26 March 2020

SAQA Benefit Auction submission - Fiona Oxford

Fiona Oxford has submitted the first entry from Atlantic Canada for this year's SAQA Benefit Auction.

Random by Fiona Oxford 2020 12"x12"
Artist's Statement: I started making this as a larger piece and then decided that the circles needed to be closer. Then I started slicing and dicing and came up with “Random”.

The deadline for submissions to the 2020 Benefit Auction is June 1 and each piece must be exactly 12"x12".  You can find more information on the auction here.  The auction will start on the SAQA website in September.

27 February 2020

Welcome to my Studio: Aprille Janes, Margaretsville, Nova Scotia

Winter by Aprille Janes (2020) 

I’ve just become an art quilter! Fabric and thread have once again become my primary means of creative expression after many years as a watercolour painter. I taught myself to sew as a child by carefully following the patterns my (non-sewing) mother bought for me. Later, as a young mother myself, I took classes and made a few quilts for family. But sewing faded from my life over time. My career required considerable travel so I took up watercolour painting, a more portable medium. Then last summer my love for all things fibre was rekindled when a friend invited me along to an art quilting workshop.

My husband and I moved back to the East Coast about three years ago. Our “new” home was originally a general store, built in 1893. In the 1960s it was a restaurant with a detached dining hall. When we bought it, it had been converted to a private home. The dining hall was in such bad shape that we were advised to tear it down, but we saw possibility. One year later, the hall had been transformed into a teaching space and a spacious painting studio, with soft northern light and long views of the Bay of Fundy. Because the building is situated on a slope it feels a little like being on a boat. I spent my days painting and teaching there, glancing up from my work to watch the waves and tide, so incredibly inspiring.

Lunenburg Dories by Aprille Janes w22"xh16"

But then, after that art quilting workshop last summer, my fibre art took over the classroom space! I set up “zones” for painting, machine and hand sewing and computer work. It’s wonderful to be able to move between activities without having to take down and set up. I usually have two or three projects on the go, allowing me to take my time with a piece. If I find myself rushing just to finish or feel that I might be overworking an area, I step away and do something else. This is important to my process and I’m thankful the studio supports this approach.

On sunny days, my studio is so bright that I don’t need artificial lighting. For the not so sunny days, we installed four full spectrum LED lights on the ceiling plus spotlights over my work table. Just for fun, I have twinkle lights running along the top of my shelving units. 

I’m most happy when my tools and materials are organized and visible (though the actual work can be chaotic!). Because I like to see what my choices are, I display my materials on a mix of shelving units from Ikea and pieces my husband refinished. 

My fabrics are wound on acid-free comic book backing boards and held in place with clips. The bolts sit on shelves like a mini-fabric store, taking up less room than they did when folded and stacked. 

While my good cotton threads are organized on a rack, my other threads and button collection are stored in antique mason jars. Baskets hold ribbons, antique laces and scraps. Right now, I’m looking for a better, more visible way to organize my scraps because they’ve become important to the work I’m doing. 

I found my Bernina 930 sewing machine on Kijiji, totally refurbished and complete with all the accessories and clamshell case. It enables my creative expression just as my paintbrushes do. It sews like a dream, never jams, and has all the features I need.

The one thing I would add to my studio if I could is a sink with running water. Bringing water to the studio in a bucket is fine for watercolours, but I’ve moved on to painting and mono-printing on fabric and I plan to work with dyes and cyanoprints come summer, so a wet studio would be ideal. 

I feel like I’m still an art quilt newbie, experimenting with different methods of expression. Yet the design principles I learned as a painter serve me well in textile work and my old sketchbooks are a rich source of ideas for my new medium. I’m drawn to the colour, embellishment and tactile quality of the fibre, which are deeply satisfying to me. 

I’m currently making a series of four original wall hangings inspired by Robert Frost’s poem Birches:
So was I once myself a swinger of birches. 
And so I dream of going back to be.

