15 February 2019

Reflections from our Curator

Heather Loney joined SAQA in 2011, after seeing a SAQA trunk show at a Mayflower Guild retreat. She has since participated in all three SAQA Atlantic exhibitions and was curator for our most recent travelling show, Transitions. Today, Heather shares some of her thoughts about her curatorial experience and some suggestions for future curators. 


Publicity for Transitions, artwork by Helene Blanchet

How would you describe the role of curator for SAQA Atlantic exhibitions?

There are several roles involved in running an art show for SAQA Atlantic.

The first involves the art pieces: Selecting and describing the theme, deciding on the number, size and form of pieces to be accepted, dates for entries, jury completion and receiving artwork. Later, seeking help from members for getting the pieces to and from the galleries as well as hanging and taking down the shows.


Another role deals with the galleries: Researching gallery requirements and preparing proposals accordingly; adjusting to their timelines and maintaining contact both before and during the shows.


A third role is publicity: Creating a poster and written material to inform the public about the exhibits. 



What have you learned about the value of these exhibitions to SAQA members? 

For many of our members, selling art quilts is their livelihood. Not only do our shows help them reach a public market for their work, but they also educate the public about quilts as art.


What did you most enjoy about the role of curator?

I had the most fun walking quietly behind visitors as they examined the art pieces, eavesdropping on their conversations. I overheard many comments like “Wow! I didn’t know quilts could be art.” Or “Look at the work on this piece. Isn’t it amazing!”

It was rewarding to make some good connections in the Maritime art world. I also enjoyed being a tourist in places I hadn’t visited, during the few hours leading up to each show opening.  



What was the most difficult or frustrating aspect of the work?

Nothing was particularly difficult. For me, the biggest challenge was being responsible for the whole show myself. Although I frequently checked in with our regional rep, Regina Marzlin, all decisions were mine. All contact and contracts with SAQA and the galleries, collection of the artwork and preparation for hanging, as well as transportation to and from their destinations, and eventually to the buyers, was up to me. I didn’t realize until part way through our show that some galleries didn’t do a lot to advertise our show, so that task can fall on the curator as well.

On the up side, my studio underwent a good cleaning and decluttering so I could store the collection (between shows) and all the mailing boxes.



Do you have any advice regarding the curation of future SAQA Atlantic shows?

I think the next show should be curated by a team of two or better, three, people: one to manage the artwork, another, the galleries and a third for publicity. Tasks such as handling sales and transportation could be shared by the team. 

It would also be nice if the next show could be seen more widely across the region. Our first show, Rooted, hung in three galleries in NS; our second show, Structures, was shown in five galleries, including NS, NB and PEI. The Transitions tour included four galleries in two provinces: NS and NB. None has been to Newfoundland.

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We are grateful to Heather Loney for curating our latest and most successful show, and for sharing that experience with us here. Stay tuned to our blog for an upcoming feature of Heather’s own artwork.


Halifax in Transition 1: View from Citadel Hill, Halifax
by Heather Loney w28"x h29"



Spotlight on Fiona Oxford

Glorious Geckos by Fiona Oxford (2019)


Glorious Geckos, by Fiona Oxford of Waverley NS, is our 4th entry into the 2019 Spotlight Auction. Fiona spends much of the winter in Sarasota, Florida.


Here's what Fiona told us about her contribution:
I see these wonderful Geckos everywhere I walk in Sarasota. They have become my muses.





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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.


The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on our blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

05 February 2019

Spotlight on Holly McLean

Holly McLean, of Bathurst NB contributed Chickadee Friend on the Snowshoe Trail to the 2019 Spotlight Auction.

Chickadee Friend on the Snowshoe Trail by Holly McLean


Here's what Holly told us about her contribution:

This is a chickadee that has been eating sunflower seeds from my hand. Feeding birds always brings me joy, especially when I’m out on a trail and they come to my hands.   

You can read more about Holly McLean and her artwork on her blog Through my Window, and on our own 2017 feature
Holly McLean Interview: Overcoming Distance and Isolation. 

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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.


The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on the SAQA Atlantic blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

03 February 2019

Artist Julea Boswell talks about her new inventory system and online portfolio

Avant Garde 2 by Julea Boswell w8" x h16"
SAQA Atlantic member Julea Boswell, from Frenchfort PEI (and Ottawa ON) recently launched her online portfolio on a platform called Artwork Archive.  

Julea is an abstract acrylic and mixed-media artist, a modern quilt designer-maker and a part-time contemporary dance company manager. 

Last week, Julea had a chat with Cathy Drummond, about her experience with Artwork Archive.

See Julea's new portfolio: 
www.artworkarchive.com/profile/julea-boswell


Julea, how did you come to choose Artwork Archive as your online presence?

