The Wild Braid

I had a little show this past weekend. It was held at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, formerly the Women's Institute. I titled the show "The Wild Braid: Nature, Narrative, Textile Transformations", inspired by a poem by Stanley Kunitz, "The Snakes of September". I was thinking about how often we discuss things in terms of a dichotomy, but adding a third strand, as in a braid, introduces diversity and strengthens the whole.

Not Forsaken (2019) Patchwork, found cloth 62"x62"

Here's a virtual tour starting at the right as you enter the gallery. Above, the fabric came from a stack of pillowcases I found on the free shelf at our local charity shop. I challenged myself to use only these somewhat worn and woebegone fabrics. I allowed myself some vintage rickrack to liven things up.
Waking Dream, 2019. Found linens, embroidery, crochet. acrylic. 64"x64"
Above, my collection of vintage hand-crocheted potholders finally found a home. A Harris tweed backing supported a handwoven linen tablecloth with a crocheted edging that I found at the Lasqueti Free Store many years ago. The two panels about beauty and duty came from an antique store in Nanaimo. They had been embroidered in a drab brown thread, so I took the liberty of adding some colour with paint.

Edmund's Towel, 2019. Hand embroidery on found vintage linen, wood, hand forged hooks.
Next up is a reflection of my current state of environmental grief. The words come from King Lear, and are spoken by Edmund, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Gloucester, whose scheming has led to tragic ends. I don't expect anyone to get the reference but hope that the words resonate nonetheless.
Above: Samuel Beckett's Table Runner, Hand embroidery on vintage linen, 18"x44"
Below: Captain Beefheart's Table Runner, Hand embroidery on vintage linen, 18"x44"
These two pieces are simply quotes I couldn't get out of my head. Again, trying to find a path through the grief of seeing our world in such a desperate state.
After a Marsh Arab Design, 2017 Hooked wool recycled from discarded garments.
You might recognize this piece from a couple of years ago. I thought the design was of Indian origin, but discovered it was actually a Marsh Arab design. The Marsh Arabs lived in the wetlands of the Tigris-Euphrates basin, making their incredible homes and boats out of reeds. They were displaced during the Gulf War, when the marshes were drained for strategic military reasons. Yeah.

Chaos, Flow, Meanders 2019 Hand embroidery on linen, wool, silk and cotton threads 44"x68"
I have previously written about this piece here. The culmination of my series inspired by the Codex Canadensis. I went all out and had a custom stretcher and frame made.

For scale. The room is fairly small. I am indebted to Carol Fergusson for her professional expertise in hanging the show.

Above: Caroline Herschel's Doily, 2019 Found crocheted doily, hand embroidery on wool crepe, 22"x22"
Below: Eliza Carmen's Handkerchief, 2010 Hand embroidery on found linen 16"x16"
The last piece to be finished, only a day before the deadline, is a reversal of an early 1600's drawing of the universe. Depicted as a black square on a white ground, with the Latin words meaning "and so on unto infinity" on each side, its minimalism felt contemporary. When I found the doily with its nebula-like swirls, I knew exactly what to do with it. I titled it in honour of Caroline Herschel, who was trained only in needlework, because girls didn't need an education. She became her brother William's housekeeper, eventually helping him with his astronomical work and independently discovering comets and mapping the heavens.

For more on the one above, use this link

You have also seen this piece on the blog before, refresh your memory here.

left: Chemin de la Paix, 2016 Hand embroidery, wool on linen 40"x40"
right: Wheel of Life, 2016 Hand embroidery, wool and silk on cotton, 36"x36"
I wrote about "Chemin de la Paix" here and here. And the beginning of "Wheel of Life" is here.

In the centre of the room were two tables. One was a display of my crocheted hyperbolic forms that I am making for Mermaid Spring, and the other was full of pillows I made with thrifted wool fabrics and appliqued wool felt silhouettes of critters from the Codex Canadensis.

Care to leave a comment?


  1. What a lovely collection, you are such an eclectic artist with a voice for crucial issues.
    I particularly like the Marsh Arab hanging, it is beautiful and a tribute to the unlucky population.

  2. What a fabulous exhibition, I wish I could see it I the flesh.

  3. oh Heather, the show looks fantastic. Are you selling pieces? It would be hard to let some of them go. Hope all is well on your island paradise.

  4. what a fabulous collection of your work!

  5. fabulous, your art has so many different facets, but always the humour, love of fabrics and intelligence shine through

  6. What a lovely first visit to your blog! I especially enjoyed the complex and delicately coloured Chaos, Flow and Meanders and also Chemin de la Paix and Wheel of Life. How I would like to have seen them 'in the flesh' - not a possibility in the near future, alas.

    Having lived on Vancouver Island in the early 1970s and loved it, and having visited a few times since, I'm always interested to hear about the flourishing in BC.

    1. Thank you so much. Sorry, I just found your comment - I regret to be so tardy in acknowledging it.


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