Saturday, June 19, 2021

Morse Code

 "Hooker's Code: Repeat" was the first piece I completed after the Morse code idea had been planted. I had just hand dyed four batches of cotton using logwood, osage, madder root and cochineal and I thought using a bulkier fabric would lessen the strain on my hands. It didn't (!) but it did serve as a great starting point for mixing cotton strips and wool. My mother and aunt were both home economics teacher, so while I was surrounding by sewers my entire life, I have no formal training with fibre. It's liberating, being able to explore a material with no preconceived ideas about how it should behave or be utilized. 

The top row is a light cotton sheet dyed with osage; I love the loose, unstructured loops that refuse to conform to the linen grid pattern. I'm also fond of the bits of thread that add complexity to the texture. The grey and blue wool strips come from Martina Lesar's beautiful studio in Caledon, a rural oasis that overflows with wool yardage, yarn, ribbon, patterns and rug hooking tools. The densely packed yellow (a cotton jersey) turned a soft buttery yellow that I really like. The hooker's code built into this piece can be seen at the bottom. Six little letters that define the craft: r-e-p-e-a-t

"Hookers Code: Repeat" just sold today, and will be shipped out to Victoria, BC on Monday. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Revisiting old work and finding new inspiration

I've spent a fair bit of time staring at this painting over the last 15 months. Not because I'm fixated with it, but because it's hanging in my living space...and it seems to be in front of me. All. The. Time. When I painted this back in 2007, I was commuting four days a week and at least three hours of my day was spent staring out of a Via Rail window. Those windows were thick triple pane glass, so a fair bit of condensation would form, muddling my view. After 6 years of commuting, those streaks of moisture between me and the landscape were etched into my mind. But this past year, as I reconsidered my painting, I wondered if those linear dribbles of paint could be something more. What if they were letters? A secret code? What hidden message would they share with the viewer?

As I ramped up my rug hooking in preparation for Art on the Street, I suffered a repetitive use injury that forced me to temporarily abandon my tools. But it allowed me to step back from the rug hooking process, grid patterns, and the tireless repetition that is required for any trade or craft.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. All those repetitive motions were both a blessing and a curse. (as I'm sure all housewives from decades before would agree). And then, like magic, I saw a post from my good friend Marc LaFoyHis freshly fired pot, with an incredible glaze pattern and a spark of an idea. The name? 'Shallow waisted Morse code vase'.

Ah-ha, I said to myself. I think I may have stumbled upon something...

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Art on the (Virtual) Street Version 2.0

It's that time of year again, folks! The 19th annual Art on the Street is a joint event between Guelph Arts Council and Downtown Guelph Business Association that features visual artists and craftspeople. Get yourself masked up and head downtown to show a little local love; numerous businesses are showcasing artwork and they'd love to welcome you back. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Art on the (Virtual) Street

Welcome to Guelph's unofficial launch of summer! I've helped out at this event for the last five years but I'm finally returning as a participant after a very long hiatus. 2007, to be exact. Way back then, the day involved morning sickness (me) and a torrential downpour (mother nature) but also incredible encounters with art lovers. While COVID-19 has forced this year's event to go virtual, there will be no shortage of sunshine and talent. Visit the official Art on the (Virtual) Street website to browse and shop online anytime between June 20 - July 4, 2020.

I'll be offering free delivery/curb-side pick up for all local purchases, and will also happily ship items at cost to those living outside of Guelph. Visit my online shop and email me to make arrangements.

Kudos to Guelph Arts Council and Downtown Guelph Business Association, who always do an incredible job hosting this event. 

Monday, June 08, 2020

Positive and Negative Space

Posting new work seems more than a bit frivolous when citizens around the globe are expressing outrage over the killing of George FloydOn Saturday, I attended the #BLM solidarity march organized by the Guelph Black Heritage Society. It was an incredibly powerful event, and being immersed in such a large group (particularly during a pandemic) forced me to reconsider freedom, movement, tension, pressure, and white space -- both as a design element and as a restriction to visible minorities. I suppose if these considerations inspire me to create artwork, then frivolous they are not. 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Hookers of the World Unite!

In the fall of 2018, I attended the Royal City Ruggers' weekly 'Books and Hooks' meetup at the Guelph Public Library. Knowing nothing about rug hooking, I was simply led by my curiosity to explore tactile materials. The RCR members are a lovely group with decades of hooking experience, and they happily offered me technique insight, supply contacts and loads of free cookies. For the last year, I've been galavanting with the Riverside Ruggers in Fergus, and their camaraderie emboldened me to design a few of my own pieces. (thanks for the encouragement Bear Epp!)

