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, September 27, 2014

Marja Van!!!!

Tim went to the post box and pulled out a little package and it contained the whole world.
This beautiful piece of marvel was made by M-a-r-j-a Van.  She teaches in the Far North.
 Postmarked Inuvik.

Thank you Ms. Van!

Photo taken in bed. Better shot tomorrow. This is a detail of the beautiful natural dyed scarf
Marja Van has made and gifted me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Spiritual Artists

Spiritual practice and art are not the same thing. Not to me.
Your flimsy and exploitive marketing tactic is more than tired. There is nothing remotely deep in most people's work that is described as spiritual. It is tiresome and often reflects a shallowness I didn't imagine was even possible to achieve. Appropriated crap. Not spiritual.

Art, to me, is best when it reflects self, environment or connection. Sometimes the simplest line can do that. Simple object well thought out and resolved. Refined. Pared down. Matured. Of self and effort and talent.

It takes more work than to hysterically figure out label after label for yourself. Don't call yourself anything if you are sampling and exploring. You are not a conceptual artist until you have explored concept. Really explored an idea and not shit it out for amateur show or two. Lived it.

Needing to describe yourself in early practice is unnecessary but learning is okay. The labels really don't let you get away with anything.

I love blind jurying. It separates the wheat from the personality or attractiveness. It removes the bimbo factor, the friendship, the potential connection. It is scary. No artist's statement to dazzle and distract jurors. No fancy stories over ridiculous work. Just it... Raw presentation. The cream always rises and the substantial holds an honest place.

Your true art will stand out as it is if you shut the fuck up about it. Cliche description is worth nothing as the work stands there naked.

Needing to use labels like Soulful Art. The Sacred Feminine. Etc. dismisses it all for me. As does making a bloody mess and experimenting and hanging it on the wall because you are afraid of the strength of one single piece. Nothing but the best you have. Not from an experiment but from a long term exploration and mastery. Effort. Hard,hard work. Research. And admitting what belongs to you and what belongs to others.

I could give a damn about your spirituality.

Pale Butterflies

I have been withdrawing from the methadone that they gave me as a substitute for the morphine I can't tolerate. Turns out that withdrawing is pretty rough. Not as rough as the side effects. I am now stunned to discover I can't take narcotics without big trouble.

Not great. Luckily my pain level has subsided a bit with the lack of activity.

Life is made easier by my husband. We are now alone. For three days.

He is trying so hard. I am being really sick and difficult. I have held down two meals in a month. I struggle to keep fluids in. The coughing retching uses hours a day.

I visit people and can barely sit up. Not very good at being a sick person.

My anger stuns me. Keep having to remind myself that it is a side effect of two drugs. And that anger is part of this.

I am doing the best I can.

Tim found me three beautiful pale butterflies that died in the windows during the mating frenzy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Post Box

I love having a post box at the end of the Sweethaven Road.
I never know when a surprise will arrivve.

My favourite gifts are hand written letters. I love the personality and love each hand drawn word each person makes.

This mornings mail brought this beautiful letter from Abbe. I have know her for so many years.
My eyes danced across her words. What a beautiful gift! It will be placed on the wall at the foot of my bed to remind me of the kindness and thoughtfulness people have by giving of their time to share words of encouragement and friendship.

Bad Drugs

I had a great appointment at the BC Cancer Agency today.
Not what I expected. Our discussion moved from cell counts, dosage and severe side effects to quality of life issues.

Tim was ferocious regarding what happened to me during the MRI. I was physically hurt through complete willful belligerence. He was furious about the fact my Oncologist actually expected many of the side effects that have happened to me not as a result of the hormone blocker but as a result of the booster drug. It was not a necessary drug and the other drugs work fine without it.

I have been in bed most of the time since August and have had such serious side effects I had to be watched 24 hours a day. These side effects were severe vertigo, vomiting enough to lose an enormous amount of weight, at least one nose bleed a day and bad pain. I also developed severe and debilitating reactive airway symptoms that managed to make it so breathing was difficult and my oxygen sats dropped 6 points. The depression and emotional impact of the drug was also huge and life ruining.
All off this not part of a necessary drug regime.

Tim had to take time off work when it may not have been that necessary and friends have had to come in and care for me. We have had to hire someone and buy expensive off protocol drugs to get me through this. Tim was sure that I was not going to make it through the fall.

