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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another Day

Today is another day. I am feeling well enough to go for a walk.
I have a little fever so Tim thinks I have an infection or little virus.
Blood tests and a check in with the Doc.

A package I was waiting for arrived with a manageble little textile challenge.
This has to be done in a short time so it should be managable.

So up and at it to find another day. Fresh air can be a lovely luxury.


I am drained, demoralized and exhausted. All my own fault.

I have been over functioning again. Afraid of missing one minute
Just did and felt too much..

Not even able to climb out of bed for five minutes at a time.
I was invited to coffee this morning just around the corner and got dressed
and didn't have enough energy to pull on my socks.Sleeping doesn't help.

This medication is starting to get brutal. I am due for another injection
in a day or two/and they really hurt. Not little injections. Two big viles of
freezing cold molasses gets pumped into me every twenty eight days to destroy
any trace of estrogen. My Doctor says she marvels at my pain tolerance. But it stings
like wasp stings and stays that way for about a week. I want to slap her hands away.

The other drugs taken have side effects and mean eating favourite  foods or drink
is becoming more limited by the day. I'd kill for a banana, orange or lovely huge feed of potatoes.
Tofu is gone. Chocolate, wine, shellfish tomato. And the adrenal tumour, past steroids and pain
mean there has been a huge weight gain. Really not my fault. But people don't know that and do the
equivalent of serious bullying by talking about proper nutrition like I am mentally disabled.

I spent last night vomiting and choking for air.

I am cranky and unreasonable. I hurt. Fear keeps creeping in and one important person
 I thought would be kind and understanding was the opposite.

Cancer is not for sissies! So I get up and try for another day to find joy, sensuality and sweetness.
And a real and rich life. Sometimes I just can't. And I need to finish this quick before someone prays 
to earn their narcissistic way into heaven.

I still walk, talk and breath still. Apples taste sweet  and my quilt is my best friend.

My self indulgent rant.

My creativity doesn't stop but I feel blocked when it comes to action.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just When I Thought There Was No Magic...

Berndhaut Smilde's Nimbus Minerva 2012   photo Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

I don't know why the Nederlands but it seems that my favourite artists are bred there.

I have gone on and on for years about the "Strandbeests" which are a series of kinetic sculptures created by the incredible and delicious Theo Jansen. These huge wind powered beings with the potential  to
walk the beaches forever. I am completely smitten with his quiet and humble explanations for magic.
Awestruck! Silenced...

I love Dutch men. They are so very feisty, educated and intelligent. They eat beautiful cheese and chocolate. And delicious salt liquorice. They aren't afraid of creating a common good while being incredibly inventive.  They can embrace and create new ideas. They seem to have this crazy passionate way of being that belies most Northern Europeans. An arrogant understanding of the need for real, sensual and earthy life. Not all I am sure. Because people are all different. But all the ones in my world.

Now I have discovered the work of Berndhaut Smilde.  He has figured out how to create work from clouds which he installs in the gallery. Real clouds made with combinations of the elements. I am only learning of his work but I am so delighted.  Captured. Gob smacked! And I just found out he will be coming to SFAC Galleries in San Fransisco on Feb. 15 to April 28.  Which is just a little trip from Vancouver.

Check out these blogs for a little bit of mind candy. Also look for both on you tube.

www.berndthaut.nl/         www.strandbeest.com/

Monday, January 28, 2013


I am really struggling today with the whole idea of appropriation. I feel surrounded by people who appropriate everything from weaving and painting techniques to spiritual practice. All the work and ideas feel so false and exhausting to me. Expected and done...over and over and over! The technique and practise so taken out of context as to become meaningless cliche. And constantly edging or crossing the line into plagiarism.

An image of Shelagh... miles from an ancestral home in Wexford, Ireland. Am I appropriating or does this image belong to me?
Historically there are whole movements of art based on this culture of  theft and oversimplification. Both the Dadaists and the Surrealists cop to this. Rauschenberg cops to this. But they are honest about what they are doing. It was a challenge to existing convention then. But they all learned and benefited from traditional knowledge. And constantly defyng defied convention is no longer rebellious ...it is adolescent. Dated. Lacking in imagination.

I know this sounds cranky but if you are not a folk don't call yourself a folk artist just because you make cutesy, sloppy work. Folk artists carry on traditions that are generations old and people who are classified as art brut are doing their best to communicate and express challenging realities with whatever materials are at hand. Nothing cute there! Genuine struggle and amazing original accomplishment.

