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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee 2013

That time of year again! I feel so lucky to have enjoyed the company of many of my family and friends.

I am slapping pie dough around and making tortierre for this evening. Other little treats that please us are also being baked and stewed. My energy is holding strong and I am looking forward to spending time with my sons, friends and other family.

Leave for snowy and beautiful Wells tomorrow. Will celebrate a nineteen thirty's New Year at the Well's Community Hall for the big Dance and party, rest for a day or two and then drive back home through the gorgeous and snowy Cariboo.

Will open up the studio for a day or two's work, mostly drawing and planning for the next projects, both personal and collaborative, if all goes well. And I trust it will.

So Bonne Annee once again! Happy New Year. 2013.  Peace and love!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Rust and texture samples with wasp hive  Patricia Chauncey  photo Christine Hatfull
Dreamed last night of Afghanistan. Cliffs and rocky landforms were defined by a soft, snow covering.
Under the snow were bubbled and dimpled bio-luminescent creatures. Soft and amorphous but oozing  slowly through the land. I needed to get to a community celebration but was not sure how to pass through the vulnerable environment.

I knew that no one I knew or cared for was anywhere near.

When I walked the ground cleared as I stepped. It didn't matter how thick the creatures and snow were. I looked behind me and the snow and creatures again engulfed where I had just been. The question was am I  passing through or am I being consumed. 

The further I walked the more it became clear that I was alone and there really wasn't anywhere to go.
I looked down and saw a single glowing creature left behind by the rest. I reached to touch it . The warmth of my hand caused it to divide.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Sample for Proliferation Project. My work and experimentation.
Proliferation Project  photo research with Tim Hurley and I     photo Tim Hurley
Rust Gardens   Tim Hurley and I   photo Patricia Chauncey
A collaborative solar oven made in Wells for natural dye projects.  photo Tim Hurley
A film collaboration with Krisztina Egyed and Ivan Hughes    photo Jim Heagan
I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be involved in a few collaborations with other artists through time. The successful ones happened because both people involved were committed to a time frame, had a similar vision, had a place to accomplish work and understood what it is required to go from fantasy to actualization. The unsuccessful ones were an exercise in power struggle, defensive behaviour, a difference in skill and access to resources. The disastrous ones were defined by lack of commitment, passive aggressive avoidance and an outright theft of ideas.

 I've thought about it a lot over the last few days while trying to decide to end all efforts regarding a project that I was initially excited about. Collaboration is not like an ordinary work experience. It is of self for the people involved. It requires commitment, lots of communication and down and dirty effort. Real work that is personal, vulnerable and sometimes completely exhausting. Shared. Doesn't matter if it is only created for the participants or shared in a public way.

Double Vision-Morphos Inquiry Invitation Photo Scott Pownall   

 I loved doing the "Morphos Inquiry" show with Hilary Young, producing a work called "Stones" with Charles Wilson and the "Homeless Show" with a number of DTES artists and activists a number of years ago. I am asked to collaborate with very exciting artists. Some of them are international and high level and some have work or ideas that are so exciting I am kept up at night percolating my own. I think carefully about doing it. I want it to add to my creative repertoire and experience. To share all of what making my art means to me and to learn from another artist. It is huge gift of myself. More now than ever. My time to do all this now is so very constrained and limited. Sharing it is more important than ever.

Monday, November 26, 2012


The latest show my work was in. It was a fashion show and an art show with "Scarves" as a theme. My scarf, "Radiant" was influenced by pojagi textles and was worked in patches layer upon layer. It was worked like a crazy quilt but had nothing but straight and zig zag stitches. It was torched to create texture and a lace like surface. I was thinking about the end of the world and the whole idea of fire and brimstone. The scarf is long, reversible and light weight. It was purchased on the first night of the show for more money than I expected.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Not Participating But Moving Forward.

I am really sad to say that I needed to make a decision this year not to participate in the Eastside Culture Crawl. The chaos of moving back from Wells, the new treatment to preserve my life from this advanced breast cancer and my adjusted priorities mean I just can't do it. It is a wonderful event. Studios all over the Eastside of Vancouver take part. Hundreds of artsts. Some not so great...many incredible. It is worth visiting Vancouver B.C. for. This year I am going out to see as many studios as I can manage with my new energy level. It is just great seeing so much art in a small distance from the house. I come home from these adventures burning with inspiraton. My breast cancer has advanced now to stage 4. There is no cure now. The treatments I am given simply hold back the hormones feeding the tumours which are now all through my lympathic system, in my lungs and my spine. The hormone blockers might help keep it back a bit. "It" turns out to be an unusual form of breast cancer that has not responded at all to other treatments. Nothing worked after all the different surgeries and treatments I have had. But it has been very, very slow growing. I am lucky that I do not yet feel much pain, that my breathing is challenged but not too bad, and that my brain seems to be working in the crazy way it always did. This year will be full of creativity and support. I love my life and still have so much to do. For now I will keep my studio and gallery in Wells. But it looks like I will be moving to a Gulf Island and keeping an apartment in the city. And looking forward to all these changes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"small talk" closed, talk later!

