27 December 2016

Colour Alchemy exhibition, Susan Lilley, Bridgewater NS

Colour Alchemy

Art quilts by Susan Lilley

January 3-31, 2017

Margaret Hennigar Library
Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre
135 North Park Street
Bridgewater NS

Mon/Fri/Sat 10am-5pm
Tues/Wed/Thurs 10am-9pm
Sun 12pm-4pm

If you're in the Bridgewater area, please drop in!

19 December 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #13

Hold Near and Dear by Laurie Swim, Lunenburg NS

Hold Near and Dear by Laurie Swim

Laurie Swim's SAQA 2017 trunk show piece is one in a series of ten small (10" x 7") works associated with her ongoing project: Hope and Survival, the Halifax Explosion Memorial. 

LS: These small pieces are offered as the reward for a $1000 contribution to our Indiegogo fund-raising campaign in support of Hope and Survival, the Halifax Explosion Memorial.

The image of the two children is created individually for each of the ten pieces. Each is finished differently from one another. The image is drawn with an Inktense pencil in indigo and then painted with a wet brush and heat set with an iron. The piece is free motion machine quilted and hand beaded.

A larger version of the same image is also part of the 8' x 12' (2.5m x 3.7m) centrepiece and will appear in the children's book I have written about the explosion. The smaller version shown here is heavily beaded on the top and the sides. Flotsam and debris and a carbon-saturated black rain falls around the children while they seek shelter in a doorway.

For information about contributing to Hope and Survival, visit the Indiegogo site here.

16 December 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #12

Game Trails by Anne Morrell Robinson, Margaree Valley NS

Game Trails by Anne Morrell Robinson

AMR: Game Trails was inspired by the tracks I follow on my daily walks or ski outings. Often our tracks cross or come together at a moose or deer yard or the den area of a coyote family. Animals and humans all seem to come together in common gathering places.

Read more about Anne Morrell Robinson on her website, Kingross Quilts

12 December 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #11

Beside the Pond by Cathy Drummond, Mahone Bay NS

Beside the Pond by Cathy Drummond

CD: I was struck by the profusion of plant life by the pond in autumn, with its mix of the browns, reds and yellows of fall with the brilliant greens of new growth. We have so much beauty at our doorsteps.

09 December 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #10

Chicken Scratch by Kristi Farrier, Almonte ON and Middle River NS

Chicken Scratch by Kristi Farrier

KF: The piece came about as I was exploring structural and geometric elements with organic feeling fabrics and back again to more organic elements with the hand stitching. The end result reminded me of marks made by chickens foraging. Hence the name “Chicken Scratch”.

04 December 2016

Penny Berens interview: Marking Time and Tides in Stitch

Daily Scratching by Penny Berens, w6" x length 200ft 
UK-born fibre artist Penny Berens produces highly textured and hand-stitched art quilts from a home nestled between Nova-Scotia’s Annapolis Basin and the Bay of Fundy. This dramatic landscape is reflected in her award-winning artwork. 

As a strong proponent of daily practice, Penny is known for her stitched journal, Daily Scratchings, that documents the ebb and flow of her life over the past four years. 

Penny has contributed to Atlantic-Canada’s art quilt scene as a teacher and an organizer, with friend Diane Clapp, of workshops with prominent fibre artists such as Dorothy Caldwell and Sandra Brownlee. She’s a member of her local Artist’s Way Collective and a long time member of Connections Fibre Artists, a long-standing Ontario-based fibre arts group.

Penny’s work has been honoured by CQA/ACC with both the Joseph H. McMurdie Award of Excellence for workmanship in Appliqué and the Canadian Living Magazine Award of Excellence - Innovative Category.  Her work has been shown across Canada, the United States, Scotland and France.

Woodpeckers Live Here by Penny Berens, w15" x h20

How would you describe your work?

I find it very hard to describe my work, it's such an integral part of my daily life that I take it for granted! My work is generally subtle (no bright primary colours here!) but I am always happy when people need to take a step closer to see what is really going on. When it comes to stitching I am definitely not a minimalist.  It is rare to find a square inch of my work that is not covered in hand stitching. 

In this phase of my life, I’ve got two bodies of work going. One is based on my reaction to the natural world around me. The pieces are simple designs made with soft neutral coloured cloth, dyed naturally, rusted or discharged, and covered in hand stitching inspired by the marks and shapes I find in nature.