Thursday, February 20, 2020


It's impossible to know what ideas will be sparked by travel. Last March, I brought home a piece of dead coral (Solenastrea species?) from Soliman Bay, Mexico and it's spent the last year floating around the house in various locations. (fish tank, coffee table, rock collection jar...) Now it also occupies space in my sketchbook, on a carved lino block and on my bathroom wall. I'd love to see the mono print below as a large scale painting. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


This past June, Cadence Progressive Contemporary Ballet performed as a part of the 2012 Guelph Dance Festival. Their outdoor performance was brought indoors due to rain, and my late arrival forced me to sit up front with the media photographers. I'm normally a 'back of the bus' kind of gal, but my prime location gave me access to the best possible vantage.  This photo was snapped on my iPhone using TiltShift Gen, a free and surprisingly impressive app that allows for saturation and contrast adjustments, as well as vignetting. One lucky shot was transformed into a complex study in light, movement and contrast. I'm particularily pleased with the composition and colour; how the warm textured floor plays against the cool, angular dancers. (and look at those legs!) "Perform" was selected to be a part of the guelPhonography exhibition at Guelph Civic Museum, which runs until November 18. You've got a bit of time...go have a look!

Friday, May 20, 2011

CultureCamp Guelph

Ever since I attended Culture Camp at Kitchener City Hall in 2009, I've been keen on hosting a similar event to Guelph. 

I brought the idea to a brainstorming session with some local orgs, and to my pleasant surprise, my colleagues were game!

CultureCamp Guelph will take place on May 25, 2011 from 2-4pm at the River Run Centre, followed by a few friendly beverages between 4-5pm. It's an ‘unconference’ – a participant driven workshop that brings members of the creative community together to engage, learn and collaborate. This event is meant to generate new ideas and uncover a shared purpose regarding the local arts community, and more specifically, for Culture Days.

Many thanks go to Brock Hart for providing both the inspiration and encouragement...and for allowing us to adopt the name. CultureCamp Guelph is a free event! Everyone is welcome! Bring your fresh ideas, your business cards and your enthusiasm!

Friday, April 01, 2011

About this time last week...

...I arrived at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, only to find the tallest ladder ever made. Even more exciting was the art being created onsite. Three Toronto-based artists -- Nahúm Flores, Erik Jerezano and Ilyana Martínez -- bring their improvisational skills together in the exhibition 'Zotz', running now until the end of April. For god's sake, go!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jury Preparation for Visual Artists (and craftspeople too!)

Over the last few weeks, I've been working with the Guelph Arts Council to organize a panel discussion to assist visual artists with the application process. 

Guelph Arts Council and MSAC present
Jury Preparation for Visual Artists

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
MSAC Lecture Room
358 Gordon Street, Guelph

FREE (Pre-registration is mandatory)

We've got a stellar lineup of speakers and the workshop will be completely and absolutely free. Simply contact the Guelph Arts Council if you're interested in attending.

Artists and craftspeople from all disciplines are encouraged to attend this free and engaging workshop that will demystify the ever-so-fearful "Juried Application" process. Is my artist statement appropriate? Will the jury like my photos? Should my grant application contain the same information as my exhibition application?

Participants will hear from a knowledgeable panel of industry experts, and will have the opportunity to interact with fellow makers, share experiences and swap business cards. The following speakers will be present:

Greg Holman (Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition)
Greg is the Exhibition Coordinator for the TOAE. During his 25-year award-winning photography career, Greg produced international, national and regional advertising campaigns in Canada and the USA, and has exhibited his work in both Canada and Europe. Greg has assisted with key exhibitions including Ken Danby’s “Land, Water and Light”.

Lisa Wöhrle (Ontario Arts Council)
Lisa is the OAC’s Associate Visual Arts and Crafts Officer. She has also held positions in the areas of granting policy, administration and communication. Lisa has an Honours B.A. in Art and Art History from McMaster University.

Valerie Roy (One of a Kind Show)
Valerie is the Bilingual Exhibitor Relations & Recruitment Manager for the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. She deals directly with artists and craftspeople on a daily basis and has sat on juries for both the Spring and Christmas Shows, along with One of a Kind Vancouver.

Verne Harrison (Macdonald Stewart Art Centre)
Verne is the Gallery Coordinator at MSAC and an exhibiting artist. Verne was co-founder of the first student art gallery at University of Western Ontario, co-founder/coordinator of London’s Temporary City Gallery, co-founder/coordinator of AGOG Visual Arts and Media in Guelph, and has worked as the Education Assistant and Installation Supervisor of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto. He relocated to Guelph in 1992 to take the position of Preparator at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre which was then expanded to Gallery Coordinator in 1997, a position he still holds today.

