13 April 2017

Linda Finley interview: Illustrator and storyteller

String Theory by Linda Finley (2008) 36"x42"
Textile/mixed media artist Linda Finley creates magnificently detailed art quilts from her home in Bear Cove, a small community looking onto the approaches to Halifax Harbour.

Linda’s eclectic body of artwork evolves in response to social and environmental concerns and her ever changing interests. Her work is focussed on textiles, with print, paint, and occasional sculptural elements sometimes interjecting. Whichever the medium, Linda’s work demonstrates her passion for line, colour, and above all, story. 

Her academic background—in biology, mathematics and theatre—is also sometimes evident. Over the years, Linda has made quilts that tell stories of such complex issues as HIV/AIDS in Africa and the desertification of the Aral Sea, without becoming sombre.

In this interview, Linda Finley talks about her journey into textile art and shares her process for creating award-winning artwork.


How would you describe your work?

I think of myself as an illustrator and storyteller. I occasionally create pieces just for fun, but more often my pieces explore important issues. In spite of the sometimes unpleasant stories they tell, I aim to make them visually appealing.

I generally use appliqué to illustrate the stories, most often fused and applied with a hand stitch called the Armenian edge stitch. This technique allows me to create more detailed images. The backgrounds are usually densely hand quilted, providing a feel and texture that I just can’t achieve with machine stitch.



We Are All African by Linda Finley (2010) 48”x 62”


What was your journey towards becoming an artist working with textiles?

I seem to have been born with a pencil in hand and an uncanny ability to use it. I drew and painted intuitively at a very young age. Even so, neither my parents nor the school system encouraged my desire to become an artist, so at age 17 I headed off to university to study theatre, later transferring to biology and mathematics, eventually acquiring a PhD in biology.

I took up quilting as a creative outlet while raising three young children in a small Toronto flat, to avoid polluting their environment with oil, paints and mediums. Textiles were just beginning to be recognized as a valid artistic medium and I very quickly saw their potential to contribute an immediacy and emotional impact not usually achieved with paint.


Hour Glass Figure by Linda Finley (2012) 30”x31”

When we moved back to Halifax and I had more work space, I tried
making pictorial quilts for my children. One of these was accepted into Quilt Canada. Buoyed by this success, I made an appliqué piece comparing the artwork of the Celts with that of the North west coast indigenous peoples, having noticed that the artwork of the two cultures is astonishingly similar. The finished piece, Ash and Cedar, was also accepted into Quilt Canada, travelled as part of that exhibition to Japan, and was later accepted into the AQS show in Paducah Kentucky.

And so I had found my medium!


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 initial inspiration can come from the news, travel, dreams; almost anywhere. It’s often just an inkling of an idea, and that’s when the work really starts. I do a lot of research, reading widely to improve my understanding of the subject matter and for visual cues. I make sketches, twisting the idea inside and out. And so the initial idea evolves, acquiring substance and a  strong visual reality. This research stage can be fairly quick or can take several months or even years. Much as I would like to, I can’t rush it. When I eventually get the "aha" moment, I feel an almost physical relief. I can then make a cartoon of the piece and begin to audition fabrics, which may be commercial, repurposed, or increasingly, cloth I’ve dyed or screen-printed myself.

I next create the applique images and let the piece sit for a time on the design wall, moving the images around on the background, or changing them up. Once satisfied, I stitch the piece together with dense hand quilting. Paint, print work, embellishments or text might be added at any stage in the process.


Carnaval des animaux (work in progress)

Carnaval des animaux (work in progress)



Carnaval des animaux (based on the work of Camille Saint Saens)
 by Linda Finley (2014) 30”x30
"

What are you currently working on and why?

Ships of the Desert by Linda Finley 30”x48" 
I’m about to tackle an unfinished piece about the desecration of the once abundant herds of white rhino in Africa. This very challenging piece has been sitting on my wall for nearly two years. I have a strong commitment to finishing it because I care deeply about the subject matter and because I owe its resolution to a loved and absent friend. It will, I hope, become the second in a series called Vanished, the first of which was Ships of the Desert, a piece about the desertification of the Aral Sea.


What are your goals for the coming year?

I hope to create several pieces for upcoming shows and to prepare a solo show for 2018.


What (non fibre) artists, either historic or contemporary, have inspired you, and why?

I have always enjoyed art history. There are very few artists that don't offer me pleasure, inspiration and an understanding of the value of art in defining what it is to be human.

Canadian indigenous art is my very favourite. Kenojuak Ashevak and Daphne Odjig have an almost heart stopping effect on me.

