Lost Thread

Lost Thread is a group exhibition bringing together several regional, provincial and National artists who are creating on the forefront of contemporary textiles in Canada and are practicing in respective spaces that push the boundaries between craft/art, and the historical/contemporary in relevant and intriguing ways. The exhibition was the first of an ongoing series of medium-centric…

2018 Nov 10 – 2019 Feb 24

Curated by Arin Fay

Lost Thread is a group exhibition bringing together several regional, provincial and National artists who are creating on the forefront of contemporary textiles in Canada and are practicing in respective spaces that push the boundaries between craft/art, and the historical/contemporary in relevant and intriguing ways. The exhibition was the first of an ongoing series of medium-centric group exhibitions. Followed by THROWN and SHUTTER, these types of exhibitions enable us to see the expansive possibilities within a given medium and create opportunity for dialogue amongst a diverse range of artists.

Participating artists: Philip Hare, Bettina Matzkuhn, Amanda McCavour, Sylvie Roussel-Janssens, Wendy Toogood, Anna Torma, Matthew Varey, Angelika Werth and Robin Wiltse (Artist in Residence, funded by the CKCA/CBT and in partnership with Selkirk College)

Angelika Werth

Angelika Werth is a contemporary sculptor/designer working in fiber. Influenced by her time in Paris at Yves Saint Laurent, her theatrical garments are both stand-alone sculpture and wearable art. Meticulous craftsmanship, aesthetic beauty and innovative design are the hallmarks of her work.

Angelika’s work has been exhibited widely in Canada and abroad and is included in private collections from the B.C. Provincial Collection to the Cambridge Art Gallery in Ontario.

She has received awards from the B.C. Arts Council, Canada Council and won second price in an international exhibition in Chateau Chassy en Morvan, France. She is a Teacher of Pattern Drafting and Design, Fibre Construction, Advanced Detailing, Advanced Pattern Design, Draping and Upholstery and Objects for Interiors for the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson as well as workshops around B.C. and Alberta and is the 2008 recipient of the B.C. Creative Achievement Award

Artist Statement

Ashes to Ashes reflects a place of historic sorrow; in this instance the Battle of Hastings (1066 ad) it was inspired by the depiction of the battle in the Bayeux Tapestry. The battlefield is revisited 950 years later by Queen Matilda, dressed in a Hairshirt, attached to a landscape train. Ashes to Ashes represents the spirit of a place, the layers, the story, history and memory, it honours the earth we come from and return to. Ashes to Ashes deals with the political, social and environmental events that take and took place in a specific landscape: the terrain, la terre or le terroir: places were people lived, loved and died.  This piece is material based. It is made from horsehair interfacings, originating from deconstructed Harris Tweed jackets, vintage embroidered linens, vintage Lacrosse armor, mother of pearl buttons, found objects, vintage gloves, deconstructed paintings. 

Amanda McCavour

McCavour holds a BFA from York University where she studied drawing and in May 2014 she completed her MFA in Fibers and Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. McCavour shows her work in galleries nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions in 2018 in Tulsa (OK), Stratford (ON), Annapolis Royal (NS), Grande Prairie (AB), Antigonish (NS) and Edmonton (AB). She has recently completed residencies at Harbourfront Centre’s Textile Studio in Toronto, at Maison des Métiers D’art de Québec in Quebec City and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in Dawson City, Yukon. She has received numerous awards and scholarships from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, The Toronto Arts Council, The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of
America, Craft Ontario, The Ontario Society of Artists, The Surface Design Association and The Embroiderers Guild of America.

Artist Statement

In my work, I use a sewing machine to create thread drawings. By sewing into fabric that dissolves in water. I can build up stitched lines on a temporary surface. The crossing threads create strength so that when the fabric is dissolved, so that the thread drawing can hold together without a base. With only the thread remaining, these images
appear as though they would be easily unraveled and seemingly on the verge of falling apart, despite the works raveled strength. I am interested in thread’s assumed vulnerability, its ability to unravel, and its strength when it is sewn together.
Through an exploration of line and its 2-d and 3-d implications, stitch is used in my artwork to explore various concepts such as connections to home, the fibers of the body and more formal considerations of thread’s accumulative presence. I explore embroidery’s duality- it’s subtle quality versus it’s accumulative presence and it’s structural possibilities versus it’s fragility.
In my newest installation titled “Poppies”, I explores the fleeting nature of this delicate flower by rendering and preserving the moment of the poppy in bloom in thread. Shifting the perspective of a traditional garden, viewers are invited to walk underneath the poppy field. I invite the multiple associations of the poppy and its symbolism, from
sleep, to rememberance to death. This surreal moment suspended in time looks to garden spaces while also suggesting the repeat patterning on floral fabrics or wallpapers.

