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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lost Letters

Seaweed draping on the branches at low tide. Walker's Hook, Salt Spring Island

Thought about memory, lost letters and remnants from the past.
Why do fragments create longing and loss?
What is it that we seek when digging through our history?
Memory, like shredded tissue, is so very fragile. It is altered through time.


There is something to be said about balance when looking at proliferation and abundance.
How fragile these tiny communities are! One being is remarkable but many....
I am always in complete awe when wading on the shore.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Indulging My Bovary

Parrot Feathers from Salt Spring Parrot Rescue

I met a wonderful woman who sells beautiful molted feathers from the parrots at the rescue on Salt Spring Island. Bought a bag or two as an indulgence for my inner Bovary.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travelin' On

Tim and I grabbing a cuddle on the ferry

Barnacle stone
Tim and I on the Powell River Ferry before coffee and breakfast
Huge Barnacle shells
Woody Fungus Saltspring Island
Ring of Woody Fungus Mushrooms Saltspring Island
Huge Slug Saltspring Island, B.C. Dawn

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Leave Us Went.

I am on my little journey now.

Me with my one bag and purse and Tim with a bag for pamphlets alone.

I just about forgot my hiking boots and sunscreen.

The weather is lovely. The companion is in a very good mood and there are no waits at the ferry.

Talk when I get back.

When the car was fully packed and the children finally in fought for spaces, the dog in between us, my mother's anxiousness...my father would announce the start of the journey by saying, "Leave Us Went."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Carrying My Own Bags.

I have decided to pack very light for this trip. Just one little bag that I will carry myself.

Tim and I have two very different ways to do things. Packing is one of them. First time we went camping I arrived with a small backpack and sleeping gear. Everything I needed was in it. Simple, thought out and light. He arrived with a truck that was packed with everything for every contingency ncluding a broom and a dust pan. We looked at one another so shocked.

"Where is your stuff"

"All here!"

It took me awhile to realize I had grown up in a large family and he only had one brother. We were only allowed one small bag. His family was small and when they went away it was for the whole summer in a fully loaded truck.

I have to admit to finding it a luxury sometimes to find a library of books and music in the van, comfortable chairs, 10 changes of socks, a choice of wine etc. He wants to pack the van the night before and has lists and lists all over the place. There are usually 10 chores to do before we leave that never feel urgent to me.

He likes to get an early start and blast down the highway. I think dawn is a time people just imagine and like to wake up at a decent hour like 7 or 8 when we are travelling. He has serious purpose. He has maps and charts and always picks up a caseload of fliers at the information kiosks. I meander. I like looking around and experiencing things I didn't plan for or expect. I like taking the time to surprise myself. Schedules are only good for me if I have to catch a train or a plane. I haven't missed one yet.

But I like the journey and he likes the destination.

I was raised to be self reliant, to improvise, to be flexible depending on the location. I can make fire pits, shelters, and identify wild food. Challenge is exciting. Rest is important. I keep things safe.

He was too I think. He can do anything with his hands. He is a bodger and can make things out of nothing. He has capacity with things like sail boats and mechanics. He loves building things.

We once went on a holiday to a little island that only had one road. It was cliffy on one side and dropped sharply to the ocean on the other. He was driving with a map in one hand. We got into a terrible fight when I asked him to put the map away that the road was very well signed. He said it would be easier if I would navigate. I agreed. I opened the window, took the map and let it fly out the window. The island had only one road and it was very well signed. He was horrified. I was victorious. We got there because the road was very well signed.

I went with him to England where his people live. Everywhere we visited a family member would draw us a map to show us our way. Accurate and well drawn maps. And they all compulsively watch the weather channel.

He came with me to where my people come from and he asked directions from my Uncle. My Uncle replied in a way I completely understood. "You turn left where the big blue house used to be. You turn right when you get to the Meyer's land. Sorry but they sold it. Well you'll know you're there by the lame ass dog that sits on the stoop." I understood immediately.

We were expected to find our way home when we were little, to rely on memory and all of our senses. We knew if it was going to rain or snow by the taste in the air. Primitive knowledge. Like dogs who sniff the pee on a pole. I heard Wade Davis, the anthropologist, talk about the ancient Polynesian navigators who were put in the boat hulls as little babies to listen to the slap of the currents, to feel the temperature and smell the air.

So every time he gets panicky in the truck and asks me to tell him where to go I say..."You know where that blue house used to be..." He did the same thing to me when I got panicky in the Paris Underground. I couldn't figure out where we were at all. Thankfully he had his trusty map or I'd still be down there.

