Influences: Barbara Klunder

A while ago, I thought I might do a semi-regular series of posts about my influences. And since I've just spent a very pleasant half-hour browsing through images of the work of Barbara Klunder, I figured that she should be first.
Photo from the interview by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman
I knew of Barbara in the early '80's, when she was a hot designer and illustrator. I lived in Toronto at the time, and saw shows of her textile art that really made me go "Hmmm." Back then, I was working in the advertising and publishing fields as a graphic artist, and not doing any textile work myself. (Although I  remember doing a lot of clothing construction, making myself elaborate Claude Montana outfits from Vogue patterns.) I think Barbara's hooked rugs were so unusual, hip and quirky that the idea that textiles could say or do ANYTHING really took root in my mind.(I also remember an art director I worked with said that I reminded him of Barbara Klunder, which I took as quite a compliment, although I think he was referring to the way I dressed rather than my style of work.)

But lo, over the years, what have I done? I started with designing and knitting intarsia picture sweaters back in the '80's, moved into sculpture and installation in the '90's using textiles as a medium, did a series of allegorical portraits of marginal Canadian historical figures, have dabbled with paper cut illustration, and now I am hooking rugs. Looking over Barbara's far more illustrious career, I can see many parallels, or at least similar interests. She even lives on an island! I am happy to say that her work still impresses me, and in retrospect, I think she was quite an influence in my formative years.

A lovely and comprehensive interview with Barbara was done for the World of Threads festival, and you can find it here. There are lots of pictures too. A video interview can be found here.

She is represented by Toronto's David Kaye Gallery and Reactor Art+Design.


  1. Heather there is a wonderfully wry & thoughtful elegance in the Canadian aesthetic that you and Barbara share along with Judy Martin in the textile arts that also runs through the words of my favourite writers Margaret Atwood, Jane Urquhart & Joni Mitchell.
    (NB My mother was born in Quebec)

  2. I just went over to the world of threads interview and had a good read and look at those fabulous paper cuts and hooked rugs. Although I have been aware of her work and liked it, I have a new appreciation of her huge talent and drive.
    And yes - i can see a connection between your work and hers. Moving across many media, always with a social or historical message, always beautiful and interesting. Thanks for bringing this artist to our attention.


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