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Edge of the Forest in Toronto

I had the unexpected opportunity to briefly drop into the “Edge of the Forest” exhibition in Toronto a couple of weeks ago during its short sojourn at Art Square. It was a delight to see all the work together in person. As I only had a brief time, I took a few shots of work that caught my attention, mostly as a way of remembering them when I could look them up on the website.

As an artist who’s work is included in the show, I suppose I am biased, but I think the show represents a good range of materials and processes, with most work reflecting the use of multiple surface design techniques. As an inveterate hand-stitcher, I was especially delighted by the amount of handwork.

The theme of “Edge…” really encouraged artists to explore their connection to physical and emotional geography, with the resulting work ranging all the way from the macro- to the micro- scale. As a former geologist, I was intrigued and responded to many works at the ends of this spectrum.

In her work Define! A not so fine line Leila Olfert uses image transfer on transparent fabrics and hand-stitch to elicit a conversation about geographic and man-made boundaries. The urban geography of Saskatoon is juxtaposed with the fragile strength of wheat seed literally sewn/sown into the work. This is echoed in Guard of Gold by Susan Fae Haglund: machine stitched matboard forms the basis for this whimsical, yet evocative work.

On the micro scale, Lorraine Ross explores beauty in the details of tree bark and lichen using discharge, cracked resists and a variety of stitches and threads. Her meditation of the wonders of nature is contrasted by Ingrid Lincoln’s Burnt Umber. Darkly dyed crackle resisted cloth seems to evoke something of destruction, yet I found the simplicity of the stitches into it to be yet still hopeful. Lilly Thorne’s Forest Shadows is a gentle study of branches and wind created with carefully controlled overlapping arashi dye patterns.

I had been quite taken with an image of Patt Wilson’s Harwood a few months ago. I was not disappointed by the real thing. The energy of a heavily machine-stitched green band, dances with its encompassing blue straight-line quilted background. There is certainly life at the edge of the forest.

I am sad that I have singled out so few pieces from this show. I was inspired by the range of work, but limited by time. BC and Alberta are especially well represented in this show, and I look forward to revisiting the work in 2016. We now have dates confirmed for three more venues:

  • January 11 – 30, 2016
    Fish Creek Community Library, Calgary, AB
  • March 23 – April 3, 2016
    Coast Collective Arts Centre, Victoria BC
  • July 9 – August 21, 2016
    FibreWorks Studio & Gallery, Pender Harbour, BC

Watch for updates on the blog and in the SDABC+Yukon newsletters.