An odd title for a June blog post, perhaps, but In Winter is the title of the piece I first posted about on February 8th of this year. I didn’t want to write more about it while I was working on it, as it was destined to be my entry for the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s biennial juried exhibition Dimensions.
The image shows some of the letter squares that I cut for the piece. The work contains a total of one hundred and forty squares: some consist of pattern and some have letters which make up the text of the piece — “I wrap the hills around me like a shawl”. There are no two squares alike.
After I did all the hand cutting, I did some stitching on individual squares to mark watercourses and highlight the first letter of each word. The next step was to sew the piece together, first sewing squares into columns, then sewing all the columns together.
The first image shows some of the columns laid out. The second shows the first two columns sewn together with more waiting in order. Every hole for for every stitch in the piece had to be pre-punched by hand.
It took ten weeks to complete the piece, and with our departure for England looming, there were a few days when I thought that I wouldn’t get it done in time. I would calculate how much more work I needed to do and how long it would take and come up with different estimates each time.
Here’s the Artist’s Statement that I submitted along with the work.
In Winter is about a sense of place, a sense of belonging.
We stayed twice at The Thwaite Arms in Horsehouse, Coverdale on a walking holiday in North Yorkshire. On the second occasion we had a conversation with the landlord’s wife. She commented that many people found the high moors around the village dark and forbidding, especially in winter. She then described her own feelings, and that sentence is the text of the piece.
The piece is both a map and a shawl.
The design was created by combining the contour lines and water courses of a topographic map of Coverdale and environs with two grid patterns. The grids evoke the local stone-walled fields, stone field barns and stone houses with their small-paned windows. They also recall, together with the stitching, the types of lace patterns often produced using traditional domestic textile processes.
The colour scheme was chosen to represent winter: pale blue for sky and becks (streams); pale fawn for the faded grasses, sedge, and bracken; shades of white for clouds and Dales sheep and snow (with the occasional faint smudge for coal smoke).
Pins are used to mount the piece since pins are used both as markers of location on maps and for blocking lace after washing.
Last Friday night was the Dimensions Fine Craft Awards and Gala Reception at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. Here is my piece in the gallery
and here is a scan of my work in the catalogue.
I am elated. This is my third Premier’s Prize over the forty-odd years that I have been entering work in this exhibition. What makes it even better is that this is The Year of Craft in Canada as well as the fortieth anniversary of the Saskatchewan Craft Council. You can see more images of my work as well as the rest of the exhibition at the SCC website.
For those who may be wondering — yes, I think of this piece as an artist’s book. It has image and text and pages, and even folds up like an accordion. ; ]