Anna Torma

Anna Torma was born in Tarnaörs, Hungary in 1952 and graduated with a degree in Textile Art and Design from the Hungarian University of Applied Arts, Budapest in 1979. She has been an exhibiting artist since that time, and has produced mainly large-scale hand embroidered wall hangings and collages. She immigrated to Canada in 1988, and has lived and worked in Baie Verte, New Brunswick since 2002. 

Torma has exhibited her work internationally and is represented in many public collections, including: the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; La Peau de l’Ours, Montreal; Foreign Affairs Art Collection, Ottawa; MSVU Art Gallery and AGNS, Halifax; New Brunswick Art Bank and Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton; and Mint Museum, Charlotte. 

In 2005, Torma received a UNESCO Aschberg Foundation Bursary to attend a residency at Cooperations in Wiltz, Luxembourg; in 2007, she was a recipient of the Canada Council’s Paris Studios Grant; and in 2008 she received the Strathbutler Award from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation. Her major solo exhibition, Bagatelles, was mounted first at the New Brunswick Museum, Saint John (2012), travelled to Bellevue Arts Museum, Seattle (2013), the Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa (2014) and Galerie 1700 La Poste, Montreal(2016) 

Torma is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and was a 2014 recipient of the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for High Achievement in Visual Arts. 

Artist Statement

My creative practice is craft based; I have long history of producing large-scale hand embroideries and exhibit them internationally. I do hand embroidery, telling stories on hand-stitched surface. I fascinated by every aspect of my creative activity:  the material itself which can be fine silk or raw hemp, mercerized cotton, man-made fabric or found piece of needlework. Experience with textiles goes back where my conscious life began; playing with rag dolls undisturbed in a quiet corner of our farmhouse in Hungary. Drawing is very important part of my visual language. I choose subjects what I like around me: gardens, food, nature, family, friends, primitive art. I do figurative works, the elements of the image could be borrowed from found objects, children’s drawings or street art. I developed a fluent and productive working method with hand-stitching technique, and I can produce large hangings in series and in installation form. 

Bettina Matzkuhn

has invested a lifetime in textile work with an emphasis on embroidery and fabric collage. In the 1980s, her NFB animated films –using textiles– garnered awards and an interest in narrative continues to inform her work.  She holds a BFA in Visual Arts and an MA in Liberal Studies from Simon Fraser University. She explores personal and social stories about history, geography and the natural world, using a wide variety of textile techniques, materials and presentations. She exhibits her work across Canada and internationally, writes professionally on the arts, lectures, teaches and volunteers. 

Artist Statement
My Life Jacket: Peace was included in the national exhibition at the craft biennale in Burlington last September. It is constructed like a real life jacket but has a hand- embroidered lining. I will be making more life jackets in this series that explores what we need to float. The work refers to refugees worldwide (my parents were refugees) and to changes to our geopolitical world brought about by global warming.  

The first jacket is Peace as without that, everything else is tenuous at best. Other jacket linings may include themes of shelter, family, work, and food expressed through imagery of the natural world. Many human catastrophes are linked to natural ones. 

Matthew Varey

Matthew Varey lives and works in Toronto, Canada. He has exhibited in more than fifty solo and one hundred group exhibitions. His work has been collected by the McMaster Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Bank of Montreal, the Vancouver Stock Exchange, Cenovus Energy, and private collections in Korea, Greece, Germany, Italy, Norway, England, the US, and Canada. He is the founder of Etobicoke School of the Arts Contemporary Art, the world’s leading high school art program. Matthew Varey has established communities of artists since 1987, which have included Compound, a collective of artist run and community art centers in and around Hamilton, ON; IronMen, comprised of John Scott, Gary Michael Dault, and Matthew; and Hektor Projects.

Artists Statement

Everything is, or once was, a trauma. Everything was once painful and raw. In time, everything becomes wreckage. Trauma becomes sanded and worn. It collects rust.

Ruins shift in form. Wreckage begins to outgrow its own devastation, until the wreckage itself no longer implies a loss of shape, but the passage of time. Only in time is transcendence of history possible. Only in time is the language of trauma exhausted. If travelled across enough cities, through enough bodies and generations, dropped from enough mouths, the language is only a memory of language.

Matthew Varey’s use of wreckage as a material practices this same passage of time. The very material of the work requires it to eventually surpass its own history, to be only itself in time. Like ruins which change shape, the work does not demand that history is forgotten, because it cannot be. It does, however, demand the passage of time, because only in time can trauma be less destructive. Only in time can ruins surpass their sadness. Only in time can a suit, designed to hide in a landscape, become a landscape of its own.

Wreckage will always be wrecked, and will not be reassembled. It will however, become its own material. – by Luca Soldovieri

Phillip Hare

Phillip Hare works primarily with textiles, at times incorporating them into installations. 