Perhaps as a result of becoming a grandmother, my other body of work marks the passage of time. For the past four years I’ve recorded the rhythm of my life in a long embroidered scroll I call Daily Scratchings. You can follow its development on my blog, Tanglewood Threads. The finished scroll was featured on Judy Martin’s blog.

The Edge of the Woods by Penny Berens, w22" x h20"

How did you come to be an artist who works with textiles?

My mother and grandmothers were my very first teachers. One grandmother was a brilliant seamstress who darned and embroidered household linens that are still amongst my most treasured possessions. My maternal grandmother was more whimsical.  She made dresses for my many dolls, often embellished with shadow embroidery. By age seven I had inherited my mother’s love of crewel embroidery. My challenge now is to not make perfect stitches! Instead, I work at making my stitches more spontaneous and expressive and that's not as easy as it sounds!

Despite growing up with embroidery and stitch, I fell into quilting quite by accident. I signed up for evening classes in both rug hooking and quilting, in search of a creative outlet when my boys became teenagers. The rug hooking class was cancelled, so I became a quilter. Before long, my quilts became wall hangings, covered with ever more machine or hand embroidery. I earned a City and Guilds Diploma in Embroidery and Design, from Dundee College in Scotland, by night, while raising a family and working full time by day.

Now that I’ve retired from the working world, I make art every day. Seven days a week. As I grow older the days fly by with ever increasing speed, so I have to spend many hours stitching to get all my ideas onto cloth.

Mudflats by Penny Berens, w30" x h24 

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 surroundings inspire me: The untamed Acadian woods, the rocky shores of the Bay of Fundy, the sandy beaches of the Atlantic shoreline, the dykes and marshlands of the Annapolis Basin, the extreme tides and the more gentle changes as the seasons cycle every year. I record growth patterns that awaken in spring and die down in fall. Shapes and markings catch my eye and every day I see something different.

As I grow older I’m also drawn to creating larger pieces over long periods of time; recording daily experiences, recording the past, expressing the passage of time. 

fill sketchbooks with marks and shapes, recording observations and reactions to nature’s changes, not usually with a specific piece in mind, just recording (for memory gets worse the older I get) and playing with repetition, spacing, size. 

When a piece pops into my head, I search out the right fabric and dive in with needle and thread. I work intuitively, perhaps with a thumbnail sketch just to get me started. 

Works in progress are frequently pinned to a design wall for ‘rest periods’, allowing me to study them in quiet contemplation but also in quick glimpses as I go about other activities. Both the thoughtful observation and my reaction to a quick glance are part of my design process.

Winter's Night by Penny Berens, w34" x h54

You are very active in exhibiting your work. What would you tell other artists living in small rural communities about how to get their work out there?

Sharing one's work is part of being an artist, so I’ve always jumped at the opportunity. Every time I have a show I learn something new and, hopefully, each show improves on the last.

With my very first quilt, I nervously filled out an entry form for CQA, thinking that at minimum I would receive a helpful critique. I've since been invited to join groups such as Connections and The Artist's Way Group, whose goals are to hold regular shows.

I’ve also joined groups created for artists outside the quilting world. A local community art centre is a good place to apply for a show and there are many of these in the Maritimes. Networking is of course very important. If people know you exist, they might suggest you for their gallery!  

To hang a good show you need a cohesive body of work, a huge time commitment for quilt artists. Proposals may be daunting, but the worst that can happen is a rejection.....and I've had many!

Resting Between Night and Day by Penny Berens, w50" x h43" 

Tell us about your workspace, what features do you most like and dislike about it?

I love love love my studio. It's an addition to the north side of our home, with a walkout onto a large deck where I colour and discharge fabrics in the warmer months. Windows on three sides provide excellent light and a view of a pond, streams, our garden and the Acadian woodland that surrounds it.  

All those lovely windows do reduce the wall space, though, limiting the design wall and storage capacity. I’ve had to expand into other rooms for those purposes. Somehow we adapt! 

What are you currently working on and why?

I’ve spent the last few summers foraging in the garden, woods and lakes, gathering plant stuff for dyeing. I’m now creating a body of work using these fabrics, stitching repetitive patterns and shapes found in my surroundings.