I want people to stop stealing!

I looked up a definition for appropriation.It means the act of taking another's imagery, cultural expression or faith without permission. Out of context, without understanding or tradition. And years and years of practise.

I swear if one more effing blond  blue eyed person says Namaste to me this week or imposes a healing practice that defies and disregards my own cultural reality and healing tradition I will scream the loudest and most vile curse in Gaelic. I will call on Shelagh-Ni-Gig to chase them away with her scary and intimidating crone genitalia. My healing tradition isn't sweet gentle flowers painted in soft cobalt blues and fuchsia.

Stop dressing up and pretending you are a sweet pixie ala Disneyland. Pixies aren't sweet. They spirit away your babies and do terrible mischief. They are soft blue because they are made up and ready for a terrible war.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


                                         Coral Flower Study for pod experiments

                                          Patricia Chauncey 2011 

The last time Tim and I were in Paris we leaned on the fence of the abandoned Iranian Embassy.
We didn't know why such a beautiful building would be empty in a thriving place in the middle of the city. The gardens were totally overgown and the flowers had escaped and seeded everywhere. Nothing was cared for but the resulting chaos had spontaneously erupted into beauty. This imposing grey stone building with a lawn full of flowers that I had never seen before punctuated by scarlet red poppies and cinquefoile.

I know we were soaking wet from one of those Parisian rains that happen when the sky darkens instantaneously and burst so dramatically that is like having someone dump whole buckets of water on your head. The sun blasts back out and shines like nothing has happened. The Parisian people are rather like the weather. Dramatic one minute and completely warm and oblivious the next. It just might be the wonderful wine.

The last red poppy I remembered seeing was growing spontaneously right in the middle of a busy sidewalk in Manhattan. Growing through the crack. People intentionally stepped around it to allow it's growth. Was that empathy for a struggling little flower or just a need for garden ?

We were walked in family gardens all through England. Right after tea. Out in all kinds of weather for a little slow walk around the garden to admire the flowers. Orderly little flowers planted with intention. Tended carefully with a scientific interest and tradition.

Last weekend was a disaster for me. I am Canadian and there are not the spontaneous explosions like in France. We have a smoldering build-up to anger here. A denial for the reasons it happens and a nurturing of hurts that we seem to hide from one another. A harsh avoidance of truth and vulnerability. Followed by this awful sour self loathing.

Whatever the reason my instinct was to get up very early in the morning, get dressed and out of the hotel to take a long slow walk alone to look at the frozen vegetation near the boardwalk surrounding that part of the lake.To sooth myself. There were seed pods everywhere covered in hoar frost or submerged under the clear ice. In the last stages of deterioration before spring. In amongst the vegetation was a poppy seed pod which I had to pluck and tuck in my pocket. It didn't survive the trip home. I barely did. I dusted the seeds out of my pocket and let them drift over the snow in the little town of Merritt, B.C.

 I was taught that if you want the brilliantly coloured poppies you need to sprinkle the seeds on the snow by second snowfall. They need to struggle for life to develop strong roots. That need for eternity.

Reminds me of part of a poem stuck to me for years and never left.

                  "Through diaphanous clouds do seep the seeds of perpetuity."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rules For Nurturing A Relationship With A Gallery Owner

I was reminded in my weekend trip away that there really are some rules regarding nurturing any potential relationship with a gallery owner. They will be working hard to support you and market you precious work if you are selected by them. There are so many artists available to fill up almost any gallery's roster and stable. It is worth remembering that even in the supposedly casual art world there is still a level of small politic and manners required. Trust and respect are expected and gallery owners talk to one another so a faux pas can be shared quietly but effectively.

I will share a disaster or two I have experienced owning my own little gallery.

1. Using a gallery owner as a personal sounding board is inappropriate. Try to keep your more personal issues to yourself unless it seriously relates to the work, I don't need to know all your grubby details unless
you are my best friend, my mother or my lover. I have my own.

2. Don't use people's hard earned reputation to further your own ends unless there is something there to reciprocate. There are so many ways to advance your own career without damaging someone who has allowed you their trust.  

3. Don't use openings as an excuse to party hardy, drink too much or act out. People really are watching and are careful about showing people who look difficult and can't show just a little discretion.

4. Be careful and protective of gallery owner's property. If you know the person you brought is a kleptomaniac or your children vomit on the floor don't bring them with you. And pets are not welcome everywhere. Had a barking dog once that belonged to one of my artists that cost me a noise violation with the local town administration. Another one snapped and bit a customer who was disabled.