Fall by Aprille Janes (2020) 

Once this series is complete, I would like to re-create some of my original paintings in fibre, and design some new work with the goal of eventually submitting a piece to a SAQA call for entry.  

Thanks for dropping by my studio…



Read more about Apprille Janes and her artwork on her website Aprille Janes: Life, Art and Inspiration. You can also follow Aprille Janes on Instagram

19 February 2020

A Virtual Exhibition

We last posted about the wonderful works that will be on tour for 3 years as part of the two “Colour with a U” exhibitions.  As is always the case, there were many more entries than the exhibition space could accommodate. We decided that the other entries from Atlantic Canada deserve to be shown.  So here they are, with statements from the artists.  Enjoy!

Tree of Diversity by Kathy Tidswell w 22"x h36"

Tree of Diversity detail 

Kathy Tidswell, Artist Statement:  My mythical tree reflects the diversity in my community by using different colours and species to reflect races.  Look for an Olympic medalist, a Juno award winner, first player to break NHL colour barrier, founding president of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Canada and first First Nations Lieutenant Governor. 

MacKay Barns Imagined by Deb Plestid w42"x h25"

MacKay Barns detail
Deb Plestid Artist Statement: In the winter months, the MacKay barns are imposing, weathered, grey structures set against a steel grey sky on a snow covered field.  I imagine them in their early days boldly boasting their colour against a Spiddle Hill sunset. 

The largest barn was built near Spiddle Hill, Nova Scotia, circa 1834.  Owned by the MacKay family for seven generations, these silent sentinels are emblematic libraries - symbolic bearers of knowledge, memory, optimism and cooperation.  They bear witness to  innovative skills, industriousness and self-sufficiency; where form followed function and buildings were constructed from readily available timber and stone.

Unique Identities 2 by Regina Marzlin w24.5"by h41"

Unique Identities detail
Regina Marzlin, Artist StatementWe have the same basic fabric, our shared humanity.  But we all have different backgrounds, our origins, our experiences, memories, different conditions growing up, etc.. We all have our own colour, that which makes us unique. Some of us stand more out than others, some are more subtle, some blend in. Some are a bit frayed around the edges. But we are all unique individuals, with different outlooks and our own story. To me, this piece celebrates the diverse identities that make up our society and enrich our lives. The more colours the better.

Unravelling, Unliveable, eXtinction. It's Up to Us
by Susan Lilley  w38" x h41"
Unravelling, Unliveable, eXtinction. 
It's Up to Us detail
Susan Lilley, Artist Statement: Canada's diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity are under attack. This piece illustrates the global climate crisis, from melting polar ice caps to raging equatorial fires. As one scientific report after another reveals ever stronger evidence, people around the world are taking to the streets demanding action. This growing popular movement is conveyed by both the bold, coloured letters and the more subtle, quilted words of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

As a Raging Granny I’ve been in many climate marches, singing protest songs about the issue. The song that inspired this quilt ends with the words: It’s really Up to all of Us: You and You and You. Our response to climate change must include everyone. There’s no planet B!

Reflections on Mortality by Audrey Feltham w37"x h25"
Reflections on Mortality detail
Audrey Feltham Artist Statement: This art quilt is one in a series of small pieces that I am currently working on.  Thematically they explore the theme of quotidian, the everyday objects and practices that make up the fabric of our cultural existence.  The imagery in this piece comes from artifacts from my late Mother’s home which she left at the age of 95.  She then moved to a retirement home.  The artwork covers a span of her life from 1930  when she was a teenager to her last days.  On the one hand it is a celebration of her life, reflected in the choice of color and tone in the centre square, but also a documentation of what it meant for her to grow old and dependent.  The xis rectangles that occupy the upper and lower sashing are from an autograph diary dated 1930.