I am a huge fan of Freidenrich Hundertwasser. My first encounter with his powerful work literally took my breath away.

Surrealist Remedios Varo, one of the original inner circle of Surrealism, has long been a favourite. Printmaker Karen Kunc continually astonishes me. I am also deeply touched by the powerful prints and drawings of Kathe Kollwitz. 



What fibre artists are you interested in, and why?

I especially admire the work of Betty Goodwin and Louise Bourgeois, who have unapologetically demonstrated the value and beauty of domestic textiles. I also adore the touching simplicity of Janet Bolton's little fibre masterpieces.

Dorothy Caldwell continues to astonish me with her mark making masterpieces, as do Junko Oki, Jude Hill, and the wonderful Peruvian tapestry maker, Maximo Laura.

Dollmaker Kate Church’s characters enchanted me at first sight. They make my heart sing. My list could go on and on.


The Habituation of Mr. Morris by Linda Finley (2012) 38" x 47"

Do you treat art like a job, going to the studio each day at a particular time?

I don’t arrive in my studio at 9:00 a.m. every day, but I do put in the
hours and turn up most days whether or not I feel motivated. I find that work inspires art. Sometimes just having the fabric, sketch book or crayons in my hands will push me in the right direction. The most difficult thing has been acknowledging that the time for thinking, reading and planning is not time wasted.



How do you show and sell your quilts? Where can your work be seen?


I enter group shows when the opportunity presents and have sold work as a result. I am learning, through SAQA, to be more of a promoter and business person. My web site is a work in progress. I am also learning (after much resistance) the value of social media.

I recently took up a challenge to post my work on Facebook for six consecutive days. It turned out to be a most positive experience! I was surprised by the pleasure I experienced at having an audience for my work and overwhelmed by the support I received.



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Watch for more of Linda Finley’s work on social media. A complete portfolio can be found on her blog, Kite Borne-Threads

07 April 2017

Monoprinting Workshop with Holly McLean in Port Elgin, NB on May 13th, 2017

SAQA Atlantic Canada member Holly McLean, from Bathurst NB, is a regular contributor to Quilting Arts Magazine. She describes her upcoming workshop: 


HM: Monoprinting, or making one-of-a-kind prints on fabric or paper, has been around for centuries. In this one-day workshop we will use a pre-made gelatin mold (recipe will be supplied) as our printing surface. We will roll the paint onto the mold, add textures, and then print onto white cotton. 


Many things can be used to make interesting textures: pressed leaves and flowers, bubble wrap, lace, empty spools, grids from berry containers, craft foam, etc.


Participants will select one monoprint to work with, adding batting, hand stitching and embellishment. This sample can later (at home) be incorporated into a small project such as a sewing kit, as featured in Quilting Arts Magazine, October/November 2016.

The class fee of $60 will include paints and foam to make stamps.

For further information or to reserve your space please e-mail me at hollymclean5(AT)gmail.com


Looking forward to seeing you in Port Elgin on May 13th!






05 April 2017

Call for entry for third SAQA Atlantic regional show: Transitions

SAQA Atlantic Canada is excited to announce our third regional juried show, curated by Heather Loney. The theme for the show, Transitions, can be interpreted in a wide range of styles and techniques, from abstract to pictorial, from monochromatic to colourful, perhaps showing a metamorphosis, a passage in time, alteration or evolution through surface design and stitching.

Deadline for entry:  December 31, 2017

Linda Finley's Ships of the Desert (w30” by h48") was awarded Best of Show
in SAQA Atlantic's last regional show, Structures.


Premiere Location: 

  • Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth NS, April 2018

Additional venues to date (more to come):

  •  Inverness Centre for the Arts, NS, October 2018
  •  Art Centre Saint John NB, January / February 2019 


Juror:
Elizabeth Whalley is a Canadian artist living and working in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New York. She has exhibited widely and created many projects in New York including work for the TD Bank’s Art for Trees, Flux Factory, and Galapagos Artspace. She was awarded a Canada Council travel grant, a McNair Scholars research grant, and a Pratt faculty grant. She received her MFA and an Advanced Certificate (PIMA) from Brooklyn College after studies at Concordia University, Montreal. She has taught at Adelphi University, Haverford College, Pratt Institute, Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, and Brooklyn College. She is currently Director of the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Inverness, NS.

Read all the details in the online entry form and guidelines.

Please note that this call for entry is for SAQA Atlantic members exclusively. Not a member? You can join SAQA here!