Monday, November 28, 2011

Burgoyne Bay Walk

Even on a grey, cloudy day, a walk around Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park is always beautiful. Today, the soft light made the old farm buildings moody and mysterious.

Apparently the buildings are to be restored someday. I quite like them as they are.

The bay itself is home to a number of people who live on their boats or floathouses.

There is even a "float trailer"!

The rosehips and chokecherries are bright against the lichens.

Leaves of the Garry Oak, a gnarly, moss covered tree native to a tiny area of southern vancouver Island, and apparently, Salt Spring.

It's a fertile place. This abundant tangle of blackberry, dewberry, moss and fern is growing on a massive granite boulder. Ten years ago, the Burgoyne Bay area was about to be logged and developed, and it took a sustained fight from islanders to have it protected and turned into a park. We are so fortunate that they won their battle!

Shades of Grey

Back in September, I bought three freshly-shorn dark grey fleeces from Ruckle Farm, down on the south end of the island. They were stored in a sack in one of my closets, and soon became a favourite napping spot for Angus the cat. I always knew when he had been in there, 'cause he smelled like a little sheep. I also knew if I left them for too long, they would become just another layer in the archeological dig that is my stash, so I needed to at least wash them.

Not the most compelling subject matter, I have to admit. And there are mountains of the stuff! Every surface in the house will soon be covered with grey fluff.

I spun a sample skein of yarn: bulky, textured, pretty. There will be a mountain of that, too. Not the best colour to work with during the winter - I will have to spike it now and then with something bright.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Textiles: The Whole Story

Now, THIS is a book! Author Beverly Gordon takes a holistic approach to the story of cloth that delves deep into the spiritual, social and cultural meaning and significance of textiles. She has a PhD in textile history, and is on faculty at University of Wisconsin/Madison, but her intellectual rigour is matched by her lifelong passion for cloth, gained through hands on experience.

She credits Elizabeth Barbour's Women's Work: The First 10,000 Years and Annette Weiener and Jane Schneider's Cloth and Human Experience as laying the ground work for her own book. I often refer to those earlier volumes, and I expect the Textiles: The Whole Story will soon gain the same well-thumbed status.

Chapter titles are evocative: "The Very Fabric of Existence: Textiles in human consciousness"; "Living on the Earth: Textiles and human survival"; "Textiles and the Spirit: The sacred, spiritual and healing significance of cloth." Gordon's writing is juicy and rich - not painfully academic. I imagine she is a wonderful teacher. How many would compare Maslow's hierarchy of needs to the system of chakras, in terms of fabric, and have it make sense?

Like all Thames and Hudson books, this one is beautifully designed and printed, with a wealth of colour photographs. Examples are run the gamut from very early historial pieces to contemporary works, and most are new to me - (much as I appreciate the Pasryk carpet or the Bayeaux Tapestry, I don't really need to see another picture of them.) There are copious notes, and a huge bibliography, which are like catnip to my research nerd self.

I just received Textiles:The Whole Story as an early Christmas present, and I look forward to spending this rainy weekend snuggled in bed with it and a cup of tea. Heaven!

It's expensive ($69 Canadian) but so, so worth it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Blogger

That's me. I've been gone for so long I'm even beginning to question whether or not I have anything further to say. But, in lieu any new work of my own - all I've been doing is carding mountains of local fleece - I thought I might offer a book review.

Push Stitchery is a new offering from Lark, "curated" by Jamie Chalmers of Mr. X Stitch fame. It is beautifully printed and bound, and features 30 artists who "explore the boundaries of stitched art." I was familiar with many of the artists already, but put down cash for the book because of the few from outside of the USA and UK who were new to me.

I settled down for a nice couple of hours in front of the woodstove, leafing through the pages. It's totally my kind of thing, but I must confess to some disappointment. First of all, I found the range of work quite uneven, with some artists displaying great technical mastery and conceptual innovation, while others appeared to lack professional polish. Chalmers doesn't discuss his "curatorial" concept, other than mentioning the pushing of boundaries. The artists give their own blurbs, apparently in answer to a few stock questions. I would have much preferred a cogent discussion of why the artists were chosen, and in depth comment on some of the trends that are evident (the number of photographers and printmakers that add stitch to their images, the overuse of shocking images to transgress the cliche of female domesticity.)

I was very pleased to be introduced to the work of Lithuanian artist Severija Inciruskate-Kriauneviciene, who cross stitches on drilled metal buckets, shovels and car doors. As well, the rich, earthy and monumental work of Britain's Clyde Olliver, who combines stitch and slate, was an exciting discovery for me. Canada's Anna Torma and The Netherlands' Tilleke Schwartz are favourites of mine, and it was great to see new works of theirs included. The meticulous and refined graphic works of Peter Crawley of the UK, stitching on paper, were a standout for me too.

Although all of the artists included here can be found online, I like books. I can see taking Push Stitchery down from the shelf now and then for inspiration, and it's nice to have examples to show people who aren't familiar with current trends in embroidery and quilting. But I would recommend getting your library to order it and have a look before investing your own money in it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Something Amazing: Updated

I'm totally thrown off my blogging game by the move, recent gall bladder surgery, etc,etc. I even have a couple of posts in the can that I haven't published yet, 'cause I haven't got them right. But I just saw this amazing video that I must share with you. It totally blows my paltry excuses for not accomplishing what I would like to. It just went up on Youtube - the filmmakers will be remaining anonymous until the end of the week, when everyone will know about it, but here's a sneak preview. Here's the link:
Renaissance Man
It doesn't feature any textiles, but has everything to do with intention and possibility.

* Here's the update! The filmmaker, Kai Nagata, has now gone public with the film. Check it out here: Kai's blog. YOu might remember Kai from this past summer, when he made a splash quitting his high profile news reporter job. He's just 24 years old, and I think he made the right move.