Necessity of Survival by Audrey Feltham w 35" x h 29"

Necessity of Survival detail
AudreyFeltham Artist Statement:  This small art quilt is part of a series of smaller works that I am currently completing.  Thematically they deal with quotidian, the everyday objects and traditions that are the underlying fabric of a particular culture determined by place and time.  The 12 center images of the quilt are screen prints of a condiment jar that belonged to my deceased Mother.   It was used in our house for horse radish, a condiment that was inexpensive since it literally grew wild on our farm.  Mom harvested it, ground it and made her own horseradish.  Our meals were simple and “extras” like condiments relatively unheard of unless they could be produced for literally nothing.  The detail is of a hand embroidered decal of Amorica Rusticana (horseradish).  Text and printed image of the horseradish adorn the side panels.  Text reads:  “AMORICA RUSTICANA.  The sharp edge /Of bored days/Made inconsequential/By repetition/

U R Colour by Anne Morrell Robinson w50"x h55"

U R Colour detail

Anne Morrell Robinson Artist Statement: I never understood why some people are called "coloured" when we all are made up of many colours on the inside and outside. We should celebrate all the colours that make this world a beautiful place.

Canadiana Suite: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson 
by Cathy Drummond w28"x h24"

Canadiana Suite: A Tribute to 
Oscar Peterson detail
Cathy Drummond Artist Statement: Canada’s huge, diverse landscape molds our national character. This relationship of landscape to culture is expressed beautifully by Oscar Peterson’s Canadiana Suite, written for Canada’s centennial. The music expresses happy national pride, the variations of landscape and people in each region, yet also expresses our commonality. 

The ovals in the piece represent the 8 parts of the Suite:  Ballad to the East, Laurentide Waltz, Place St. Henri, Hogtown Blues, Blues of the Prairies, Wheatland, March Past, and Land of Misty Giants. 

The Pond by Helen Blanchette w36"xh36"

Helene Blanchette Artist Statement: My world is deeply coloured by the land and the natural world where I live in the Highlands of Cape Breton. It is this land, steeped in beauty and dramatic, changing moods, that informs my every day and imbues my art. With this piece I have tried to capture the many changing moods of the Highlands.  

Picnic on the Mound by Helene Blanchette w20"xh20"
Helene Blanchette Artist Statement: I am a Folk Artist from Nova Scotia and my world is deeply coloured by the land where I live in the Highlands of Cape Breton. It informs my everyday, seeps into my soul, and frames my art.  It is from this land that I find my stories. It is a vast land that tolerates our humanity if only to return to itself once we have passed through. This is a picture of me and my husband having a little picnic in our yard. 

17 February 2020

Chickadees for a wintery day

Feeding the  Chickadees by
Holly MacLean w12"xh14"

Holly MacLean of Bathurst, New Brunswick, recently completed two wintery pieces entitled Feeding the Chickadees. 

Feeding the  Chickadees by
Holly MacLean w12"xh14"

HM: These are my two chickadees. They were done as a commission. The client chose to buy the second one.

You can see more of Holly's textile work on her blog, Through my Window.

09 February 2020

Colour with a U -- Five successful entries from Atlantic Canada!

The jury has spoken and the results are in! Five members of SAQA Atlantic Canada recently received word that their pieces were selected for the SAQA regional exhibition, Colour with a U: Hélène Blanchet, Kristi Farrier, Linda Mackie Finley, Regina Marzlin and Andrea Tsang-Jackson.

Colour with a U is timed to open during this year's SAQA Conference, being held for the first time in Canada. Entries were solicited from all Canadian SAQA members. The theme: Diversity and Inclusion. Jurors for the show received 173 entries and selected 45 of these to hang in either Colour with a U or a sister show, Colour with a U Too! 

Congratulations to all our members who answered the call for Colour with a U. Here is a sneak peek at the selected entries.