5. Don't treat the gallery owner's staff as your employee to dump on or use without at least some casual agreement from the gallery owner. Abusing staff people or gallery neighbours is really not kosher.

6. Inviting the gallery owner home is really tricky. Good manners, respect and a little kindness are important. It is pretty bad form to drink too much, insult your guest by sitting them at the kiddie table or with your fanatical Aunt Jane.  And for God's Sake don't ever, ever flirt seriously with their date or husband.
A guarantee you won't show with them at all unless you are a really fabulous artist who is impossible to replace.

7. Prepare your portfolio, have your details available, keep your appointment times and never stiff a serious deadline with an excuse. Promotion time takes at least a month and only change your commitment if it is life and death.

All of the above have happened to me and I am just a small gallery owner. Every single time I have ended my professional contact with an artist and trust me I let others know. Artists are no longer required to be complete flakes and difficult. I can pick and choose which relationships I nurture. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Harm Done

The roofing fire at the studio had no impact at all on my precious work space.
 It made me think about the potential harm that could have happened to all the studios in our building.

Today I dug out projects in an effort to avoid working on my income tax filing.  Tomorrow will bring even more work as a result.

And Celine and Scott came and picked me up, brought me to their live-work studio overlooking the Harbour and out to Stanley Park. We watched ships sail by, trains shunt and float planes land. There were lovely birds at eye level showing off flight patterns. Then talked about human migration, mitochondrial DNA,
current cancer cure hoaxes and trips to Florence and Venice. Celine fed us beautiful goat cheese with nuts, fennel encrusted salmon and a curried lentil cabbage stew and a lavender bergamot tea. And lots of wine.

Perfect day after a week struggling with the injections for the breast cancer. The next few weeks should be good because I am  feelng pretty well again and seriously buzzing wth inspiration.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Woke up to ...
Just a little note to inform you that the roofers accidentally started a
fire on the side wall of the studio. Please come and check your studio contents
and understand the building is being aired to eliminate the strong smoke smell.
My studio just happens to be loaded with sprinklers and huge air vents.
Right over my vintage collection of art books, ancient patterns, 60 years of craft and
design magazines, my sketch books, delicate electronics and visual references.
 I swallow and just sit there.  It is two days since chemo. I will deal with it tomorrow.
Or the next day or the day after that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dirty Darning

I wanna play with your bobbin, lick your scarlet thread, oil your shaft and vibrate this floor like never before.

Turns out there was a problem in clothing manufacture at the turn of the century. Young woman were treadling like mad and having to deal with the resulting orgasms according to Havelock Ellis in the 1920's. It became a safety hazard.

Time for me to start sewing. Pedal to the metal!!!

And time to call Naughty Peter for some serious research.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's Here!

Midnight fireworks on New Year's Eve. Outside my door in Wells.
Mark is lighting the fireworks which his hotel gave as a gift to the town.
It s very nice to have an explosives expert in your circle and watch him create beauty.

It is 2013 and I am still here!

So much happened last year. Tim returned home from his sojourn in Fort Nelson. I really didn't think he would come back but he did and thrived!  My step grand daughter was born. I got my diagnosis for terminal breast cancer. Got to meet two of my heroes, Michael Moore and Peter von Tiesenhausen and  had conversations with both of them. I taught at Island Mountain Arts, opened smalltalk Gallery and moved into the little mountain paradise that is Wells, B.C. Canada. Learned more about retail. Watched my kids deal with love, pain with the realities of this new world. Had dear ones die, grieve, be born, get sick, get married, start careers and complete educations. Watched terrible wars, rebellions, tried to Occupy and got invited to Spain, Costa Rica, Italy, London and Manchester. Felt jealous for the first time in years. Jealous of time, beauty, energy, health and possibility. Interacted with loving and deeply caring medical professionals. Was given a magical healing circle to help through this journey. Made so many new friends and deepened old friendships. Was just feet from a mother bear with triplets!

So 2013!!! You have a lot to live up to!

It started with a bang at the Wells's New Year's Ball. These people clean up just beautifully and can really shake a hoofy. Fireworks, abundance, flirtations, sweet kisses and hugs, and a loving and thoughtful community. 

So this year my New Year's Resolution is to keep living. To understand the true joy that this life is and take nothing for granted. To breathe in and breathe out. And learn to understand I am just one little being in an amazing and complex world made up of so many different threads and patterns.

And to keep on Stitchin'!!!!