As a follow-up to my four-year Daily Scratchings project, this year I’m recording the passing of time through small weekly pieces I call Crumbs, all of which include a cruciform shape. I plan to assemble them into one large hanging at the end of the year.

Weekly Crumbs by Penny Berens, w4" x h6" 

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

I love Dorothy Caldwell’s sense of the land, the vastness of her pieces and her mark making. 

Judy Martin is a poet of stitch. When I first saw her work I could feel her huge quilts reaching out and embracing me from the walls of the Homer Watson Gallery in Kitchener ON. We have since become good friends.

Sheila Hicks’ amazing work with fibre, dating back to 1957, still takes my breath away.  I also admire the work of Judith Scott, who wrapped yarn, string and cloth around found objects, transforming them into beautiful abstract sculptures. Michael Olszewski is an artist I’ve recently discovered, whose very personal work recreates his emotions as he strives to make sense of his life journey. 

There are so many more I could list!

Currently scheduled showings of my work:
My Corner of the World Canada (juried) 
May 21 - October 20, 2016: Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford ON
November 1, 2016 - January 29, 2017: Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay, ON
(More showings TBA.)

Recording Nature
Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery, Bear River, NS
November 15 - December 31, 2016

Artist Way Group show (Title TBA)
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, NS
August 18 – October 21, 2017

Cloth of Time (Work by Judy Martin and Penny Berens)
Mary E. Black Gallery, Halifax, NS
Date not yet confirmed, 2018 

To learn more about Penny Berens and her artwork, please visit her website, Tanglewood Threads.

01 December 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #9

Did you know that it's not too late to enter SAQA's 2017 Trunk Show? SAQA has extended the entry deadline to December 18th, so if you're wishing you had a little more time...

Helene Blanchet's piece is the 9th entry from Atlantic Canada.

The Garden Patch by Helene Blanchet of Margaree Valley, NS

The Garden Patch by Helene Blanchet

HB: I am a folk artist from Nova Scotia. This is a picture of the little kitchen garden we carved out of the forest in which we live, complete with the bunny who loves to share in the spoils.

Read more about Helene Blanchet and her artwork in a recent SAQA Atlantic artist interview.

30 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #8

Winter Sky by Regina Marzlin, Antigonish NS

Winter Sky by Regina Marzlin

RM: A blue and white morning sky at the beginning of winter. It feels like snow will be falling today. The dark trees look stark against the winter sky.

29 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #7

Rings and Things by Lois Wilby Hooper of Moores Mills, NB 

Rings and Things by Lois Wilby Hooper

LWB: With a piece of indigo dyed shibori, from a SAQA workshop, staring at me reproachfully from the shelf, I decided to have a play day. Anything goes, whatever happens, happens. So, collecting various scraps, odds and ends, and general leftovers, I set to work. I wanted to continue the circle theme across the piece. Some bits of net fused with metallic paint scraps and bits of Angelina fibres were free motioned in place. Then I added beading, crocheted rings and hand embroidery with hand dyed thread.

Stepping back to see the "avant garde" result, I had a good laugh at myself.  All my traditional needle arts background was readily apparent. You can take the artist away from the tradition, but you can't take the traditional skills out of the artist!

28 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #6

Have a peek at another piece of artwork, by Chris Nielsen, that will travel the world with the 2017 SAQA Trunk Show. If you're thinking of entering, your piece must be submitted online by Wednesday November 30th and the actual shipment must be received by January 14th.

Infection by Christine Nielsen

Infection by Christine Nielsen of Head of St Margaret's Bay, NS

CN: This piece was created during the 2016 election cycle in the United States. I was thinking about the ways in which disaffection develops. It starts in isolated pockets which then burst and spread the seeds of hate. Soon everything is contaminated.

Read more about Chris's artwork on her blog, A Galloping Cat.

26 November 2016

In memoriam

We lost our good friend and SAQA Atlantic member Susan Tilsley Manley one week ago.

Anne Morrell Robinson created a small quilt as a tribute to Susan. 

Release by Anne Morrell Robinson 

Release by Anne Morrell Robinson of Margaree Valley, NS

AMR: "Release" is a tribute to Susan Tilsley Manley and depicts some of her favourite things; crows, bubbles, flowers, and being able to celebrate who we are.