Garden on the Hill
Hélène Blanchet, of Margaree Valley NS

Detail of Garden on the Hill, by Hélène Blanchet
"I am a Canadian gardener. I live in a vast, beautiful landscape, and like all gardeners I am determined to tame it – no matter what the land throws at me. The season is short, the soil is acidic, the winds are fierce. But I plod on, determined to make my mark. Such is the Canadian gardener. This is me, going off to work in my garden, hoping against all odds that the deer haven’t had too big a breakfast this morning."

LatitUde and AttitUde  
Kristi Farrier of Middle River NS

Detail of LatitUde and AttitUde by Kristi Farrier 

"I believe placing an importance on inclusion and celebrating diversity is fundamental for a just society. In Canada we get it right sometimes. I wonder why and think it must be about a little latitude and a whole lot of attitude."

36 Million Stories; The Colour of Us
Linda Mackie Finley of Halifax NS

Detail of 36 Million Stories; The Colour of Us
by Linda Mackie Finley
"We are all immigrants in this country; even our indigenous peoples, in the distant past, were newcomers. We have the choice, and power, to steer our own course, if only we will."

The Here & Elsewhere Bee
Andrea Tsang Jackson of Halifax NS
Quilting by Sheri Lund. Photo credit: Deborah Wong

Detail of The Here & Elsewhere Bee, by Andrea Tsang Jackson
"The Here and Elsewhere Bee compiles 1,197 immigration stories. The project is a collaborative quilt, inspired by the children’s storybook Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt by American-born writer Barbara Smucker. Each of the blocks was completed by a visitor to the Canadian Museum of Immigration, representing a bit of each visitor’s immigration narrative. The blocks are grouped by thematic “trees” — family, love, freedom and diversity, cultural references, hopes and dreams, nature, agriculture and work, and oceanic journeys. The quilt’s overall organization illustrates how, although each of our stories are unique, there are strong threads that tie them together."

Same/Different (Hommage to Jawlensky)
Regina Marzlin of Antigonish NS

Detail of Same/ Different (Hommage to Jawlensky),
by Regina Marzlin
"Inspired by the colourful U-shaped portraits of the Russian painter Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941). The way he painted portraits in a very formal, stylized and abstract way spoke to me because in spite of the reduction to the most basic common features of a human face we can see so many differences between them. Each head has its own character. The shared human basics can be found in all of us."

Colour with a U will debut in March 2020 at the Homer Watson Gallery in Kitchener ON and will subsequently travel across Canada. Stay tuned for details!

01 February 2020

Spotlight on Helene Blanchet

Winter in the North Atlantic by Helene Blanchet (2020) w6"xh8"

Winter in the North Atlantic, a Spotlight Auction contribution made by Helene Blanchet of Margaree Valley, Cape Breton NS, came in just under the wire! Here's what Helene has to say about her whimsical piece:

HBI love winter. I imagine the fishes in the North Atlantic do too. That's why they're smiling.

You can see more of Helene Blanchet's work on the Fibre Art Network, here.


The Spotlight Auction

Spotlight contributions will be sold through a silent auction that will take place on March 21st at the 2020 SAQA Conference in Toronto. All proceeds will benefit SAQA's exhibition programs and other outreach.

Today is the final day for registering Spotlight Auction contributions, but if you've already done that, it isn't too late to post an image on the SAQA Atlantic blog!

Thank you to all 12 auction contributors who shared their work with our readers.

28 January 2020

Spotlight on Kristi Farrier

Watching from the Sidelines #3 by Kristi Farrier (2020) w6"xh8"

Kristi Farrier, of Middle River, Cape Breton (NS), has contributed Watching from the Sidelines #3 to this year's Spotlight Auction. Here's what Kristi has to say about it:

KF: You wonder when your children will grow up and then – BAM! – it’s happened and you’re watching from the sidelines drinking coffee and reading the Saturday paper comics.

Kristi Farrier is SAQA Atlantic Canada's Regional Coordinator. Read more about Kristi on Instagram and on her blog, Mirth 365.