Tim can do celestial navigation, he can draw detailed maps but he gets lost all the time. I have only been lost twice. Both times I was reading a map.

So I packed the bags for this holiday. One each. And there is some nice wine and Baileys in there.
And a change of socks or two. And a book and two maps.

Funny thing is after all this time I now pack more than I can carry and he is starting to meander.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Salmon Calling

Sorting things out. The house was abused during preparation for the current show. It has taken a few days and I am now nearly there. Problem is that when I am fully engaged with art practise nothing else really matters. So paint and dye gets spilled, tub drains get blocked, decent household duties go for a dive. I become a bit of a lunatic. Worse when it doesn't matter to anyone but me.

Tim has been up in the North for a year now. He will continue to work up there for a few more months. But he arrives back tomorrow night to stay one day and then the van gets packed again for a little vacation. He might as well have everything comfy when he arrives and something nice for his belly.

I am looking forward to concentrated time to do some planning and figuring out what happens next. This limbo state in our relationship is really very trying. The breast cancer survival thing makes it so I need to make decisions regarding how I spend the rest of me. And I know that everything can't be planned for. But I was completely surprised to have him leave and go up there. Or that I would go and come back to Vancouver and leave him there.

I have decided what I would like already. There has been enough compromise now. A quiet rural place to do my art without interruption. A way to be in or near to a vibrant city for everything that offers. To look at different things and people. A large enough place to teach and work from. I want to be in Wells or at the ranch. I love responding to the wild and the seasons. But it could be anywhere really. France and Italy also call quite loudly. Very, very lucky to have the priviledge to imagine like this. And what if we all lived like we didn't have a long tomorrow.

So we will sit on some beaches and hike in some forests and figure out if we do this together or not. I wonder who decided that being this age meant stagnation. Neither of us are made for that!

Yummm! While I am on the subject of higher calling the grilled salmon shouts my name.

And this really should be an amazing few days. Not intense or heavy but very, very clear!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time For Quiet

Harvest from the garden. Mountain blackberries and first groundfall apples of the year. Tiny heritage apples called Lady Apples I think. Taste like apples soaked in honey.

I spent a long and relaxed day today just indulging myself. Didn't think about a thing unless it pleased me. Such a complete luxury to have a day or two with little to do except make myself happy.

Meditated, ate fresh veggies and sucked on home-made iced coffee and blueberry-ginger ice tea.

Even had a nap with the window open so the breeze made everything sweet.

My little garden is now ready for winter planting. The apples have started to fall and the blackberries are so fat the canes are bending. I can sit on the deck now and smell some of the flowering herbs. I am a junkie for the combined fragrance of basil and roses.

Textiles didn't get made. My sketchbook was completely ignored. It can all wait until tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Surreal Days

Had an amazing and happy day yesterday. I met my long ago friend Barry and went to The Colour Of My Dreams - Surrealism Revolution at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Both experiences well worth my time.

All the artists were there and thankfully not an overload of the over exposed Dali. The works were interspersed with incredible North West aboriginal art that a number of the Surrealists collected and were inspired by.

I am a Joseph Cornell fiend and a few of his works were there. This included a blue lens film he made that could have climbed out of one of his boxes.

There was so much that I felt completely overwhelmed. Tanguy, Ernst,Miro, Man Ray. A number of the manifests. The lovely and haunting work of Lenora Carrington who just died recently. Lots of Exquisite Corpse collaborations between the artists.

A small section of the show was plastered with a parental and sensitive person warning. It contained some of the more erotic work and it was my favourite part of the show. I felt it had been more carefully and senstively chosen. The tiny works were beautiful and a number of the sculptures were so much more beautiful and erotic than the images I have seen of them.

I loved the mix of artists and all the different mediums. Film, photography, sculpture , drawing and painting.

The other show in the gallery was a number of Ken Lum works. More POP than Surrealist. Clever. But his work collided with my energy after being overwhelmed by the main exhibition.
Two of his works stood out for me. My name is Fung and a large, heart clenching image of an exotic dancer. I am a huge fan of Ken Lum's EASTVAN cross. I live with it daily as it is two blocks from my house.

Barry was the perfect person to see this with. So comfortable and non-intrusive with observations nicely punctuated by his amazing laugh. We were thrown out at the end of the show because time was not adequate. Two days wouldn't be adequate.

We got to play with some interesting ideas of our own. And had a little time to talk and listen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unearthed Samples

Unearthed samples Snap by Krisztina Egyed. 2011

Here are the banners for the Unearthed show. Krisztina Egyed did them . The space is gorgeous.