Anne's quilt will be part of SAQA Atlantic's upcoming regional trunk show. Read more about Anne Morrell Robinson on her website, Kingross Quilts

Read more about Susan Tilsley Manley, Artist and Maker of Things, here.

A tribute to Susan and her artwork will be published on our blog in the coming weeks.

22 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #5

November 30th is the deadline for registering a 7"x10" piece for SAQA's 2017 Trunk Show. Today we feature Sandra Betts' submission.

Devin's Discovery by Sandra Betts

Devin's Discovery by Sandra Betts of Saint John, NB

One of my grandsons, Devin, loves to hike the backwoods off trail. He discovers some of the most beautiful nature scenes, photographs them and sends the pictures to me to enjoy. It is a great pleasure for me to try to reproduce them in my favourite medium - fabric.

20 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #4

ReBecca Paterson is the fourth SAQA Atlantic member to share her 2017 Trunk Show contribution with our readers. Have a look at her piece:

Heading East by ReBecca Paterson

Heading East by ReBecca Paterson of Sussex, NB

I am reminded of heading home to the Maritimes, flying over the Rockies, the foothills and just coming in to the cookie cutter areas of the prairies. This whole cloth quilt is just a snippet from a larger piece of fabric that was a deconstructive screen printing on cotton experiment. Cotton, polyester, procion dyes, ink.

16 November 2016

Hope & Survival: Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt

SAQA Atlantic member Laurie Swim is seeking your support in funding her community art project for the 2017 centenary of the Halifax Explosion.

Award-winning Nova Scotia artist Laurie Swim has spent the last four years working on a monumental memorial quilt with 400 volunteers. Two filmmakers have been recording her creative journey for a documentary. Now Laurie needs help finishing the art project in time...

The money raised in this crowd funding campaign will be used primarily to support Laurie to complete her work on the memorial quilt. It will also be used to complete a longer documentary film and to publish an accompanying children's book.

The completed work of art will be exhibited at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for the anniversary of the explosion in December 2017.

Please consider helping Laurie by contributing funding for the final push. In return, Laurie is offering some exciting perks to thank donors for their support.

Read more on the Indiegogo crowd funding website.

11 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #3

Have a look at our third featured 2017 Trunk Show contribution, Kathy Tidswell's The Tudor Rose.

The Tudor Rose by Kathy Tidswell

The Tudor Rose by Kathy Tidswell, of Burtt's Corner, NB

My painted background spoke to me of roses. It inspired me to create the intertwining white and red roses signifying the end of the Wars of the Roses. The houses were joined, like these roses, when Henry Tudor, King Henry VII, a Lancastrian, took Elizabeth of York to be his bride.

Read more about her work on Kathy Tidswell's website.

08 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show preview #2

Our second featured 2017 Trunk Show contribution is, Is it Deco?, by LaVerne McCallum Deakin.

Is it Deco? by LaVerne McCallum Deakin

“Is It Deco?” by LaVerne McCallum Deakin from Fredericton, NB

Although I usually start with sketches and the occasional full-size diagram, most of my pieces evolve as I work, often bearing little resemblance to the original sketch. Thinking positively, should I not be happy with the end result, it will serve as a learning experience. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed what I consider an “art deco” influence appearing in my work. Who knows what will be next?

Metals, especially copper, are favourite materials, but I also enjoy working with a variety of mixed media. The richness of silk as a background fibre seems to enhance the materials placed on it. The variegated metallic thread was the best match for this piece of silk which changes colour based on the angle of light.

Experiments with art quilting came after many years as a traditional quilter and, after retirement, I realized this is where my heart is!

Read our 2015 profile of LaVerne McCallum Deakin here.

06 November 2016

SAQA 2017 Trunk Show Contributions

SAQA’s travelling Trunk Shows showcase members' talent while promoting art quilts around the globe.  

The Trunk Shows are collections of small quilted artworks, each 10 x 7 inches. The collections travel to venues in many countries over up to a three-year period. At the end of the tour, the quilt is either returned to the artist or sold through the SAQA store. The submission deadline for the 2017 Trunk Show is November 30th.

Several SAQA Atlantic Canada members have been producing pieces for the Trunk Show. We will be featuring their work over the coming days. 

