My sewing table has a window where I can watch village life go by as I sew. My studio is in the top floor of our heritage home which was built in 1909 and has two of these original old single pane windows. The other one is filled with the branches and leaves of a big maple tree.
Last week I completed an arts project I have been facilitating over a period of a few months with a small group of home school students in my community. We held an exhibit at The Hidden Garden Gallery, our local gallery here in New Denver. The show of work included examples of workshops we did as well as our final group project. The ABCs of Community Arts Project provided an opportunity for a small group of Distributed Learning students from kindergarten through Grade 5 to explore their community and environment through art and the alphabet. This project was funded by ArtStarts in Schools and Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School.
Through facilitating a range of visual art experiences and local field trips I was able to guide children to represent key aspects of this place we share as home. DL students are home learners so parent participation was a vital component of this project. This ABC art project consisted of a series of full days, each day made up of art exercises, field trips and an art workshop which focused on a variety of arts media.
We began each day exploring with brush and ink key art elements such as texture charts of natural found objects, line used to express different kinds of weather and experimenting with freestyle lettering. Each student received an art journal which they used for recording visual observations as well as words and letters associated with places we visited on field trips.
Afternoon art workshops:
Shibori dyed textiles – shibori is a Japanese technique in which fabric is stitched or bound before dyeing so that when the bindings are released a pattern emerges. The field trip on this day was to the Nikkei Centre to learn about the internment of the Japanese people to this area.
Our main project was a culmination of all of their experiences and new skills learned. Working as a group, the children and some of their parents contributed letters of the alphabet in the form of block print designs. Each letter of the alphabet was used to represent elements of our community and natural environment. If you look carefully at each piece you will recognize many small but important details that add perspective when seen as a whole.
The Hidden Garden Gallery provided a beautiful intimate space for our show which we held over the busy May day week-end – May 19th to 21st,2012.
I am most grateful to the parents and teachers who gave me the opportunity to work with these amazing young students, to Arts Starts and Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School for the funding, to Lucerne School for providing us with classroom space, to The Hidden Garden Gallery for their beautiful gallery space and most of all to the awesome group of children I have had the pleasure of working with.
“Berberis Thunbergi” Don’t you love the sound of Latin names? I always enjoy discovering them when looking up names of plants and shrubs in my garden. Otherwise know as Japanese Barberry, this striking little shrub with it’s red berries and dark thorny branches in winter, was the inspiration for one of my latest textile prints.
I discovered the simple beauty of this shrub when I used it in an arrangement for my booth at a Christmas Fair. I was so struck by it’s dramatic dark branches and thorns contrasting the bright red berries that I made a pen and ink drawing of it and transferred that to a silkscreen. I’ve since used it as a layered design in skirts, tunics, table runners and napkins. I constructed this skirt of hand dyed linen rayon with a hemp silk satin finish on the hemline, waistband and tie. I discharge screen printed the first layer and then screenprinted a second layer in black textile paint.
I have a long history with insects in my art. It was many years ago in South Africa when I was doing a three year college art program that I first became fascinated with insects. Just across from the art school was the local museum. Many times when I became frustrated with whatever I was working on in the art studio, I would walk across the street and spend time alone in the quiet halls of the museum. I could be found making drawings or just contemplating in one of two places: the beehive with it’s busy little bees buzzing and working in their hive, or the dragonfly display cases. I loved to sketch the dragonflies even though many of them looked like they had crash landed and were rather mangled. I made a whole series of dragonfly etchings (intaglio and drypoint), whimsical drawings of dragonflies with helicopter wings. Some of these in fact became my first designs on textiles when I started with block prints years ago. I have since then created many textile screenprinting designs of butterflies, bees, dragonflies, beetles, moths and grasshoppers.
This newest design of a bee in a tulip is inspired by the bees in our garden. We keep our own beehives for honey and pollination of our large flower, fruit and vegetable garden. These sweet natured and hard working little creatures are my constant companions in the summer garden. I am fascinated by their strong curiosity – they love to investigate every nook and cranny they encounter. They play ‘hide and seek’ with me in the flowers, rocks and straw in my garden.
This organic cotton fluted skirt has been dyed and screenprinted by hand. The “Bee in Tulip” design has been printed in light blue round shapes created by using a shibori technique called itajime. Itajime uses clamped blocks to resist the dye leaving a pattern when the clamps are released.
This dusty pink and light ochre hand dyed linen cuff has a screenprinted design of sweet little bees on a cosmos flower in silver textile paint. There is a pretty shibori trim running down each side. The pink I have used here is almost identical to the actual colour of the cosmos flower.