I’ve been a guest writer for a number of years for Deanne Fitzpatrick, rug hooking artist extraordinaire, writing about design, creativity, life and my own artistic shenanigan’s. Here’s a recent guest post.
You never know where you’re going to encounter something that blows your mind and knocks you off course. I went out this morning to pick up an order from Simon’s. It was being held in the customer service area located at the top of a rather grand staircase by the ladies clothing department. As I made the climb I was captivated by the cloud like configuration overhead. It was airy and light and looked like some kind of fantastical jungle growth or extreme crystal formation. Within the organic shapes there were elements that seemed to come right out of a science lab. Beaker and test tube glass shapes intertwined with electronic components, sensors and wires. It became even more interesting transitioning from a ground floor overview to a bird’s eye perspective as I progressed up the stairs to the second level. It was a composition of multitudes where there were a gazillion small parts that seemed to individually connect to create this expansive, irregular form. I certainly didn’t expect to cross paths with something so exquisitely bizarre and beautiful on a mundane chore.
Given the possibility that I might never leave because I was clearly very enthralled looking at the whole installation from that lofty vantage point, the customer service associate kindly gave me an extra copy of architect, Philip Beesley’s book, “Hylozoic Ground” to take with me.
I couldn’t resist taking my new book out for lunch so I could explore the vortex of questions exploding in my head. Hylozoic comes from the word hylozoism. It’s a doctrine held by early Greek philosophers that all matter has life. This doctrine underlies Beesley’s creations and interactive components are key in his explorations towards a kind of living architecture. In the Simon’s installation certain elements light up when you pass by. His other work is even more responsive including his huge Canadian Pavilion installation for the 2010 Venice Biennale.
Beezley’s work is complexly layered physically and philosophically. He challenges our experiences and relationships to natural and manmade environments. It’s hard to wrap my head around all the tangents in one take; it may not happen in ten takes. And although some of the reading seemed to swirl out of my immediate grasp it did leave me feeling giddy with curiosity and I’ll continue to explore his tangle of philosophy, technology, nature and science.
I’m okay to enjoy a piece of work at whatever level of understanding I meet it at. I know deeper understanding often happens in small snippets that take time to unfold because my own thoughts and reactions are part of the road to knowledge and meaning.
As the day winds down I can’t help but think of a few “to do’s” that slipped away as I explored Philip Beesley’s work and the rush of questions and delight it prompted. Then again when your mind is excited and jaggy and wants to chart a new course sometimes you just need to let it.
I found myself in the middle of the most beautiful intersection of art, design, culture and craft last October when I visited Fogo Island, Newfoundland. I was enchanted by native Zita Cobb’s art and design centric initiatives to stimulate economic growth and preserve local culture so when I visited the province to teach at the Fibre Arts Newfoundland Conference my husband and I put Fogo Island on our radar. To physically stand in the island’s raw natural energy punctuated with thoughtful pieces of design and craft moved me to the core. Contemporary architecture referenced local fishing stages and hand made traditional crafts warmed the interiors. It was like a touchstone for a journey into the heart and soul of this unique place which in turn took me deeper into my own inner landscape.
We checked out the Fogo Island Inn- fish and chips served every Friday! -and hiked to each of the four artist’s studios that dot the island.
I was struck by how design had brought the singularity of a place to a new understanding by intersecting and joining the past with the present. I was in the depths of these experiences and awash with so many profound feelings when the universe delivered my own special past and present path crossing. In the midst of this spectacular design overture I was delighted to be responding to an invitation to participate in Toronto’s Offsite Design festival as part of the Edmonton representation for their “Outside the Box” event. My professional background and education are in design, however, I charted a new course a number of years ago to follow a newfound passion for traditional textile techniques and fibre art. I use traditional crafts like rug hooking, knitting and felting in combination purely for artistic expression, as well as, to create contemporary functional pieces like hand hooked rugs or felted bowls. My current work lives in a boundary pushing intersection so it’s quite exciting to have it meet a dedicated design event.
Red bowl, Green Bowl – rug hooking, knitting, felting, 100% wool, linen.
In many ways I think we are all a compilation of intersections: our life experiences, passions, work: they’re always on board no matter how our paths shift and refocus. I think it’s where uniqueness and richness originates and the singularity of a person, a community or a place lies in these fertile crossings.
I wish I could accompany my bowls to the Outside the Box exhibit and attend The Toronto Offsite Design Festival in person. Just from the snippets I see online I know I would be dazzled with all the beauty, creativity and ingenuity but I also know when I looked more carefully I would find the very best designs full of hope, humanity and well being.
For more information on Toronto Offsite Design festival click here.
For more information on “Outside the Box” click here.
Shipped across the country in Bankers boxes, the Toronto Design Offsite Festival & WantedDesign unpack, install, and present nine distinct national and international showcases in the third edition of ‘Outside the Box.’ Working with local correspondents, the contents of each box includes original works from local designers, reflecting the particular resources and makers of each area, and featuring responses to the theme “multiple.”
I recently traveled to southern Alberta to attend my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. The ceremony was held on a ranch near the gorgeous,rolling hills of Cochrane which is just outside of Calgary. The ranch belongs to a friend of the groom’s family and thankfully he was there to direct us as we entered. We drove around the big red barn and trekked way up though the property until there was an opening for parking and then we trekked some more to the highest point where a simple arch overlooked a patchwork valley framed with the jagged silhouette of the distant Rocky Mountains. Hay bales were set up to hold planks of wood for seating and simple buckets of white flowers graced each end. And so we gathered in Mother Nature’s arms to behold a beautiful young couple start their new life together. It was a magical setting and ceremony to be sure. And there were horses!