Early Frost by Holly McLean

Early Frost by Holly McLean of Bathurst, New Brunswick

Most of my artwork stems from my wanderings along the beaches and trails in my area. There are always a myriad of things to inspire me in any season; no matter how many times I walk the same path, there is always something new to attract the eye. I’m drawn to the tiniest of interesting flora and fauna, to large vistas, to the lines and shadows produced by bare trees and their branches, to bird’s nests which become apparent in fall and winter. It is all endlessly fascinating and inspiring.

Visit Holly McLean's blog to learn more about her work. 

If you haven't yet made a quilt for the 2017 Trunk Show, there may still be time. Stay tuned for more Trunk Show submissions in the coming days.  

01 November 2016

Two textile art exhibitions in Cape Breton!

SAQA Atlantic member Anne Morell Robinson invites you to two exhibitions currently on view in Sydney, Cape Breton. 

On Oyster Pond by Helene Blanchet

Celtic Quilt Guild Show

The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design is pleased to present an exhibition by the Celtic Quilt Guild. In addition to traditional and original bed quilts, the show will feature a collection of innovative art quilts including work by SAQA Atlantic members Ruth Austin, Helene Blanchet, Kristi Farrier and Anne Morrell Robinson. 

The opening reception will be held Wednesday, November 2 at 1:00 p.m. in the Centre’s Loft exhibition space.

What: Quilt show
Who: Celtic Quilt Guild
Where: Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, 322 Charlotte St, Sydney NS
When: Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until November 30th.

Diane Borsato and Anne Morrell Robinson

 Shaping the Shore

Cape Breton University Art Gallery celebrates the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage with a show of work by women artists. The show, Shaping the Shore, features women artists with a connection to Cape Breton. It includes a quilt made collaboratively by Toronto artist Diane Borsato and Anne Morrell Robinson.

What: Shaping the Shore art exhibition
Who: Cape Breton University Art Gallery
Where: CBU, 1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney NS 
When: Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until December 16th. 

25 October 2016

SAQA trunk show at Fibrefest 2016

Mountain/Fields II by Jill Jensen

The SAQA 25th Anniversary Trunk Show, a collection of 51 small art quilts on tour around the region, was recently on display at the 2016 Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst NS.

Joann Dnistransky reports on the event:

"The trunk show was well received, with approximately 170 visitors, and people were amazed! The exhibit was at the Four Fathers Library, which was instagramming the info out to the public and getting a lot of traffic in. Visitors from Germany, France, California, BC, Alberta, Ontario and all over the Atlantic are now more familiar with SAQA and what we're all about." 

View all the quilts in the collection online.

18 October 2016

We are All Africans takes first place at MBQG

We are all Africans by Linda Mackie Finley,  w49" x h63"

Our congratulations go to SAQA Atlantic member Linda Mackie Finley.  Her art quilt, We are all Africans, placed first overall for the Viewer's Choice Award and the CQA Ribbon at the 2016 Mahone Bay Quilt Guild Show & Sale. Linda's quilt was machine and hand appliqued, machine pieced, embellished with both stitch and paint, and hand quilted.

We asked Linda to tell us about her award-winning quilt.

Linda, you've made several, magnificently detailed quilts on a variety of topics. Would you tell us about your inspiration for We are all Africans?

My "inspiration" was the crisis in Africa brought on by the AIDS epidemic, in which an entire generation of teachers, caregivers, artists, etc. was wiped out, leaving thousands of children bereft and without the basic requirements to build a future.

Because I have a love for African art, I was able to draw upon it for the figures in this quilt. The two child-laden women in the centre are based on ancestral Nigerian maternity figures that are called upon to preserve the health and welfare of the community. The grey 'monolithic' figures are also ancestral representations, probably funerary in nature, as are others in the piece. 

We are all Africans (detail) by Linda Mackie Finley 

The caryatid bearing the large bowl, in the centre of the quilt, draws on a tradition in Benin. Such carved figures were placed outside of villages to ward off evil. The bowl in my piece is thus filled with Aids viruses, disarmingly beautiful.
We are all Africans (detail) by Linda Mackie Finley 

The pairs of animals are representations of the Ark, as the San people in South Africa, systematically eliminated by European colonization, have recently been proven to be the forbearers of the entire human race. Thus the title of the piece.

And finally, the beadwork along the bottom is my effort to represent a Luba divination board, a highly sophisticated document from Zaire.

