning... Never bet or dare me.

He took my pictures, made me eat a delicious Middle Eastern lunch, tidied up and made me tea. It is really nice to live with Saint Tim. Much better than when he is thousands of miles away.

Big hugs and hellos to the people who are checking in from the SWC High School Reunion.
I wish I was able to be there. Imagine. Hopefully have left a river of scandal behind me. Still a hippie chick at heart! Just don't smoke in the 3rd floor bathroom anymore.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Still drowning under components. Had a difficult day today. Still dealing with nausea and the effects of this new medication and trying to work through it.

A wobbly self image day today. Topped off with information I wasn't expecting to hear regarding one of my workshops and low registration. Will try and keep this in perspective.
Lots of galleries and artists are struggling this year.

I do this work because I love it. Not for anyone else. I have always done it and I will for as long as I am able in this life.

After these shows are finished I need to evaluate very carefully what direction to take next. A little hiatus and a way to re-fuel. My energy and health are important in my ability to create. I am affected by the people around me and it has been a difficult year. I am not in crisis, far from it, but there is a more mature way to work.

Back to it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Had to share. I have been nominated for an award for the arts and got the letter nominating me a few minutes ago. Still in full howl!

This is the introduction.

"As an established fibre and textile artist,mentor and teacher. I hope Patricia will be considered to recieve a whole lot of money for all her innovative creative ideas that push boundaries and blow the ass off of every quilty old lady craft project out there. There are no ducks with bows here!"

I am honoured...I think! Will let you know how it goes.

Source will be revealed at a later date. A complete renegade no doubt!


Get to celebrate with the Northern Adventurer!

Rules established in the house regarding moving one single thing or giving me instructions. Poor Tim has no idea how creativity has manifested this time around. He is such a brave soul and really is capable of fitting in anywhere I am working. Kudos to the rare man or woman who can live with an artist. Even part time like we do.

Now need to go stir my concoctions and try to make a place at the table so he can sit down and eat and make phone calls. Maybe...he just might go into the office. They will be really nice to him there. He really needs to consider what might happen when he books home a week earlier than expected. I honestly can't make this go any faster.

Time to move back into the studio!!!!! I now have help and a home for 1 loom and 1 drafting table.

Listening to the Ducks and eating gomae.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perilous Dancing

Resurrection 2005 Patricia Chauncey silk, photograph, dye, hand tinted, painted, image transfer, stitching, silicone, pyrography 1 of a series of 12 works.

I am interested in human interaction and connection. The most compelling of these connections are darker and hidden from sight. Secrets.

I read the personal columns to reveal this energy. I am a voyeur to the ordinary. I have never had desire or need to respond.

Most people, have simple desire for companionship and sunset walks on the beach.
They are sweet and light and lonely. They reveal their anatomical dimensions and offer an evening of romantic promise. Or a life time of the ordinary.

Deeply touching in the lack of originality and real passion.

Some of the work I make is about erotic interaction.

"Hive" is made from handmade paper that I recycle from erotic novels and pornography. It is dyed and soaked in things like wine and scented oils. It is built up through many layers and mixed with glues and resins to resemble amber and honey. It is printed and branded with images from nature related to life force. Objects are hidden in pockets. My hair. Stained silk. Tiny erotic drawings.

"Soiled" is a tiny pair of Victorian dancing slippers. I made them for the Double Vision-Morphus Inquiry show and was inspired by the A.S.Byatt's story used in the film "Angels and Insects". They are made from lingerie silk and dyed with ammonia and pennies. There is an erotic poem in the lining of the right shoe. Hidden from sight.

I have been working on a series for a few years based on marks left on a man I know who is a dedicated sexual submissive. I once documented the interactions between him and his partners for nearly a year. I am not one of them. I find this very complex and distressing so it will be awhile before the work will be shown.

Today there was an personal ad that, after a lifetime of reading, provided inspiration for my creative urge.

Here is the ad.