I love how couples create such individual wedding ceremonies these days. Even though I didn’t know the bride and groom really well, the day was so infused with their passions and personalities I felt like I had a much greater sense of their characters and lives by the end. Clearly their sense of humour is in good order. When one of the horses slyly ate the groom’s bottonhole flowers he wore the remaining stems on his lapel for the rest of the night! So many touches, like hand made decorations, the setting and the heart felt words they spoke to each other and to their families and friends, spoke volumes about their values and interests. They organized the entertainment with a d.j and an open mike. A throbbing Ballroom Blitz could segue into an impromptu ballad from their uncles (my cousins) on guitars and drums. The musical talent in my family all pooled in this group of cousins and their interludes brought another intimate and personal element to the day. Is it me or is there something extraordinary about the way siblings can harmonize?
It’s an honour to be included in these moments that mark such important milestones. These are stop time occasions that also give us a chance to celebrate family and to feel those threads of connection that tether us to each other and our fleeting time and place in the world at large.
This wedding united a bride and groom, and two families. I sat behind the two sets of parents at the ceremony and I noticed they were all holding hands with each other as their children said their vows. It seemed to me a touching sign that this couple was already weaving beautiful new threads and connections. I wish them every happiness.
Thanks Andrea and Justin for letting me share a few thoughts and photos from your special day!
When I’m visiting elsewhere and I have some time I try and hit a few art spots or shows. During my latest visit to Calgary I was able to check out the Esker Foundation. The Esker Foundation in an interesting scenario where a privately funded art space was created to operate like a public gallery. It resides in the historic neighbourhood of Inglewood, which is always a great place to hang out. The exhibit space itself is a contemporary vision of inspired design. Unicorns and Dictators by Cynthia Girard was the exhibit I explored. Her large scale works create a fantastical world using various mediums and techniques. I was completely captivated. Her work revealed itself to me in increments and layers and I’m still thinking about it’s complexities and contradictions.
I also had a chance to visit The Glenbow Museum where Bee Kingdom has a show. Bee Kingdom is a Calgary based studio glass collective that combines the talents of four Alberta College of Art and Design grads. They are unique in that they also live together and create their glass sculptures in a self built glass studio in their residential garage. Their colours, shapes and stories sing to me. While I was familiar with their artwork, to see a broader exhibit that includes their influences and development gave me a new perspective on their process and work.
Creativity and artistic expression abound. It’s such a treat to take in the offerings of another community when you travel.
All the photographs were taken with permission.
I have a new guest post on Deanne Fitzpatrick’s blog!
Thanks for stopping in- I welcome your comments!
FLOURISH Diane Krys, 2013, rug hooking,knitting, needle felting
A few encouraging words can go a long way. The launch of this new blog is proof. I never thought of myself as a writer of any kind and the idea that I would voluntarily want to write seemed as unlikely as suddenly wanting to become a surgeon when I can barely get through a routine blood test. The first time I ever felt compelled to write was after a rug hooking workshop with an artist who’s work captured my imagination. The experience was enlightening and inspiring beyond my expectations. I found words welling up inside me to the point where I had to write to release the flood. I sent her an email and cringed the moment I did at what I fool I was to share such thoughts with someone I barely knew. Clearly, I had lost my mind.
To my great relief she was kind and generous in her reply. Over the next few years we sporadically exchanged a few thoughts and ideas. During one of these lovely, random exchanges, she took me by surprise and asked if I would like to be the first guest writer on her popular rug hooking blog. I don’t think I slept at all the night before my first post was to appear. It turned out to be a wonderful watershed moment and I was delighted to continue as a regular guest writer.
With a few guest posts under my belt I decided to take my first writing workshop. I found myself in the company of a talented Canadian author and instructor. I was a fish out of water and I believe she sensed my apprehensions. She offered to look at a piece of my writing on her lunch break and give me feedback privately. She liked the piece and asked if I would share it with the group the next day. I could feel my face flush and turn red when the time came to read it aloud. My breathing was irregular because I was fighting the staccato creeping into my voice. By the last line I was almost out of breath from trying so hard not to lose my way. Despite this awkwardness, I left the workshop feeling light and effervescent with possibility. A new door opened inside me thanks again to a few words of encouragement.
It’s such a gift when the right people with the right words intersect your life at the right moment. I’m happy to say I continue to write for Deanne Fitzpatrick’s blog on the 10th(ish) of each month and I’m an official Kim Echlin groupie having taken two writing classes with her with hopes to take more when the opportunity presents itself.
I’m a fibre artist, design junkie, and collector of strange beauty. I buy too many art books and I’m fascinated by the creative process. I like good eats, including a never ending pursuit for the best potato pancake and cinnamon bun. I’m a keener for stimulating and creative workshops. I have a constant craving to learn and experience new things. I welcome you to this new chapter in my creative writing journey where I can share all the things that shape the artist I am and will become. I thank you for being here with me as I make my first official post on my new blog and website. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts-I’ll be listening. I’m still figuring out my blogging schedule but I hope you stayed tuned so we can connect again.