How did you turn your inspiration into this marvellous quilt?

The process for this work was a long one. It sat on my design wall, in various incarnations, for over a year. Just as I was about to abandon it, I saw Val Hearder’s collection, "African Threads", work by contemporary women artists from South Africa. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and I loved the way they used their simple yet sophisticated embroideries to convey the story. They were totally my inspiration and gave me permission to abandon my conventional way of storytelling. I threw my heart into the work instead of my head. I think it worked.

See more of Linda Mackie Finley’s work on her website, Kite-Borne Threads.

16 October 2016

Art Hits the Wall 2017 Call For Entry

Atlantic Canada’s Art Hits the Wall Committee invites rug hookers and quilters to enter Under the Influence, a juried exhibition of hooked rugs and art quilts, open to all year-round residents of Atlantic Canada.

Under the Influence

Who or what inspires your work? A great master? A teacher? Your beloved granny? Perhaps it’s the medium itself: the colours, the textures, the rhythms of your craft. We want to know what inspires you. Create an image or a collage that reflects the people, place or thing that has inspired or continues to inspire you. This is a personal introspective journey that we invite you to have fun with and produce a wonderful piece of art for this event.


Completed application forms, with photos, will be accepted between March 1 and March 31, 2017. Applications postmarked after March 31 will not be accepted.


Width: 16-24 inches (no less, no more) 
Height: 16-30 inches (no less, no more)
All pieces must be 2 dimensional. That is, any embellishments must not exceed 1” from the surface.

Each artist may submit up to two pieces.


Official Launch: Rug Hooking Museum of North America (Mid May to Mid October 2017).  Additional locations and dates will be announced. If you are aware of any venues interested in having this show, please contact Art Hits the Wall.

Application forms will be available through organizations that support the creation of art through rug hooking and quilting. For additional information or to request an application form, please contact Art Hits the Wall by email or visit Art Hits the Wall on Facebook.

14 October 2016

Two fibre art exhibits in Fredericton!

SAQA Atlantic member Kathy Tidswell invites you to two exhibitions of fibre art currently on view in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Kathy has several items in each of these shows.

Autumn Splendour

Transitions 1 by Kathy Tidswell, 2016, w8" x h11"

What: Autumn Splendour
Who: The Fibre Arts Network (FAN)
Where: Fredericton Public Library, 12 Carleton St, Fredericton NB
When: Until the end of October, 2016

Fibre Arts Network (FAN) is a Fredericton-based network of fibre design artists who produce fine craft items for the fine craft market. This exhibit includes weaving, basketry, thread painting, felting, knitting, quilting, sewing, sculptural pieces and more! It will be on display until the end of October.

Fibre Expressions 2016

What: Fibre Expressions 2016
Who: The Fredericton Guild of Fibre Artists
Where: Government House, 51 Woodstock Rd, Fredericton NB
When: October 7 - November 29, 2016

The Fredericton Guild of Fibre Artists is a somewhat eclectic group that meets once a week to share a love of all fibre arts. Interests range from all types of needlework to weaving, rug hooking, felting, bobbin lacemaking and more. The Guild has been in existence since 1979 and held their first exhibition in 1980.

13 October 2016

Call for artwork of a spiritual nature

A detail of Creation by Paul Krampitz; part of the Common Threads Indigo Quilts at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. Photo: Martin Knowles

Christ Church Cathedral, in Vancouver B.C, is mounting a juried exhibition of textile art of a spiritual nature, including perspectives from First Nations artists and a range of faith traditions. The Canada-wide call for entry is now open.

(in)finite: exploring the finite limitations of humanity
and the ineffable, infinite nature of the Divine.
A Canadian Textile Exhibition
May 25 to June 4, 2017
Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 17, 2017

For details, see (in)finite: a Canadian Textile Exhibition.

30 September 2016

Kate Madeloso interview: Fibre art that’s eclectic, universal, exploratory

Rooted by K. Madeloso, w20" x h40".
Calgary-born artist Kate Madeloso arrived in Nova Scotia in 2007, after living five years in Europe. Kate is an insatiable artisan and self-professed technique junkie. Her art quilts demonstrate strength in design, love of colour and texture, and fine needlework skills.