JB:  Actually, I was searching for a simple art inventory system before even realizing it would serve the purpose of also being a public portfolio. Last fall, when I was making several submissions of my work, the job of pulling together all the details for the submissions from scratch each time became a real chore. It was cumbersome finding files, remembering which image was the latest perfectly-cropped final version, finding the details of the piece, dimensions, specific materials used, pricing and so on. My files were a mix-mash! All of a sudden I’d reached a tipping point and had a large enough body of work that I really needed a system to view all my work in one place and have everything readily at-hand. It occurred to me there must be some ready-made web tools and sure enough I found Artwork Archive. 


How many pieces do you have on the site? 

JB: I have 32 loaded in my inventory right now. But there are older ones I'll eventually add, such as the functional quilts I made before I started making art quilts and paintings. With Artwork Archive, you have the option to make a piece public, or not, with a simple checkbox. My priority was to get the ones I wanted to show publicly on the site first.

How simple is Artwork Archive to use?

JB: If you can drag and drop images and fill out an online form, it's literally that easy! Once you load a couple of pieces, you really get to know it. There's a drop-down menu where you can choose the status of the work too: in progress, available, sold, destroyed, archived, etc.


Is it expensive?

JB: It's free for the first month with up to 50 pieces. That was fine for me to get started. There are then 3 levels of payment. The cheapest, at US$6 per month, allows people to whom you give your URL to view your site, and that's what I have for now. If you want your work to be available to anyone searching your name, it’s US$12 a month.  


Is there a way to back-up or download your files if you need to, for example if Artwork Archive should no longer meet your needs?

JB: All the main data items are fully exportable. You have the option to export to a CSV or Excel file anytime. 

How does it work as an online portfolio?

JB: This is what I think is really great. I was at the point where I knew I should be creating a website, but it seemed like a bigger job than I had time for right now. As soon as I saw that Artwork Archive could be a public portfolio too - and the portfolios I looked at were all great - I just went for it. Every time I add a new piece to my inventory it can become part of my public portfolio with one click. Another thing I find really good is the way you can organize the work by "collections". I work in different mediums and my work is varied in style. I wanted to find a way to present both my art quilt pieces and my other work in a cohesive way. 


Screenshot, Artwork Archive


So, am I right to say that you would recommend Artwork Archive to our readers as both an archive and a web presence?

JB: For sure. If you're an artist who would like to create an online presence, don’t hesitate. New tools like this make it easy and allow you to work along at your own pace. The biggest job is the initial upload so don't delay, the more pieces you have the bigger the job becomes!

Julea, thank you so much for introducing us to this interesting tool.  It certainly sounds easy and useful.


Improv Curves 1-2-3 by Julea Boswell w8" x h8"


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Thank you to both Julea and Cathy for producing today's blog post. We always welcome members' submissions.

30 January 2019

Spotlight on Regina Marzlin

Perseverance by Regina Marzlin (2019) 

Title: Perseverance
Description: Standing tall in the face of obstacles, being purposeful and resolute.
Techniques: Monoprinting, painting, hand stitching

Regina Marzlin's term as SAQA representative from Atlantic Canada will soon be coming to an end. Regina, we've accomplished so much under your leadership! Thank you for everything you've done to expand and strengthen our community, and best wishes for your future endeavours. 

You can read more about Regina Marzlin and her artwork on her website Regina Marzlin Fibre Art and on our own 2016 feature, Regina Marzlin interview: Textile collages, pieced, layered and stitched.



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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.

The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on the SAQA Atlantic blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!


23 January 2019

Spotlight on Kathy Tidswell

Kathy Tidswell, from Burtts Corner NB, is the first Atlantic Canada artist to feature her 2019 SAQA Spotlight Auction contribution.


Blowing in the Breeze by Kathy Tidswell (2019) w6" x h8"

Here's what Kathy told us about her contribution:

KT: I sun printed on metallic paint in shades of blue and copper and stitched in metallic threads around the sun printed leaf shapes using blue and copper on the inverse colours.

You can read more about Kathy Tidswell and her artwork on her website Kathy Tidswell Fibre Artist, and on our own 2018 feature
Kathy Tidswell Interview: Painter, Quilter, Teacher.

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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.

The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on the SAQA Atlantic blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

16 January 2019

Laureen van Lierop interview: Embracing her inner fool

Yellow Bowl (detail) by Laureen van Lierop (2017) w8" x h9" 

Laureen van Lierop is a multi-talented textile artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her work reflects her sense of humour as well as her love of embroidery, nature and gardening. Laureen has a BA in dance from the University of Waterloo and is also an award-winning writer. 

Laureen’s first solo show was titled Nature and Nurture. She has contributed to the Nova Scotia textile art scene by curating or co-curating several exhibits, for example: Healing Gardens (2005), Talking Threads (2001) and Layered Intentions (2000). More recently, she played a lead role in organizing the latest SAQA retreat and has volunteered to organize next year’s event.

For over ten years Laureen has volunteered at Halifax’s Out of the Cold homeless shelter, one of her many non-textile volunteer activities.


How would you describe your textile work?

