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Author: Thomas Roach

Textile artist, stitcher and SDABC+Yukon webmaster.

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.

interactive demos at ‘mended’

Visitors to 'mended' trying thier hand at mending with Catherine Nicholls
Visitors to ‘mended’ trying their hand at mending with Catherine Nicholls

Many textile artists are grateful for opportunities to share the work that we do with a wider audience, and to provide space for us to talk about our work, show insights into process and encourage people to try their hand.

mended exhibition coordinator Catherine Nicholls and Il Museo curator Angela Clarke have programmed three demo days at the gallery. The first of these was Saturday, March 21, 2015. Exhibition artists Sheila Wex, Michelle Sirois-Silver and Thomas Roach joined Catherine and Angela to demonstrate mending along side their own work.

We saw over 60 people of all ages through the gallery that day, all of whom enjoyed an opportunity to interact directly with artists. Many sat down at the table with us and were able to create a small mending project of their own using fabric scraps, threads and canvas from kits that Catherine and Anni Hunt had put together. Included in the package was printed instruction for simple stitches.

There are two more demonstration days scheduled at Il Museo:
Saturday, April 11 and Saturday, May 9 from 11-2.
Planning is underway for more demo days at other two galleries.

Vancouver Opening of ‘mended’

It was a wonderful night of celebration on Tuesday, March 17 when over 200 people crowded into the gallery at Il Museo at the Italian Cultural Centre. SDA BC+Yukon member artists from Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and all over metro Vancouver gathered to enjoy fabulous Italian food, wine and applaud the opening of our travelling exhibition ‘mended’

Exhibition coordinator Catherine Nicholls welcomed everyone and introduced Il Museo curator Angela Clarke, who spoke about the artistic strength of the work in the exhibition. SDA BC+Yukon Rep Sheila Wex thanked the exhibition and communications teams for their work in getting the exhibition together and promoted.

Michelle Sirois-Silver
SDA Award of Excellence recipient Michelle Sirois-Silver with her works Extraction 8, Extraction 9 and Extraction 10

Through the efforts of Jennifer Love, we sought permission to grant an SDA Award of Excellence. The recipient of the award for this exhibition is Michelle Sirois-Silver. She has four works in the exhibition from her Extraction series all handhooked with recycled hosiery waste on linen. A triptych of three (Extraction 8, Extraction 9 and Extraction 10) are featured prominently near the entry to the exhibition.

The exhibition continues at Il Museo at the Italian Cultural Centre until May 15.

Gallery Hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

“mended” in Vancouver

Mended Horizontal





A travelling exhibition of contemporary textile art.

Surface Design Association of British Columbia and Yukon

In this exhibition twenty-five BC textile artists created new two and three-dimensional works in response to the word mended.

A broken heart, relationships and even a pair of old socks can require mending at some point. Is it possible to make something more useful or functional by mending? And what about mending your ways? The works in this exhibition reflect diverse experiences and interpretations of mending through creative expressions about family, love, loss, and renewal.

The exhibition includes works by Judy Alexander, Cher Cartwright, Constance Chapman, Linda Coe, Susan Duffield, Eleanor Hannan, Anni Hunt, Linda Ingham, Jennifer Love, Judi MacLeod, Barbara McCaffrey, Catherine Nicholls, Freda Pagani, Susan Purney-Mark, Morija Reeb, Brigitte Rice, Thomas Roach, Kristin Rohr, Dawn Michelle Russell, Shamina Senaratne, Michelle Sirois-Silver, Jill Sullivan, Lilly Thorne, Sheila Wex, Patt Wilson.


Il Museo Gallery, Italian Cultural Centre, Vancouver, BC

March 17 – May 15, 2015

3075 Slocan Street, Vancouver, BC


Opening: Tuesday, March 17 at 7pm

Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am to 5:00pm.