In addition to art quilts, Kate has worked (and sometimes taught or exhibited) in numerous media, including stained glass, mosaics, ceramics, stone carving, macramé and rug hooking.

Kate has had one solo show and participated in numerous group shows across Canada, in Japan and in Italy. She contributes to the Nova Scotia fibre arts community through various volunteer activities. Most notably, Kate co-coordinated Art Hits the Wall for a four-year period and co-founded the NS Fibre Arts Bee (FAB), in which she continues to play a leadership role. 

We are delighted to introduce Kate as our first featured artist of the new season.

Kate, please describe your work for our readers.

The words that come to mind are eclectic, universal, exploratory.
I am inspired by traditional craftwork in any medium. I like to reinterpret traditional motifs with contemporary colours and styles, creating unique and original work. 

Most of my work has been representational but with a spontaneous approach to the design aspect, which is consistent with my graphic design background. My current focus is on wall art for home décor. I play with texture and colour and layering, adding unexpected glimpses of detail for an element of surprise. 

Play it Again Sam by K. Madeloso, w20" x h20".

More recently, I have been striving to make my work more socially relevant. Two themes, my Slavic heritage and climate change, have been appearing in my latest works.

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

My mother was an extraordinary seamstress and craftsperson. She taught me to sew, knit, crochet and embroider as a young child, so I’ve been creating with textiles all my life. My formal education led to a 20-year career in graphic design. Throughout that time, I continued doing handwork as a hobby and as an escape from a hectic career.

I discovered the exciting world of textile art in 2003, while living in the UK and earning a Masters Certificate in Surface Design. The experience introduced me to the flourishing European textile art scene, confirming my long love affair with all things textile. 

Life then took me to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where I continued for three years to experiment and ask ‘what if?’ I took classes in bookmaking, beaded jewellery and the ancient Japanese art of temari (thread balls). I spent my Sundays learning to carve stone with a Cypriot family. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to twice visit the markets of Damascus (Syria). The abundant and high quality materials, traditional textiles and handcrafts I discovered there have been an endless source of inspiration. 

Then, shortly after the move to Nova Scotia, a call for art quilts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables caught my eye. I submitted two pieces. “The Joy of Anne” placed 2nd in its category and subsequently travelled to Japan for two exhibitions. My other entry “A Lovely Place to Live, in an Apple Blossom” placed 3rd in a separate category. I was delighted to receive a substantial award cheque in the mail, an experience that launched my career as an art quilter.

Since that time, I’ve entered many exhibitions and have won several awards for my art quilts. 

Taliesin Mosaic by K. Madeloso, w30" x h36"
Honourable mention, SAQA Atlantic show, Structures, 2015.

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 inspiration comes from whatever gives me joy. Sometimes it’s a message or feeling I want to convey, or it may simply be the fabrics, colours, textures, or embellishments I have at hand. Perhaps a stick found on a beach, an Islamic mosaic, a bouquet of flowers, a piece of Russian embroidery, tribal drumming, or sparkling water running down a creek. So many ideas, interests, techniques and styles, I sometimes find it difficult to focus. I particularly enjoy responding to challenges and calls for entry because the criteria help me focus on a specific project and deadline, much as I did as a graphic designer.

I have an obsessive desire to keep learning and growing and challenging myself with new techniques. I like to layer with organza, digital photos, various fabrics like silk, cotton, wool and repurposed textiles. Lots of applique and embroidery, initially done by machine, but lately I’ve embraced the slow cloth movement and have been enjoying working entirely by hand, on appliqué, patchwork and embroidery. 

While I use a variety of materials and techniques in each project, my approach is consistent. I start with research and reading followed by rough thumbnail sketches in pencil. Then I make a paper pattern drawn to size. I tack that onto my design wall and begin auditioning fabrics. Once the fabrics are chosen the construction comes together quickly. I always finish my pieces with hand embroidery, either a little or a lot, to provide balance and fine detail that draws viewers in.

By Hand with Love (detail) by K. Madeloso, w16" x h31".

What are you currently working on and why?

I always have several projects on the go. Having lived in the Yukon for four years, I have a strong respect for wildlife and for northern Canada. My concerns about melting polar ice have sparked a series of pieces taking a light-sided look at the plight of polar bears. This series combines traditional patchwork with non-traditional embroidery and embellishment.
A Vanishing Culture by K. Madeloso, w24” x h72”.