I am definitely not through it yet but one day off the drug the side effects have dropped by half. I can almost breath clearly, I stood up without fainting or tipping over. I ate real food and kept it down.

Tim and Femke are hovering in the sweetest way. I hope they can stop doing that. But to have their love and care is enormous. And I will never doubt my beautiful husbands dedication and love again.
I look at him and he glows with the most serene and beautiful light. He has barely had a minute to himself or a good nights sleep in weeks. I am overwhelmed. His generosity and kindness have made this almost worth it.

He put up the beautiful antique canopy bed in our bedroom. He painted the hallway and the second floor. He lovingly created another space for me to sleep in the big window in the living area. It meant he had to re purpose and construct platforms while Femke, Chris or Judy  watched me. It is a beautiful, peaceful space where I can take part in the life of Sweethaven while still in bed.
Tim on the Mount Park just behind Sweethaven. 2014.

Femke pulled out my needle bag and handed me wool. It was very hard to coordinate myself at first but it is now happening. I am using my hands today.

It looks like I might get a little reprieve where I will hopefully be able to finish documenting my work and try to make some new work. All the plans are there. The material is there. And so is a little bit of energy.

Time for all the crap to get shoveled out of here and scrapped off my shoe to make way for decent people and experiences. I have learned so much this fall. Lots of it not happy. Some of it shockingly ugly. But lots of beauty. There is clearly no more time to follow any other agenda but the one Tim and I define. He is with me for six months if we are lucky enough to have six months. If not... we will make other plans.

I am deeply in love with the man I chose to spend my life with and raise a family with and start to grow old with. Even though it has been 33 years. It is better right now than it has ever been because of the deepest connection possible. He is a truth teller, has nothing selfish or shallow about him and he lives with integrity every single day. I could never measure up but I will seriously try.                                                

Right now I am hungry. For the first time in weeks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


There is a consequence to making a decision to work with and surround yourself with people who are differently directed or less skilled. Sometimes the consequence is regression of your own art practice. It can also result in having to reclaim your path and contacts. Or find you are surrounded by copy artists, Sunday painters or posers.

I made a decision to change direction a few years ago. It happened at the peak of mid-career success. I quit organizations, stopped teaching, let memberships lapse and didn't follow up on extraordinary invitations that were coming in internationally.

At that point I was winning International Awards like the one from Hand Weaver's Guild of America for Innovative Practice, being published in Textile Forum Austrailia and in the European Textile Network Magazine. I was also guest speaking and teaching with an Invitation to teach at the National Taiwan Craft's Institute. There were other things like a life profile in the Column Left Atrium with the Canadian Medical Association, a documentary and invitations to show in New York, England, Holland and Hong Kong.

But I decided, perhaps out of fear, that I desperately needed a studio up North and to open a gallery.
It allowed me time. It allowed me a whole new perspective and some grounding time. It did not allow time for creative growth and eventually choked my creativity almost completely. I was surrounded by bad landscape painters, people who attend art events to get laid and used the nearby art school as a glorified summer camp or by artists who have dated prescribed practice and messages. Not all of course. There was meetings with  Peter Von Theissenhausen, John Hall and Harold Klunder.  Got to work with Claire Kudjundzic and Bill Horne, Carolyn Anders, Corey Hardeman and Paula Scott.

Hard lesson from all of this. In some ways the time spent in Wells was wasted and destructive on both a personal and professional level. Except I made friends and lived the intimate but invasive life of a small town. But professionally artistic life ground to a near halt. There may not be time now to reclaim it.

I can only blame myself for what happened.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Picture of Superman

Got me through another hard night. Superman got up three times. No sleep for either.
Awoke to blueberry smoothie and fresh made tea. Hydration.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Christine came and stayed and cooked, held me, made me laugh
played with Tim, read to me, dragged me to the beach and did everything magic she does.

Our house rings with laughter and love.

This kinda sums up who we are.

My Christine. Always.
Christine Basque and Patricia Chauncey. Sept. 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Long Term Illness Sucks

i have no enthusiasmI have now been dealing with the same slow growing cancer formally for 12 years. I was in my forties. I have had no success with the series of chemos, radiation and surgeries. Some of those treatments have left me sicker and close to death. I have pulled back from death at least 5 times.

It is normal for me to leap back into a life that works for awhile and diminishes again.
Each time less of me comes back.