“Textiles appeal to me for a number of reasons.  Cloth has been a conveyance for storytelling for generations.  Traditionally, sewing has generally been considered “women’s work”.   I am a storyteller interested in exploding assumptions about sex and gender.  These themes figure prominently in much of my work.  I approach them from a quintessentially queer perspective.  I am also intrigued by our relationship with clothing and adornment, especially the symbolic power of certain items of clothing.  The balaclava is particularly charged.  I have been working with the balaclava since 2011 and continue to use it as a principle device. As my artistic practice evolves my interest in installations grows.  Just as textiles often elicit a desire to touch, I find the immersive quality of installation very seductive.”

Artist Statement

I’ll do just about anything if I’m wearing a mask. Anonymity can be very liberating. Just ask anyone who’s encountered a glory hole (or a confessional). Masks can come in many forms: balaclavas, beards, burkhas, hairpieces, harnesses, hoodies, robes, rhetoric, religion.

The “War on Terror” may have abated, but the war on sexuality continues under the guise of “morality”. What motivates most oppressors is their own fear. Ironically, it’s their favourite tool with which to oppress. The righteous, when fully engorged, can cast a long shadow.

In 2007 the president of Iran declared that, “homosexuality does not exist in Iran”. That same year four men were sentenced to be hanged there for sodomy. In 2011, David Kato, a Ugandan teacher and LGBTQ activist was murdered because of his sexual orientation. A Ugandan newspaper had printed a photo of him and a number of other queer activists along with their addresses under the headline: “Hang Them”. In October, 2012, 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, from Ottawa, committed suicide after years of relentless bullying. Also in 2012, the Ontario Catholic School Board tried to deny students the right to use the term “Gay/Straight Alliance” for LGBTQ support groups in their schools. The students won.

The dictionary defines “terrorism” as, “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”. Well, countless countries around the world (and a few religions too) are waging a war of terror on queers that is nothing short of genocide. TERROR!ST is the antithesis of a white flag. It’s a rainbow missive to the masses: “Rise up against the demonization of sex!”


Robin Wiltse

Robin Wiltse was born on Vancouver Island BC and grew up on a rural farm in Black Creek. It was while attending The Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson BC that she learned and was enchanted by the art of felting. Robin brings her love of drawing and illustration into her felt pieces through the combined methods of needle and wet felting. 

This artist’s fibre work has been show in many juried exhibits around Canada and is in private collections far and wide. Robin’s work was included in the book 500 Felt Objects, representing fibre artists from all over the world.   The recipient of many Art Starts Grants, Robin shares her love of art through teaching and has worked with many BC children. 

Robin lives with her family in Kaslo BC and works out of a studio in the historic Langham building. 

Artist Statement

In January 2016 my eldest daughter Rowan was diagnosed with an untreatable form of bone cancer called Chondroblastic Osteosarcoma. By May of that same year she had had her right leg amputated. Rowan passed away February 17, 2017. She was 17 years old. 

This felting is a visual depiction of the absolute nightmare that was the constant worry and fear for Rowan’s life during that year. It’s a small window into the driven madness that I felt, and the all consuming quest that I was on to find a sign, a clue, a reason and a cure. It represents the chaos that was my mind and the Hieronymus Bosch like world I suddenly found myself living in. There is a lot of personal symbology used here. During this time, I was desperately looking for symbols everywhere, it seemed anything could have meaning and I was looking for the answer. 

This special opportunity of a three-week residency with Touchstones has allowed me the opportunity to explore that period of time and my memories of it. This was a self indulgent exercise for me and certainly the most personal piece I have ever attempted.  To have had the uninterrupted time to devote to the process of remembering and sorting, taking those pieces and putting them into colours and shapes has been quite a gift of healing for me. Through this residency I have also had a chance to reconnect to the art school I went to 20 years ago, where I met Rowan’s father and where I first learned the art of felting.   

I know this will not be my only creative effort to process everything that was Rowan, but it was the start. 

Sylvie Roussel-Janssens 

Born in Montreal, Sylvie Roussel-Janssens lives in British Colombia since 1980. She graduated with honours from Emily Carr College of Art in 1984, specializing in sculpture and now lives in Chilliwack. She shows frequently and obtained a Canada Art Council in 2001 for Sumas Lake: 22 Miles of Memories, an amphibian sculptural installation about Sumas Lake, a disappeared tidal lake in the Fraser valley. Her work shows her interests in history and the environment. 