I’ve also started working on a series relating to my ancestral heritage as a second generation Canadian. My grandparents immigrated from Russia and the Ukraine in the late 1890s. I’m continuously inspired by their vibrant colourful traditions and stories of their pioneer struggles.

In response to a FAB member challenge, I’ve been working on a series of small art quilts based on traditional Russian embroidery designs. This series of appliqué compositions incorporates hand and machine embroidery. I’m currently working with a gallery to organize an exhibition of the challenge pieces early in 2017.

What are your goals for the coming year?

I plan to build on both my climate change and my heritage series, with new and larger pieces, perhaps stretched on canvas for framing. I would also like these works to make more explicit statements, for example, by depicting my ancestors burning firearms in Russia, an issue that’s still relevant today.

On the business side, I’d like to redesign my website and re-energize my blog but I’d rather be stitching than sitting in front of a computer.

As for ongoing learning, I have just been matched with a SAQA mentor and I will also continue working on the UK-based Stitchbusiness Master Class.

Where can readers see your work this year? 

I have two pieces in the combined SAQA travelling exhibits:

My Corner of the World (international) and My Corner of the World Canada (juried) 

Currently scheduled:
May 21 - October 20, 2016: Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford ON
November 1, 2016 - January 29, 2017: Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay, ON

More showings to be announced.

To learn more about Kate and her artwork, please visit her website.

26 September 2016

SAQA Atlantic Fall Retreat

October 28 - 30, 2016
Debert, NS

SAQA Atlantic members are getting together for a weekend of camaraderie, learning and inspiration! Join us at the Debert Hospitality Centre for the last weekend of October.


Friday October 28th

4:00 - 6:00 p.m.   
Arrival at Debert Hospitality Centre, room check in and orientation; welcome by Atlantic area SAQA rep Regina Marzlin.

Show and Tell

Saturday October 29th

Hands-on seminar – The Alchemy of the Crayon Box, or, 64 colours are not ALWAYS better than eight  
Led by Linda Mackie Finley

In this session, we will review the simple 'reality' of the colour wheel and how viewing colour in a more painterly fashion can demystify the process of colour mixing and application. Participants will learn to more-reliably predict results and will have an opportunity to generate a full range of colours using only a basic few. 

Presentation and discussion – The Business of Art
Guest Speaker, Stacey Cornelius

Stacey Cornelius is a practising artist with a BFA in Textiles and Art History from NSCAD University. Stacey has 30 years experience in many facets of the retail industry and regularly offers classes on pricing and marketing for visual artists in various media. Her presentation, tailored to the interests of textile artists, will cover brand building, professional pricing and ways to determine the correct market niche. 

Show and Tell

Sunday October 30th

Discussion 1 – Working with Galleries
Led by Regina Marzlin

Participants will explore options for identifying and approaching appropriate venues for exhibition and sale of their work. 

Discussion 2 – Where to from Here?
Aimed at establishing a path forward for our vibrant community of textile artists.

Departure after lunch on Sunday.


Please register for the retreat on or before Friday October 14, 2016For more information or to register, contact our SAQA Atlantic representative Regina Marzlin.    

This event is for SAQA members exclusively. Not a member? You can join SAQA here!

19 September 2016

The Beauty of Imperfection: Lessons from Japan

Maelstrom by Susan Lilley, 2016 w36" x h29"

One night only! If you're in the area, please join me, Susan Lilley, and friends Miyako Ballesteros, Phyllis Price and Susan Robertson for our pop-up art exhibition on Saturday, September 24th, from 6-11pm, 527 King Street, Bridgewater NS, just one of many installations and events at Afterglow, Bridgewater's one-night festival of the arts.

The Beauty of Imperfection:
Lessons from Japan

Four friends have joined forces in an exploration of Japanese culture through its application to contemporary textile art and flower arranging. The Beauty of Imperfection features the Japanese techniques of ikebana (flower arranging), sashiko (stitching) and shibori (dyeing). These diverse methods will expose viewers to two deeply held Japanese values: mottainai (disdain for waste) and wabi sabi (appreciation for old and imperfect items). In North American throw-away society, these lessons have important application for achieving sustainability in the 21st century.

Ikebana by Susan Robertson, 2015