Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Art with the Needle

Life is a treasure to embrace every day. The longer we experience it the more opportunity we have to understand the essence of its presence. Our choices and circumstances along the way create our unique lives.
As a young woman I moved to the Arctic, and lived in a small Inuit village Kangiqsualujjuaq located in the far north above the 57th parallel. During those 2 years I experienced great personal growth. Several of the village women became my close friends. They inspired and taught me to work with the needle and thread. I hand sewed my family’s mitts, boots, hats and an eleven-person canvas tent with their guidance. Finding that quiet time in my head and gaining patience, allowed me to discover the worth of hand sewing. Decorating my creations with wool embroidery became my new form for artistic expression.

On one winter day I went out with my friend to make tea; a social Inuit tradition. The deep snow was up to our calves, as we walked outside the village towards the trees. Sometimes we capture moments in our minds that carry us throughout our life. This was one of those moments. My friend far ahead now, had created a trail of footprints so deep and defined. I stood there in awe and snapped the moment with my camera. Every step we make leaves an imprint and a direction for our future. Knowing this I have been aware of the path I create every day. My decisions and actions have brought me to a place of gratitude. Creativity has been an important part of my happiness. My studio atelier here in downtown Toronto is a sanctuary which breathes new inspiration every day.

The fiber art series that began last year opened many doors of friendship as well as creative process.
"The Elements"
is a narrative directed project series to inspire us.

Creative process originates from our thoughts. The intention is first, method follows and achievement is the final expression of the journey. I truly enjoy all three parts. Each brings forth challenges and offers us a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Through experience I have come to understand more about the positive state of mind that can be achieved while working with needlecraft. One is able to let go, experience the present and appreciate it. When we release our many constant thoughts and only focus on the stitch, we are able to be one with the moment and reach an inner peace. This is what the stitch can do for anyone who is looking to quiet their minds and create a lasting beauty with their hands. I believe our fast pace culture can truly benefit from this.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Thread and Needle

My earliest memory of fiber art was a small yarn doll I made at the age of 6. She became my favourite play character. I remember the delight of seeing her complete; 2” tall made from a fine light blue yarn. I glued a set of paper eyes and smile to complete her identity. As a child I had the freedom of discovery. The conception of creating a masterpiece was not in my equation. Without fear one can create with a confidence.

My love of embroidery began in the 60s when I was age 10. Young people were pulling out their needle and thread. Both genders were stitching iconic symbols of love and peace. It was the age of Aquarius and flower power was in. I had just been given my first pair of jeans and on my front right hip pocket I created my first embroidery work. It was a blazing golden sun with curling rays. I can still remember feeling proud about completing this design.

For the past 18 years I have created one of kind cut and sewn hats. My life partner William S Brown and I have established Gwendolyne Hats here in Toronto Canada. As artists we have been lucky to live by our creative intentions. I have always been passionate about the warp and weave of the fabric. Symbolic of the passage of our lives and the events they carry along the way.

My hat designs The Rusalka and The Anoushka are distinguished by hand embroidery. Hand stitching fine wool yarns on the woven wool offers a great narrative expression. Embroidery allows minutia to be expressed. It also brought me to be passionate for 19th century buttons. On any winter day wearing my own Anoushka is always uplifting, as many will send me a smile when they admire it.

Paint and brush, thread and needle, both create art. The gender of the artist brought the artwork to notoriety not the medium. Any thing attached to woman’s work was not given the recognition like that of a man’s. Sadly great-embroidered works do not have the signature of the artist. They’re initials may sewn in, but not much more is recorded about them. Today the public and private Art collections are celebrating this medium to its rightful place.

I created fiber artworks for Toronto’s Museum of Textiles over four years. Each one was a time capsule of my life at the time. In the order of the years they’re titles are: Femme Petalle, My Fathers Garden, P’tah, and Good Vibrations. Donated for their Annual Shadowbox fundraiser it was a very cathartic experience for me.

I feel both alive and grounded when I create with my hands. Finding the time to create for ones self can be challenging in our busy lives.

Last year I brought a personal dream into reality. I established a fiber art course series titled “The Elements”. The intention in this blog is to share with you the stories and journeys of this magical Atelier experience. May the stories inspire your life.


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