The small talk Gallery is now closed for the season. The first snow has now covered Wells. It is starting to get cold. Art is being packed up, cheques are being written, Post Office visits are becoming frequent. It was a fabulous season. I met so many people and had so much support with this little venture. But now I need to go back to the Lower Mainland and figure out how to do the rest of this. I am now getting regular injections that will be easier to do in Vancouver. I need to be with my family and to be with my little babies while I still feel well. My old friends are waiting. Lucky, lucky me! So much support has been given to me while I have been in Wells. I love this village. The upsides of this venture are many. I learned so much about running a little gallery in the North. Tomorrow I go into Quesnel to the Baker Hospital and get the injection at the Ambulatory Care Unit. The staff has been great and accommodating to my special needs. Dr. Evans has been realistic, efficient and supportive. It will be my last visit until I return next summer if I am lucky. I am here for Canadian Thanksgiving. Two dinners. Goodbye kisses and hugs to my Wellsian friends and then Tim packs the truck and hauls me to my freshly painted home.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Sometimes there is a beautiful reward for being forgetful. Patience is hard to come by but is necessary with botanical printing. The temptation to lift the covers and just peek is overwhelming when waiting for the beautiful and surprising results of natural printing process.

Ksenya was my assistant at the Island Mountain Arts course from this summer with the taster of different methods of natural dyeing. We had carefully placed objects and leaves on our organic cottons and buried them in the compost to await the results. Then the patient ones put the little bundles
in plastic bags and placed them in suitcases to be opened for later. Ksenya forgot hers in the hot trunk of her car. The package stayed there festering from July to September. The plastic kept the package wet and steeping for all this time. She found it while cleaning out the car and came flying over to the
small talk Gallery to show me the steaming and ugly package.

We placed this living, breathing being on the ground and just observed it in amazement. It was time to go in and see what damage had been accomplished with the summer of neglect/ patience.

Open. Hold breath. The smell was still healthy with an overtone of mildew or moldy earth. The little wrapped bundle was throbbing with life. Ksenya opened the package. Slowly and carefully. The tying threads had become fragile enough to snap off quite quickly. The big reveal exposed an encrusted surface that had plant material and compost. We both took off the barks, leaves and flowers that had morphed into very swamp like remains. This took a little while.

 Complete delight was revealed when we finally turned the cloth over.  Breathtaking organically printed beauty created by nature, forgetfulness and some of the delicious methods adapted partially from the explorations of my textile heroine, India Flint.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I have my moments of perfectionism but mostly I don't stress about little details. I would have gone completely crazy as a girl with three brothers and as a mom with four sons. Creative children and adults need to make a mess. Sometimes creative development requires continuous mess.

My mother was a completely spotless and tidy human being. We were spit polished, floors and wooden furniture gleamed, silver sparkled and windows never had spots. A daily routine for all chores. Which we were never really included in. I was rewarded occasionally with the opportunity to wash a wall, make salads and iron. Boys outside and girls inside. I was the only girl. Housework felt oppressive and still does.

 My mother hated ironing. She figured it out. She would "reward" me with the opportunity to iron from the time I was nine. " If you are really a good girl you might get to iron!" I confess to loving ironing to this day. I love the smell of sweet clean clothes
sprinkled with scented water or "linen" water. The physical action and routine delights me. I used my grandmother's sprinkling bottle to dampen the clothes. It was probably my great grandmother's as I think back.

I have a relationship to textiles through acts of laundry.

 I used to love ironing my father's shirts. I would think of how nice he would look. My big, handsome Dad. Mostly he wore shirts from the cleaners all covered in plastic and hung in the front hall. A perfect covering for his upwardly mobile desires from his farm boy past. But when he wasn't working in offices he wore what I ironed.