The cancer has started a whole new phase. This time fierce. Nausea so bad I can't sit up or walk around easily. A skull bone that aches all the time. Legs and balance that no longer work reliably
Pain. In my chest and under my arm. In old radiation on two places in my spine. Breathing problems. Vomiting that is hard to control.  Sleeplessness and sweating.

I am lucky and  know that. But there comes a point where there is now very little value I offer the world. Where the motivation to get up is leaving and I just have the energy to stare at a wall. I have gone from lookin forward to visits to avoiding many of them because I find social enery the hardest to manufacture.

The cancer clinic experience has changed. I am still in Ambulatory Care. But this is now done with a walker and an assistant. It would be impossible for me to go to an appointment on my own.
 People no longer say how well I look. They are startled. Black and green circles and a palor startle my friends. Their eyes well up all the time. I talk on the phone and I hear them react to my voice weakness and breathlessness.

I was not diagnosed at Stage 1. I was diagnosed at Stage 3. Now diagnosed as palliative Stage 4. For 2 years.

My patience is short. Very little left for fools who push alternate diagnosis and faith healing on me. Positive thinkers who are convinced I somehow created my own genetic malady by feeling and reacting to stress in the wrong way. Who attempt to silence me with stupid mantras and magical thinking. Who abandon me because I am cranky.

My attempt to get up and take part in life takes more than most understand. It is my belief that people suffer silently not only to protect others from pain but because they have given up trying to use their own voices. They are tired of trying to be allowed to express what they need and want. Of having personalities and roles imposed on them. Sick people don't say things like that. You are a saint. I am not a saint. You are so brave. I am terrified. You expect too much. Seriously. I am expected to wait for hours for appointments. Sit in dirty clothes. Wait for food when an empty stomach burns and burns. Stand on buses. Be stood up at the simple drop of a hat.

I am a grouch. I do not have my regular instant smile and trust. My attitude is the best I can do. I am not needing to suffer...

I didn't manufacture a single fucking thing except feigned happiness and excitment at life. The things that make me truly happy are nearly all gone.

I am no longer thankful for another day. Just grateful for the life I was enabled to have after diagnosis. And so glad about the life and love I had before all of this. It was full. It was rich. And I loved it. Right now I don't because long term illness without hope just sucks.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Navigating Through

I have been invited more than three times to show in a gallery and the possibility of doing so causes me distress because I will be required to cross over the personal with the professional.

The personal is very unpleasant. The professional is important only in that the invitation is from someone who has been a dedicated follower and advocate of my work for many years.

The personal requires a super human effort to be civilized. Even sort of civilized. Even sort of human. It is hugely upsetting. It involves the ridiculous unnecessary drama resulting from a situation that was heart breaking to me.

This is going to require thought. The person who invited me has asked repeatedly for a few years.
He collects my work. His board of directors include two people who have hurt me. One very intentionally through the theft of ideas and personal betrayal and one without personal knowledge and as a result of manipulation by another.

The whole idea of the gallery looms before me and makes me feel sickened. I have even avoided the community at all costs.

How do other people address dilemmas like this? Where does there capacity to ignore trauma and deep personal insult come from?
My work from the Wonderland show at Numen Gallery. 

I am an honest person who has a difficult time hiding feelings. My feelings in this case are raw and new. I feel invaded on many sides by a personal experience manipulated by another that has left me with enormous self doubt, self consciousness and fear. The selfishness of his actions has invaded two communities that were important to me. I no longer feel comfortable in either.

He had almost no recent successful connection to the creative community before he connected with me. Stepped over me. Carved a swath through my professional life. To say nothing of the impact his selfishness had on me personally at a time I could not protect myself from any of this.
In more normal times this would be a small obstacle. I could muster my own personal shield. But everything is more significant when at my most vulnerable. Life and Death vulnerable.

But my friend and follower wants to show my work in a beautiful gallery out of caring and admiration. He asked again last night. Last week. The week before. Last month.
I just sit here not unsure of his commitment to my work but in a full terror of showing there.

I told him that I will try my best and that I have other obligations I am not meeting. and the truth is I will try my best. I told him my agent will organize it with him. Hopefully the show happens posthumously. Easier that way.

Piano Man

Earle Peach playing my piano in the early morning light. Beautiful sounds from
an amazing man. Such a nice way to wake up. He stays at Sweethaven when giving concerts on Mayne.