Mary Calarco (Ontario Crafts Council)
I sit on the Board of Directors for the Guelph Arts Council and am the Southwestern Regional Coordinator for the Ontario Crafts Council. Before working for the OCC, I was the Marketing/Web Coordinator for the One of a Kind Show between 2001-2010.  I've sat on fine art/contemporary craft juries in both Canada and the USA. I'm an OCAD grad, artist and resident of Guelph and I'm thrilled to be acting as moderator for this discussion.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Culture Days at the Trafalgar Building was a big puddle of fun! Thanks to Pearl Van Geest for her inspiration, art supplies and glue-gun know-how.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Three Wednesdays ago...

...I found a seat on the crowded subway car, Yonge line southbound from Summerhill to Union. It was just after 5pm and the riders were anxious to get home. After a few minutes of sitting, I realized there was a scent in the air...familiar but distant in my memory. I finally recognized it as the scent of my mother. Not simply her perfume or her hairspray, but of her whole being. Like the waft of air that swirls between two bodies when someone gives you a giant hug. I breathed in the flour dust left on her apron after baking a batch of cookies. The smell of moisturizer that was kept to the right of the kitchen sink. The faint odour of cigarette smoke next to laundry detergent, dish soap and Fendi. The tarnished aroma of her gold jewellery. The unidentifiable smell of the garden mixed in with her happiness and optimism. I looked at all of the faces surrounding me, hoping to make some sense of it all, but nothing. Just a collection of blank stares and me with a giant lump in my throat. As soon as I exited it all vanished..

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rosalia Banet

Today I discoverd the artwork of Spanish artist Rosalia Banet (via Trend Hunter) and I'm once again feeling that there's nothing remotely unusual about me. In fact, I may even be a little bit boring.
On her blog Rosalia writes: "Last of all, I’d like to mention my most recent work, which under the name of “Carnicería Love” takes us to a butcher shop of human meat. The Carnicería Love (The Love Butcher’s) is a place where feelings are cooked. The women in Carnicería Love (in the photos, drawings and video) may, on first sight, appear to be preparing dishes with the bodies of other human beings. However, it is in fact, their own hearts that they pull out, chop, sauté and roast. In other words, they are cooking themselves."

Put your bib on and view one of her YouTube videos here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gareth Bate

Ahhh, penance. Been there, done that.
But not quite as gracefully as Gareth...

Friday, June 01, 2007

"Cloud Gate"

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend an entire afternoon lounging around Chicago’s Millenium Park. The grounds themselves are quite fantastic (spanning almost 25 acres) but the highlight for me was seeing Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate”, a massive bean-shaped sculpture that seamlessly reflects the Chicago skyline.

Drawing its inspiration from liquid mercury, Kapoor's installation was constructed out of stainless steel plates so people could “see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work.” Brilliant, how the background comes to the forefront, allowing pedestrians to become active participants in the magnificent view that surrounds them. Best of all? Lone tourists never have to worry about being excluded from a photograph.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Graffiti Research Lab

Like any work of art, when graffiti is done well, it's a thing of beauty. 

Now that the City of Toronto has heightened the bylaws under the Graffiti Abatement Program, I've been noticing more and more dreary patches of grey on the way into Union Station. All those colourful tags are being covered up by someone who clearly doesn't know how to handle a roller, and things are looking worse that they did 6 months ago. I usually like Mayor Miller, but I'm not convinced that this type of censorship (along with his anti-postering by-laws) will reduce crime.

Graffiti Research Lab's colourful answer to 'urban communication' is brilliant. Their LED Throwies video is a beautifully romantic approach to reclaiming public space. 

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Artist Trading Cards

Originating in Zurich in 1997 the Artist Trading Card project was initiated by M. Vänçi Stirnemann as a “collaborative cultural performance”. That may sound a bit hokey, but the premise is simple; individuals create original works of art within the confines of a 2.5 x 3.5 piece of cardstock and they gather with other card producers in order to trade. For whatever reason, this idea has grown into an ongoing global event.

I began participating back in 2003 when the monthly exchanges were being hosted over at the Ontario Crafts Council. I wasn’t painting at the time and I found it kept my imagination active while I coasted through my dry spell. The sessions also allowed me to meet with other creative types that sat outside of my realm of experience. Fibre artists and furniture makers, painters and computer geeks, housewives and college kids…it’s quite a diverse group of strangers, which is exactly what makes it exciting. You wouldn't believe some of the crazy cards in my collection.

Toronto ATC sessions are now held over at the Gladstone Hotel on the third Wednesday of each month. All are welcome, trading is free, and no one takes attendance. :)