My Grandfather's shirts all retained the smell of tobacco. No matter how carefully they were washed. He smoked like a volcano from the age of nine and it defined his scent. Tweedy wool jackets and blue cotton shirts.  He would never wear a white shirt except to a wedding or funeral. He was a "blue collar" Communist. But he always wore pressed shirts and pomade in his lovely dark curly hair. Which he covered in an old fashioned newsboy hat.

My little sons wore sweats and  t-shirts most of the time. Shirts made them itchy. But once in awhile I was treated to ironing them. I was rewarded with their jeans, pockets first, waistbands next, waist details and full leg and then the crisp pleat. No pleats after twelve. No messing with the shredded tears.

Bren was the exception. He wanted to look like Humphrey Bogart from the age of seven. He wore a fedora tilted on his head. He had a little suit jacket and hated the feeling of jeans. He loved swing music. He would open doors for me to pass and say, "Madame" like a doorman. He liked white cotton shirts like Barney, our next door neighbour.

Tim thought ironing was a big waste of time and raced for the dryer to hang things immediately and crisply. He felt guilty when I did anything like that. He didn't want me to act like I was a maid. His English upbringing. I used to sneak in and do it sometimes and hang things by colour. It drove him nuts so I stopped. I have also noticed that he also likes doing laundry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Frozen Leaves and Foggy Mountains.

The season is turning fast. We just went up to the annual celebration in Wells called the Pig Roast at Danny and Lorraine's farm about four miles into the bush above Wells. There was snow on the ground. Snow!

Changing the walls in the "small talk Gallery" one more time before I close the doors for the winter. Winter will be here by October. Cold winter. So I am putting in a real furnace this week. Because I want to spend part of the winter here in sweet little Wells.

Husband Tim and my eldest son Dane are here helping pull things together. This is a help because I have had a slightly shocking struggle with my body this season. My cancer has decided to move into Stage 4. Treatment in the traditional sense is no longer available. No more radiation or traditional chemo therapy for now. Medication is only being used to hold the wayward cells from too developing quickly.

Funny thing is that I feel so very well! Better and happier than I have felt in years. Except I am a bit tired and weaker sometimes. Living a fairly moderate life seems to hold me up just fine. Not very moderate by nature.
I am creative and as productive as possible. Not in serious pain at all. My brain is working and all passions are intact. But there hasn't been enough extra to do some of the little things like writing in this little blog while running the gallery, teaching and making a little art.

I am so very lucky to have my wonderful family and friends. But sometimes they need to be reminded that I ain't close to dead yet!

Stay posted for my next series of work and inspiration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ladies Lunch

Here is proof I suffer for my art in Wells, B.C. Canada. We are on the deck of Chef Sharon Brown's house
overlooking the Bog. The lunch only took 6 hours. The sisterhood includes Island Mountain Arts organizer Julie Fowler, play write and director Julia Mackie, me and Chef Sharon Brown.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Arts Wells Festival All Done

The last of the Festival goers are leaving this morning. It has been a riotous week with music. dancing, theatre and art. Friends from all over arrived. The house was stuffed with people. Family and new and old friends.
Every night there were the howlers, the fireworks, the spontaneous parades and street performances. Every single corner of tiny Wells was filled with creativity of all sorts.

Today my house is empty except for Clyde the cat and little Kate, a young traveller from Northern Alberta.
The quiet is noticable.

The Gallery is closed today for a resurrection day. I have had enough celebration until next year.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Solar Cookery

We spent the weekend dyeing with Northern plants. Alder, rhubarb root, mountain ash, lupine, hawks weed, willow. And mud. And old horse shoes. I think it was the best class I ever taught. Enthusiastic learners to the person.

Tim and I had collected bark, trees , leaves and flowers from the wild mountain hillsides around here! Ended up finding every single thing needed for a very busy workshop. Nature provided everything including some of the mordants. Dorothy dug into the bog and produced dark and peaty mud. Ksenya begged flowers from the hotel hanging baskets and Mark was sweet enough to sacrifice some of his babies. Sheila, Tim and and Laura raided the pansy buckets at the campground. I actually think there is hardly a garden in Wells not missing a flower or two.

We shared the range of my dyeing and natural printing repertoire. Plus we created a workable and successful solar oven. It ended up cooking our rhubarb root dye better than any stove top.

Hard to imagine this far north but we were lucky enough to have three hot days in a row!!! It had rained hard and was very cold for almost two weeks before the workshop. Panicky me was trying to redesign everything and move it into Island Mountain Arts School buildings.  But those dyeing Gods helped out with perfect weather.