"The Perilous Dance In The Darkness"

"I shot awake from a dream. Aside from a myriad of other seemingly unrelated turns of event, this dream consisted of me walking quite a distance with two fox like animals with the tenacity of badgers clinging to my legs. I save a baby bird from their clutches, the fact of which pleased them not in the least. They said that I needed to let nature take its course. Yes they were talking badgeresque foxes. You know, when they invent a video recorder for dreams , I'll be the first in line.

However, it did get me to thinking. About a lot of things. That we can't deny who we are. That nature, while beautiful ,is rife with cruelty. That people, even those that put their limbs in peril for a baby bird, also have sides that we prefer sometimes not to acknowledge. That I am a dichotomy seeking a dichotomy. She is a confident, capable and creative woman with a little girl's vulnerability...she possesses grace and goodness that belie hedonistic desires which veer into a realm most don't understand, a radiant light which is the heat of it's most inner core, yearns to dance perilously in the darkness...I need to go back to bed. I hope the angry little carnivores in the forest attack my sleeping sub conscious. There is a sexy, intelligent sub conscious and reading my words. And I hope she will write and share part of her dichotomous self as she ponders the dance."

Oh my ...

Friday, May 13, 2011


Baby bison teeth from family ranch
Altered velvet, printed devore, mineral and natural dye, scorchingHarvested wasp paper
Printed and scorched felt salmon bones

All work done or collected by me.

Not feeling well. My medication has been tripled in the last few days and not sure it will work. I spent the day fighting nausea and upset. A productive day despite this. Get really tired of obstacles.

Tonight should be better.

A huge gift yesterday.


She is a friend who I lost track of. She showed up yesterday at the art supply store. She has also been very sick with cancer. I just thought she was one of the people who disappeared when I was sick. No idea she was going through it too. We snuck off for coffee and stayed for a long time. She told me the story of Job. About transformation through trial. I am not Christian but the story was perfect. More perfect when told in her velvet Georgian accent.

It has been a time for reconnection with two favoured friends. Both have found more spiritual paths. I didn't know I missed them so much but I did.

I am a little unsettled but pleased. Don't know so many things. Need to listen so much more.
To me and to others.

Lessons this week.

1. Assumption is not the same as knowledge.
2. I still am afraid of asking the right questions.
3. When the dose of anything is increased the side effects are also increased.
4. Need to read Robert Buckman and Richard Dawkins again to remind me of the beauty of an accidental universe.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Three words.

Solace, consolation and comfort.

Listening to Redemption Song played by my lovely neighbour at 3:00 AM. He doesn't do this often and I suspect he is self soothing because his pretty little girlfriend stormed out about midnight. Just getting my own back from long ago parties at 1119 and the RED HOUSE.

Hope he feels better soon. Poor sweet youth.

Up working now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I Am Reading Today.

Reading and designing. Worked all night. Silk screens are mostly working.
Life mostly working.

Listening to Johanna Newsome's little song about bones. And making bones,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hive, Rust and Shell

Progress a little at a time!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Youngest son and his spouse on the way to Mother's Day dinner.

Feel a little overwhelmed by work today. Worked until late last night and up again early this morning. Found out I have another show and have been offered a nice artist's fee. That is two in one week. Good for the confidence. But haven't taken a day off in ages. With the exception of caring for sick people.

Rest and visits are a thing of the past in the next month or so. Truck is booked for Quesnel.

My youngest son is taking me to dinner. Ethiopian. My favourite.

Friday, May 6, 2011



Side Garden

Honesty blossoming where everything happened

This morning I was excused from court as a witness to a violent crime. The man, more like a boy, pleaded guilty and my memory was no longer needed. This is a good thing for me. He, however, will be going to prison.

I remember looking at him while he was sitting in handcuffs on my front walk and thinking that his mother had put so much time into him. He was clean, his teeth were straight, his clothing was pressed and he had a healthy glow around him. Angelic looking. He was also so young.