I create stitched pieces with embroidery, applique, beads and bits of lace, paper and found objects. My work tends to be small. Often it’s meant to drape against a wall. Other times, it’s three dimensional. Dolls, vessels and books are my favourite forms of this expression. As I work, I include some hints of a story, but I rarely work with explicit narrative subjects. 

My work hasn’t any political or social message. Instead, I search for the comical or whimsical. I believe that humour softens life’s blows, allowing difficult experiences to become a journey to better relationships.


Vine Girls by Laureen van Lierop (2015) w10" x h12" 

Describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles. 

I learned embroidery as a four-year-old from my paternal Oma, who was a Master Embroiderer in Holland. Stitching later took a back seat as I expressed my creativity through dance and floral arranging. Eventually, seeking a creative outlet as a young mother, I moved back into textiles.

It began with a small cabinet of outgrown children’s clothing. I sat on the nearby stairs to stitch while my two young children were in the bathtub. That worked out well, the light was good and I was close enough to hear what was going on in the tub.

I joined quilt guilds but never felt quite at home there. My work evolved differently. Even my vocabulary of techniques became different. So nearly 20 years ago I was involved in starting a group originally called the Fibre Arts Collective (now unofficially known as the Quilt Mafia). I also began curating, as a means of creating opportunities for diverse textile artwork to be shown. 

Since 2014, I’ve been following contemporary embroiderer Karen Ruane’s online courses. Karen has opened a huge door for me and has had a major influence on my stitch vocabulary, composition, texture and titivation.


Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?


My work is inspired by my love of flowers, nature and gardening. I have 10 years of my own sketches for inspiration.

But each piece really begins with colour. Whether I’m working on a piece for the wall, a doll or a book, I choose a group of colours that appeal and create a huge pile of various materials that might work. I walk around it for days or weeks until I get an urge to edit to a smaller pile (and repeat). When the collection feels more manageable, I put the materials into a nice basket or container and let it simmer, often looking through my sketchbooks for ideas. Sooner or later I pick up a needle and get stitching, often starting with a curved line or two, and then working as the spirit moves me. I enjoy the controlled chaos of the creative process and welcome an unexpected left turn. If I get too intellectual or intentional the work begins to tighten and feel wrong.


Path One by Laureen van Lierop (2017) w11" x h"

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can find a spot? 

I’ve always worked wherever I could find a spot: the stairway, the space in front of the washing machine, our bedroom. One day I realized the family room was no longer being used by anyone and I seized it. At last I have a studio! My worktable sits by a beautiful north-facing window overlooking the garden. I adore it.


What are you currently working on and why?

Lately I’ve been embroidering little narrative sketches onto hankies. I’ve always avoided explicit narrative, but as my writing skills improve, my urge to do little stories is increasing.

I also have two other things going right now. One is a stitch response to rose-hips and mountain ash berries squished onto a piece of old cotton; the other, blue hydrangeas pounded into paper.


How has your life path influenced your work?

My BA in dance is a major influence. Good choreography and theatre staging, and the history of theatre and costume design are all in the back of my mind as I fool around.

And my husband, Steve Mannell, keeps my work clear and real. He’s a constant source of inspiration, education and clarification. His brain is crisp and engaged. He helps me clarify my intention, work out my composition, clear out the detritus and know when my idea is done. 


String of spring by Laureen van Lierop (2018) h4" x 4' long


Where can your work be seen?

I try to post every completed work on my blog and on Instagram. I show whenever I can wiggle into an exhibition. I recently joined the Textile Artist Collective and rejoined SAQA to participate in group exhibits. One goal for this winter is to create a gallery page with prices attached. 


Who have been your major influences and how?

Georg Balanchine, a Russian ballet choreographer looms large. In 1967, he created Jewels, a suite of four highly technical dance solos, each a very pure interpretation of the music. His goal was beauty for beauty’s sake, without emotion or narrative. That has permitted me to create work that has no political, social or environmental commentary. The world needs resting spots and I attempt to provide a quiet place to do more than survive in.


Path Two by Laureen van Lierop (2018) w13" x h23" 


What fibre artists are you currently interested in, and why?

I really like Michelle Kingdom and Tilleke Schwarz. Both are masters of narrative stitching, but with very different themes, using different techniques. 

Closer to home, I’m also inspired by visual artist Alex Schofield, a good friend and neighbour. Her work, process and intellectual rationale are refreshing and energizing for me. 




Do you engage in other artistic or creative endeavors?

Writing is a big part of my life. I write poetry and children’s stories. I also produce a comic book, Hot Flash Woman, about the zany adventures of Hot Flash Woman and her side kick, Steamy, as they encounter oppression and struggle with menopausal hot flashes.  

My most memorable experience as an artist was winning the Joyce Barkhouse Award for unpublished children’s writing. Reading the first chapter of my book, Beach Meadow Friends, to a large audience at the awards ceremony was a fabulous experience!


Vessel One by Laureen van Lierop (2015) w4.5" x h11" 
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You can read more about SAQA artist Laureen van Lierop on her blog, Laureen van Lierop. Follow Laureen on Instagram.