Sylvie’s approach to sculpture is equally conceptual and based in the joy of the building process. Her light sculptures are welded wire and fabric constructions. They take three forms: sculptural installations, light boxes with integrated lighting and window panels. Sylvie developed her own techniques: “fabric burning”. By using a soldering iron on synthetic fabric, she burns small holes in synthetic fabric to obtain rich and complex images. She also sews pieces of acetate on the fabric that are photocopies of images and text. Sylvie Roussel-Janssens is pursuing her journey with light sculpture, at the intersection of art, craft and design. 

Artist Statement

Best Foot Forward was inspired by a conversation I had many years ago, with someone I did not know very well, about the challenges of an artistic career. Not being a native English speaker, I liked to visual impact of this new expression and filed it to the back of my mind. It resurfaced as I was working on my fabric and welded wire sculpture in 2017.

For many years, my sculptural installations had been focused on environmental issues. It became a bit too much to bear and I delved into works inspired by personal memories. Lac Sainte-Marie and Archipelago came to life around that time. Best Foot Forward is perhaps one of the most personal pieces coming out of that period because I am using images of my children’s feet as newborn. It is about growth, change and dualities. From birth, we leave a mark. I can see how different the black ink impressions of two individuals can be. It is so mysterious.

My humble beginnings in art as a teenager were with sewing and quilt making. I away kept the love of textiles and working with patterns. In sculpture, the repetition and modification of a geometric form bring infinite possibilities.

As life unfolds, so is a quilt. Best Foot Forward is the quilt of my midlife, as I put my right, then left foot forward, ready for the next adventure.

Wendy TooGood

Wendy Toogood was born in Bristol, England in 1947; she has lived in Canada since 1952 and she is a Canadian citizen. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art (Calgary) in 1969 and did post graduate work at the Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in 1970. Toogood has received a number of awards including: Awarded the designation of Lecturer Emeritus by the Alberta College of Art & Design 2009; a number of Canada Council grants; Alberta Achievement Award, 1984; Lieutenant Governor’s Award, Winnipeg Art Gallery (Best in Show: Reflections Exhibition), 1984; Prize for Excellence, and, The Outstanding Entry Award; Canadian Guild of Crafts, 1971; Canadian Guild of Crafts Exhibition, Toronto; work chosen by the National Gallery of Canada for the Four Hangings Exhibition, which toured Canada, 1970; in 1987 she was nominated for the Saidye Bronfman Award by the Alberta Craft Council. In 2002 she received an Alberta College of Art & Design Alumni Award of Excellence. She has also completed a number of public commissions including: City Hall, Edmonton, Alberta; First Alberta Place, Calgary; Nova Corporation, Calgary; Red Deer College, Red Deer, Alberta; Expo 86 – Alberta Pavilion, Vancouver, British Columbia; Harry Hays Federal Building, Calgary. Wendy Toogood has lived in Nakusp, BC since 2006.

Artists Statement

In 2005 I was invited to teach a design workshop to quilters in Columbus, Ohio. To prepare for the workshop I started to sort out the elements I wanted the students to be aware of during the classes such as: negative space, colour, texture, composition, etc.. I produced five small fabric constructions or collages to symbolize the content of what I wished to cover each day of the five day workshop. As I was creating the collages I became hooked on working in the small format. In 2006 I moved to Nakusp from Calgary. That same year I was invited to exhibit a body of work in a Calgary art gallery. I decided I would continue working with the small 5.5 x 8 inch format and requested a year of studio time to construct 100 new cloth constructions which I titled A Nakusp Narrative. The works documented my day to day activities and interests in my new environment.

Drawing has been a crucial aspect of my practice for many years, really since art college in the sixties. I have always employed drawing as a vehicle to document my vacations when I was traveling. For example, when I visited Mexico at the end of each day I would create a drawing in my sketchbook/journal to help me remember the events of the day. On occasion I would develop some of these drawings into large cloth constructions.

My working process for the fabric constructions involves generating numerous quick line drawings representing a specific activity or theme. I start by drawing with my left hand. I am right handed but using my left hand forces me to simplify the drawing and I really enjoy the exaggerated shapes which result from this approach. These drawings are rough but they have an energy I enjoy. I then develop the drawing by employing tracing paper and drawing with my right hand until I am satisfied with the results. Next I transfer the drawing onto canvas which I embellish by hand embroidery, stitching and applique. I complete each fabric collage before I start a new one. The initial drawings are done very quickly but after that the process is somewhat obsessive and time consuming. It is important to me that each unit has significant evidence of being created by hand. The central image in each of the units is a stylized figure which represents me. Some of the themes I employed are: gardening; news items I heard on the CBC including BC wildfire reports this summer; thrift shop purchases; volunteer work; activities with friends and family; cooking dinners or special dinners I attend; common household activities. I work intuitively documenting everyday events as I want to remember these experiences and make them special which I endeavour to do through my working process.

See Also

Arin Fay Curatorial Essay

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