Here are some of the samples for some of the new textiles I made for the "Unearthed" show.
All orginal and worked with fire and other more extreme process including metal.

Mouse Hunter Succeeds

Two dead mice are proof . I am a mouse murderer by accident. They ate my paint from the looks of their fur. They also pigged right out on the Mexican chili powder mix left on the counter.

Yuck. They have eaten my silk worm cocoons and pressed leaves.

I want a cat and Tim won't let me have one. He indulges me everything else!

Idea Mining

The show "Unearthed" is now hung at Britannia Beach Mining Museum.

Krisztina Egyed coordinated hanging the show for the last few days. Sensitively and with encouragement for me as an artist.

Erica, Krisztina's sister helped for two days and my son Brendan Hurley slung, carried , installed and constructed. All but me took turns on high ladders. The only complaint I have about the gallery is the hanging system which required work to be suspended from line and wire. The rest of the site is completely industrial and beautiful. I feel like spent the day sewing to finish the work and watching people from the top of high ladders. Even Jim Hegan, Krisztina's husband climbed up to move lights and snap photographs.

The hardest decision through the day was hanging 3 long works which hang from the rafters. We tried an incredible bamboo hanging device that Brendan made. Ended up hanging the work from the heavy old wood. The windows behind end up changing how the work looks throughout the day.

So it is now all up and will start to change as the next 2 months allows further patination and deterioration of some of the work. The little rust gardens will continue to blossom. The copper iron rust will deteriorate the silk. Some of the patinas will further develop during the summer.

My serious weakness is not imagination or skill in producing the pieces. It is in hanging the work.
It and pricing are the hardest part for me. Ideally the work should be finished at least a month before but that almost never happens. Almost everyone I know tucks in until right before the show opens.

The "Copper and Fire" Festival is happening at the mine this weekend. My closing, not opening will be held in the middle of September. I feel confident the work is worth seeing. So is this incredible interactive museum.

We were leaving last night as the sun was starting to go down. The old buildings cast shadows everywhere. There is probably enough inspiration in there for more than one lifetime.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 1

Pictures will follow

Set up day 1 completed. Start day 2 in the morning.

The gallery at the Britannia Beach Mining Museum is the most beautiful place to show my work.

Love the contrast between the machinery, the mine and the stone and my textiles. Today we had an audience while setting up and tons of curious children came by to check out both my work and inspirational objects. Let the most curious indulge tactile sensibilities. Swear you can tell a potential textile artist by how they touch the cloth.

Had wonderful helpers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finishing and Packing Up

Final steps with the pebble piece!

Processes include silk screening, heat forming, under coat, crackle coat, initial patination coat with two way paint, over-painted with tarnished gold metallic, rubbed with crystalline metallic micro powders and dry brushed with flaky iridescence.It glows at least five ways causing a little visual overwhelm.

There are days when I just understand how wonderful my son really is.

I am in the final push for the Unearthed Show. I have conjunctivitis in both eyes and a serious cold. Constantly self soothing to fend off serious panic. Not so soothed that creative tension completely vapourises. Just enough to allow me to finish intact.

My son phoned to get instructions to prepare the truck for tomorrow. He checked to see if I had slept. Not very much. He told me to take a little nap and he would phone me in an hour then he'd come by with something healthy to eat and not talk at all. He asked how much water I drank.

When did this turn around? I keep calling by his baby names like Boonie and Barney Bubbles.
But he is this full grown, kind and nurturing man who has a sense when to kick in. A genuine support.

The truth is that there will be no problem finishing the show. The components are all done and being pieced together. The cases are done. And some of it is exciting. I like this part of the process. Very curious to see how it will all work in the mine building with the beautiful old rafters and casement windows that filter the light.

And after tomorrow there are no heavy obligations for at least a month. Who knew I would need a holiday from making art.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Pebbling - stage 2, 3, 4

Pebbling - stage 3
Dimensional chiffon - stitched, printed and painted with real copper

Fire Lace - stage 1 and 2.

Two sleeps until set up at the Britannia Mine Museum for the "Unearthed"show.

Have heat processed more than 90 yards of fabric for the show and invented a few new techniques including a "fire lace" and a layered metallic dressing for very dimensional pebble work. Have dug up some of the fabrics from under the earth and have nearly completed the ammonia and copper dips.

Filling up the cases again and thinking about light and hanging devices. Looking forward to see what it all looks like in the midst of the old mine equipment and ancient rafters.

Two more sleeps.

I am looking through eye drops so I hope these photos are in focus a little.