Cozy, Cuddled and Loved.

The artist Judi Porter just gifted me a beautiful quilt that has pictures of my life all over it.
I made some fabric for her daughter Amanda's wedding last summer. I had no expectation at all that I would be given something as heart warming and beautiful as this wonderful quilt.

It will serve me very well. No one has been able to get me out from under it today. Or in the near future.

I am so deeply touched. Couldn't get my eyes dry for at least an hour this morning.
So loving and delightful. And from dear friends. Judi and Amanda. I love you!

                                                    Judi Porter's Quilt. 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

C.B.C. Radio

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, our state supported public radio has experienced massive lay-offs and letting go exceptional journalists, writers and researchers.

But something has happened this afternoon. The words "Bad Shit" are being sent out over the radio waves.

We haven't quite figured out if it is simply a stutter or a political action. More than 15 minutes of it so far.We are laughing so hard. We have had enough of the austerity programs in Canada . It is time for some extreme action to straighten out the mess that is being made of each and every public service.

We used to have live announcers who were delightful. Now there are pre-recorded loops. Now we just have "Bad Shit"!

That's it!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Each day is different.
Today was happy.

Tim is now partying with his cronies from work;
He is saying goodbye until I do whatever I will do.

Femke is sleeping on her couch and I am trying to get upstairs to a real bed and draw.

There is a little tiny frog who calls whenever I cough. Very funny. He sounds like a tubercular ward.
Perfect little cup mushrooms. Places for tiny frogs to bathe!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Break Out

This morning was the same disaster as every morning has been for the last few weeks and then I made a decision. I am doing something today if it kills me. It nearly did but something happened.

I told Femke that we were leaving Mayne Island for the day and she looked at me a little horrified because she saw me struggling for air and to get up. After a bathless week I stood up and climbed the stairs and got clean in the most painful shower I can remember. But clean is clean. I couldn't wash my hair or stand there long enough to have her do it. I climbed from shower straight back to bed and shivered. And decided to push past the pain.

We grabbed the ferry schedule and got dressed quickly. Femke washed my feet. It was a loving, loving act done in her gracious casual way. She was unsure if I could do it. But I did it. Not quietly.
Or elegantly.

We grabbed my drugs, my shoes, a little food and coffee and jumped in the car with the same hoopla as everything had taken this morning. The ferry had room and we were on before I was fully concious, Before Femke had her coffee. We watched the sea. Beautiful sea. and as quick as departing the car landed in Victoria.

First stop Chinatown and an amazing noodle soup in Fan Tan Alley. I drugged myself again and started with purchasing a beautiful flowered cotton kimono. Cool and soft colours. The rain was seriously pelting down. And off again. Hit the most amazing Capital Iron and found self threading needles!!!! Managed even with the shaky hands. Found fuchsia boots. Found a pattern for a poncho to ward off the chill this fall. And went to a clothing store and found some new duds. Including a Long black crepe tunic, A flowy black sweater jacket and new cotton tights and mariner pants. The weight loss means many things are too big. Femke bought a beautiful printed scarf.

Farm market next for huge bags of corn, basil, cukes, green beans and purple cauliflower.

We sat by the pretty sea and ate our supper of chilied muscles and calamari. A creamy seafood chowder. A virgin drink worked out fine. Baby tomatoes stuffed each mussel. Fresh lovely lime. All while watching the storm on the water. A woman came over and said, "You have cancer and it isn't going well. I know. I have breast cancer. There are these great ginger candies in Chinatown that gets me through what you are going through." I was stunned and wondered if this disease has now printed a warning on my forehead. She said she recognized how I was walking and the way I was holding my shoulders and protecting my head. We looked at each other in full delight! And both said,"It is day by day!". Her husband was thrilled with her and he reminded me of Tim and the enthusiasm he shows for all this effort.

Went back and waited for the ferry. Chewed gummy bears. And there were rainbows! Double rainbows! And I fell asleep in the car while Femke climbed out and charmed half the wonderful men on Mayne Island. The sunset was lighting up the water. Red sky at night sailor's delight.
And then we were home to Sweethaven. The ducks had put themselves to bed. And then we did.
After watching "My Idiot Brother".

I did it. And will do it again. I can be home and sick and in pain or take part in life while it remains possible. One works better than the other.

This was a real day!