I recently attended a Maiwa Symposium workshop on Granville Island, Vancouver. Tilleke Schwartz’s free form, graffiti style embroidery inspired me to pick up needle and thread and try my hand. In and out of class I found a feast for my eyes and imagination.
Funny how I can get up at the crack of dawn when I’m away! What a lucky break to find myself in a room with this view of False Creek and downtown Vancouver.
Since I was up so early, I would visit the Emily Carr University of Art + Design library en route to class. It was a treat for a magazine lover like me, to indulge in the most interesting,international art, design and textile magazines imaginable.
Maiwa has also compiled an extensive collection of textiles, books and artifacts, primarily from India. It acts a resource centre and workshop space. It was wonderful to be surrounded by this rich textile history as we took in Tilleke’s presentations and worked on our own creations.
Tilleke brought a work in progress to share. Her pieces are a mind map of her wit, whimsy and response to the world. You can be familiar with something through images but there’s nothing like a personal encounter. Awesome!
I would lunch across the street at the bountiful Granville Island Market. Every basket of fruit and berries was piled meticulously to a perfect peak; it made for a stunning “fruitscape.” I thought this attention to detail was like the repetition of a tiny plain stitch to create larger,dynamic rhythms and patterns. Clearly, I had stitching on the brain.
I never knew what would catch my attention walking back to the hotel after class. It might be a piece of art or a guy making giant bubbles with a couple of sticks and a string. I was as mesmerized as the kids in this photo. I couldn’t help thinking of Janet Echelman’s aerial sculptures as the bubble moved and morhped.
Friends picked me up for dinner one night and we went out for Italian food tapa style. I love sharing plates and sampling-you get to try so much more on the menu! Isn’t it lovely when food looks so artful and appetizing.
On an after school excursion I whipped over to Knit City,Vancouver’s big knitting event. CaterpillarGreen was a find. Their hand dyed self striping yarns are ingenious.
I had the last day to myself so I decided to visit the Museum of Anthropology. They have an extraordinary collection of First Nation totem poles,art and artifacts, as well as, other ethnographic collections. I’m always awed by the quiet dignity and magnificence of totem pole carvings but the simplicity of these Haida bentwood boxes is also beguiling.
Given I had just spent a few days stitching, I was drawn to the needle work in their collections. Somebody please stop me if I ever want to take up making bobbin lace!
This bright, little piece of Ukrainian embroidery touches on my own paternal Ukrainian heritage. There are so many stories, connections and history in textiles. I feel a tenderness for it’s hand stitching; the variances all show the maker’s hand and soul.
I’m home now with a suitcase full of laundry and a mind full of new ideas. It’s a good trade. It’s refreshing to take in the thoughts and ideas of another artist, try out a few new techniques and breath in the culture of another city. Vancouver was trip to savour during the cold months ahead.