The police dogs had practically torn him apart and he was woozy from fear and pain. The next morning I went outside and the walkway at the side of my house was covered in blood. So was the side of my house. There wasn't just a little blood. There were streams of clotted blood. I have had a hard time gardening in that area since then. I still startle when a dog barks near the house at night and I wake up to little noises that didn't wake me before.

I did something I shouldn't have done. I intervened. I distracted the cops from hurting him further by asking them if they were o-kay. It seemed to calm down the fury. A mother voice from the top of the stairs. A witness. The young cops looked at me and so did the young criminal. Both tried to reassure me it was o-kay. But it wasn't. They all looked ashamed.

I know his name now and he knows mine and so do the young officers. This is no longer an anonymous late night event. People plead guilty when they don't have the money to do otherwise. He will go to jail for something he did related to money.

As a former street social worker I have watched as well loved children were taken to jail the first time. I know what happens to them and how they look just a few weeks later. The crustiest ones crumpled in spirit. I have worked with them again when they have been there for a few years. I know jail just doesn't work very well to make things any better.

The Vikings did it better. They sent their difficult young off to explore and to benefit Viking society. The wild ones went off to do the pillaging. Elders knew it was better than keeping them at home in sleepy villages. They knew that "wild ponies make the best horses".

I am the mother of four sons. Two biological and two step-sons. Some are a bit wild. Sometimes. I know that they all got into trouble but were decent enough to have discretion.
They scraped by but didn't collide with the law in a serious way. They grew up in the Inner City and they saw and knew what could happen. I didn't raise them to be innocent and completely protected. An impossible act here. They knew who did what and who to avoid.

I had this fear that they might do something wrong and come face to face with the dogs.

I got the phone call excusing me and I instinctively went out to the side of my house where it happened. A beautiful bouquet of flowers has thrived despite my neglect. I am not usually a cryer but I did. I hope he survives jail, that his victim recovers, that the cops stay responsive to human pain. I hope his mother makes it through this with love.

Happy Mother's Day to the mothers of boys. Happy Mother's Day to his mother and the mothers of the young cops. It is hard to raise good men. We all did our best.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Hand coloured digital transfers now waiting for heat process, stitching and embellishment.

I crawled into the work room this morning after a long night of writing and found sticky tabs all over my binder. I use both the computer and hand written materials when producing a package. Caught in that place between old and new school. Too young to tuck the old hanky up my linty cardigan sleeve... too old to wear the flashing L.E.D. thong. Sometimes a confusing place.

The consequence is a bit of a snarl. I have been trying to break my dependency on Tim's technical abilities and push through on my own. Getting better at this a little at a time.
If I can run the heat press, Embellisher and a complex sewing machine there is hope ...

Managed to produce an statement or two, the course introduction, supply list, find some photo files and finish my c.v.

I am tired today and still need to get everything sent to the curator in Quesnel. Good thing she is patient and lovely.

Best part of last night was finding a series of silk digital transfers that are now ready to turn into creatures. Much more done than I thought.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sow's Ear

Dried roses

Rose paper foundation for sculpture... in process.

I am buried under paper. The part of this job that is the most difficult for me is articulating what my work is about. This week proposals are colliding with artist's statements and course descriptions. Not to mention income tax!

They have to be done and need to look new and original. Each show requires a personality of it's own.

I try hard to do experimental and unique work for every show but there is an unintentional flow from one body of work to the next. I don't think I am stuck or simply regurgitating a theme but there is a central core to everything I do. Recently someone said that my work looked very "Patricia Chauncey" and then in the same week another friend said that the work looked just like me. Both meant that in a caring way and that is how it was received. But I don't know what that means.

I know what it is about my work that people are compelled by. It is visceral. Not intentionally for shock value but it does. There is an element of playfulness while addressing subjects like pain, disease, natural process, the erotic and personal history. There is the rhythm of obsessive surface. It is also narrative when presented in series. The series flow from one to the other. People who view my work are often return visitors not known to me personally. They come back to my shows year after year and even travel a long ways to see them.