Kathy has kept the small talk Gallery opened for days. People are starting to pour in but are still unsure of the weather. Beautiful work has now arrived and been hung on the walls. Arlee Barr's work was perfect today to show and explain natural dyeing combined with stitchery.The opening date has now changed to the 15th. I think this better be called the mid-season reception!

The best little present showed up in the form of leaves and flowers pounded into my wooden boardwalk! Try it you'll like it!!!

 One thing for sure ...the bugs know it's summer and are eating everyone alive!

I am exhausted!!! But full of Northern inspiration!

The class and I with finished solar oven.
Everyone pitching in with me firing instructions.
Hanging the first dyed samples on the Northern dryer.
Some of the vegetation in the back of the truck waiting for the dye pot .It smelled like a sweet almond perfume.

Tim pitching in with his amazing skills.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

small talk begins

The small talk Gallery in Wells, B.C. is now up and running full bore. People are coming in to look and even buy some of the work. The official opening is on July 12. It will be shared with Claire Kudjundzic and Bill Horne at Amazing Space Gallery. Rumour has it Island Mountain Arts Gallery is also going to be open.

There is an assistant here named Kathy Landry, who is an amazing quilter. She has previously run Mrs. Neat's which was a sewing store in Barkerville. Her experience in running a shop has been very helpful.

The first show up is "Unearthed". It has work from my last two shows and includes some new work as well.

The line-up of other artists includes Tina Ozols, Laurie Landry, Shirley Chisholm, Kathleen Landry, Caroline Anders, Gregg Steffensen, Paula Scott and Corey Hardeman. Work by Robert Klein and Bill Horne are expected soon. There will be knitting by local crafter and alderwoman Virginia Wilkins. Arlee Barr's beautiful stitchings have just arrived.

This is going to be the best summer yet. Once the weather decides to improve.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dye Plants

Woke up to one of those beautiful, soulful and rainy days in the soft mountains around Wells this morning.
Clouds enveloping us. The strange light this time of year. The rain sounds like music on this tin roof.
I am having an adjustment to the quiet. It is lively and noisy on the "Drive" where the Vancouver house is.
Last night I woke up and felt a little claustrophobic with the quiet. 

It is going to be a busy day cleaning, rearranging and hanging in the gallery. There are enough people registered in the IMA course on Northern Dyeing for it to run. Lots of prep work now.

I am now gathering the dye plants for sampling. All of these are from the gallery garden.

Rebecca and Mark, my wonderful neighbours, went to pick up the shared greenhouse yesterday. Mandy, the archaeologist in Barkerville has given Rebecca some heritage woad seeds and rhubarb. Both are exciting growing and dyeing possibilities.

Natural dyeing with the forest bounty is always exciting. Soft and wimpy colours can be pumped up. And there is nothing wimpy about alder!

Dandelion for dye, salad and soup.
Horsetail for dye and strenghtening finger nails
Fireweed for flowers, honey and dye
Old Man's Beard Lichen for caribou food
Amazing and huge cabbage mushroom lichen thing. Size of my two hands. Possibilities!
Turns out the Old Man's Beard is in proliferation but the caribou that eat it around here are endangered. Will look for a very dense patch to gather from. There is nothing sustainable about a natural dye if it obliterates an environment. The rule of thumb regarding gathering is that you should never take more than two thirds of a patch of plants. My rule is more like one third.

So off I go with rain jacket, rubber boots, trowel, sniipers and gathering bags. I found some really amazing giant lichen that I have no name for yet. Need to bring an identification book or two. And lunch. Then for serious gallery set-up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bear Bangers and Wild Dyes.

Island Mountain Arts Gallery and headquarters across the street. Co-ordinates one of the best festivals ever and an
amazing school of the arts in the summer. Takes over the whole school and most community venues. 
Lady's Mantle growing prolifically through the yard. A great dye plant.

View of the small talk Gallery bird houses and Pooley Street.
J. ,one of the Wells children, freely playing cartwheels in the park beside the gallery.
Unpacking my living room.
Forget- me-knots planted by the previous inhabitant of my house.
Gallery cat Clyde and Master of the balcony supervising the lavender seedlings on the old mine table.

 The back walkway into the house. Larry's lasso parked for now.

Happily getting adjusted to life in Wells. But forgot some things...like mosquito bites on butt.

Just heard a bear banger go off near the school. At least it sounded like a bear banger. It might have been a
shotgun or dynamite near one of the gold claims. All I know is that the RCMP went by in the SUV a little while ago and then the bear banger sound happened.

Funny thing is that I was out hunting dye plants for my workshop. Easy to get distracted.

Animals live near the town and occasionally decide to come in for a visit. I personally have seen a wolf, coyotes, foxes, a bear and a young cougar just past the Wells Information Center. Will remind myself it is spring and some of the critters are still hungry. I don't plan on being anybody's main course!

Think I will go close the windows and let kitty in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wells At Last

I am finally home in my little house and gallery in Wells. We had an eventful journey pulling a trailer with the van and a packed moving truck. Ran into rain, sleet, and finally a blizzard over Devil's Canyon in the Pass near Wells.

Woke up in the morning to friends starting to unload the truck. They had made our beds, turned on the water, turned on the heat and cared for my new studio cat Clyde. Baskets arrived with home baked bread, mountain berry jam and hugs. Ate a first dinner with friends which consisted of fresh elk, incredble home made seed crackers, home cooked peach sambal sauce and one of Claire's delicious cherry and organic grape crumble.Walked into the "Well's General Store" and got chapped from hugs and kisses.

Have also experienced two power failures, no-see-ums, and a four day internet wrangle. The water stinks of sulphur right now. Mark, my very wonderful neighbour, climbed up slide mountain with Joel and brought me gallons of fresh spring water. The wild flowers are starting to bloom everywhere. The house is surrounded by Lady's Mantle and forget-me-nots.

Tim has been working his tail off setting up the gallery and house. We have had help every day.

Pictures of Wells tomorrow if the internet doesn't fail again.

I am home!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have a secret. My very best friend in Wells is my adopted granddaughter Jasper.
She says we are "Riveting " together and that she is glad that I am round because she won't "lose me"! I won't misplace her either because she has bright, shiny eyes and red hair.
I will see her next week and we will sew together and drink chai and she will bring me horse hair, dead bugs and pretty flowers. She works for me and sweeps my floor.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Am I Today?

I am very biological. In the process of decay and healing at the same time!
Times like this require heavy disassociation or self indulgence. Avoidance is also a good choice.
Escapism seems to be the best answer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Best Of The Bad

Well the news is finally here regarding my pathology results. The surgery revealed a recurrence of breast cancer. It was very small and growing toward the surface. The tumor was contained and removed. No metastasis has shown up. Borders clean, lungs clean, bones clean and lymph nodes clean.
It looks like I will not need chemo or radiation. I will probably be put on an estrogen blocker. 1 little pill a day.

So back to life and art. Will be leaving for Wells in the next three weeks.

The gallery now has a legal name. It is called the small talk Gallery. It used to be the telegraph office, the telephone office, the dentist office and the newspaper office in the past. I held a naming contest for the residents and supporters of the Well's art community and Kathleen Landry, a  fabulous quilter won!

There are now a number of artist's in the small talk stable. Poppy Candy Anders, Laurie Landry, Kathleen Landry, Paula Scott, Robert Klein, Bill Horne, Arlee Barr, Cory Hardeman, Vivian Baumann and Karen Jeffery. I am currently interviewing ceramics artists,textile artists and jewellers from British Columbia.

Trying to finish up the income tax audit in the mean time and trying to pack and heal!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Introducing Ali!

First photographs of Althea.  Top with Papa Chris and Grandpa Tim
                                             Middle with beautiful Mama Vashti and Althea
                                              Ali with her little face. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

She is Here!

I have a new little girl in my life. Althea Susan. Born after many, many hours of hard work.
Born on Jane Jacobs birthday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grand Baby Two

Grandchild number two will arrive tonight. Vashti is now in full labour.

Flower Papers

Love the huge flower petals in the spring.  Make flower papers. Different than paper flowers. Might make paper flowers from flower paper.

Better day.

Packing for Wells, doing income tax and heading to East is East for tea.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pens and Pencils

I am up and playing with paper after a day or two of self indulgence and feeling sorry for myself.
This healing thing is challenging sometimes. F cancer and it's aftermath. F pain. F depression. F hospitals.

Gayla dragged me out for dim sum today. Sadie and Mary Ellen both let me talk about fear.
Barry filled me up with stories of tropical reefs and camel riding.  Bren came by and checked. Vivian filled me in on Sasquatch stories. Tim cooked an amazing dinner.  Rod the Viking offered hot sake and a trip to Seattle and talked about illumination and visiting Wells.

Bandages off. Sutures holding me together. But going on my East is East Chai date tomorrow with Celine.