So my challenge is to tell people what they will see when they come to my show. Spin. Invitation. It is the same with course descriptions. This is what you will get to do when you come play with me. Our date will be completely scripted.

I confess to loving disasters during a workshop. Once the whole region had a power failure. Electricity is needed for most of my workshops. All dozen of us trooped through the little town and looked for textural surface, example of decay, natural and contrived colour palettes and went and had tea in my little apartment. The course evaluations were smashing. Another workshop set off the fire alarms and sprinklers in a building filled with office workers. A student was enthusiastically and frantically burning and altering fabric and tossing it into a common pile. She didn't pay attention to my rule of making sure that the smolder was out before moving it off the burn tray. Again it resulted in fabulous evaluations and comments.

People don't take my workshops unless they need a little adrenalin rush. Extreme textiles don't appeal to the delicate personality. The workshops attract people who want to experiment but have the safety net of my support to learn new skills. They want to play with the wilder side of their creative desire. They want something more action packed. They want to master something that is unpredictable.

So my challenge is to describe what I am trying to do without making it sound like a comic book or a version of "Girls Get Wild with Purple Hats".

The other challenge is to remember not to tell all my naughtier textile secrets.

For those interested the next workshop will be held at the Quesnel Art Gallery on June 4th and 5th. The show will open on the June 3rd.


A few of the components being made for the show in Quesnel. Thousands of tiny pieces.
Each processed at least three times. Stuff made from silk gauze, mixed poly fiber, lambs wool felt, paper, industrial fabrics and old envelopes. Most are stitched, beaded and hand painted.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hey,Hey The First Of May!

My favourite politician and dear friend, Libby. We find out if she gets elected again tomorrow!
The masses
May Day
Stop it! Now!

Tiny Queen of May gathering spring.

Look who walked down my street today. I live in East Van and it is like that here.
A lovely little May Day gathering I thought I would share.

My happiest May Days were with my Commie grandfather when I was little. We went on picnics with other Union people and had sack races. My favourite May Day was in Paris a couple years ago. The streets were full. So was my heart.

Happy May Day!

Listening to Solidarity Forever and the Internationale live!

Digging Through.

I was thinking about memory after having a conversation with my son about some of his earlier memories.

This is my favourite childhood photograph. It was taken beside the stable where the draught horses lived. Dolly and Dan. The location was on the farm and sawmill that my paternal grandparents owned. Near where some of the more beautiful scenes from Brokeback Mountain were filmed. My family had just moved from Quebec.

There was no electricity, flush toilets or running water. We chopped and carried wood, hauled water, milked cows, fed chickens, made bread. I can still do a pretty mean hog call. Everything like it had been done a generation before. Except we had trucks.

In this photograph I am digging for dinosaurs, lost things and long ago people.

My aunt made me the jeans. My poor citified mother did not want me in trousers. She tried desperately to keep me with curls or braids in my hair, lace stockings and little plaid dresses. I was miserable. So my aunt, who was in her teens, took pity and made me the jeans with a red plaid lining. She knew my mother would have to let me wear them because they were a gift. She has always been my favourite aunt. Note the patent leather mary-janes and lace socks. The jeans are completely encrusted in mud.

I could swear like a trooper in French and had figured out that very few understood what I was saying. I took advantage and insulted some of the ones who insisted I speak French. I called them names and smiled sweetly. They thought I was being adorable.
This worked very well until one day my mother was standing behind me and heard. Jig was up.

They made me eat peas. Slimy home canned grey peas. They were disgusting and I could gag them out my nose in protest. I eventually learned to spit them in my pocket and put them down the outhouse. My Uncle swears I am so tough because I was toilet trained in an outhouse at 40 below. Truth was I had accomplished that feat long before we left civilization in Montreal.

I remember the day this picture was taken. The sun was hot on my back, the grasshoppers were humming, the magpies were calling and I was in absolute heaven.

Listening to:
Backwater Blues Bessie Smith