AIR Post #13 – Workshops and Wool

Wow, I am already beyond halfway through my time here at the Ranger Station as Artist in Residence. The weather is stunning today after months of rain and wind and it has me feeling quite perky. In fact I would describe the colour of the lake today as almost Lavender. I am quite attuned to the colours of the lake since in January I chose to start recording them. Several times a day I rush into the studio to dye another swab of my dwindling supply of cotton/silk cloth in a wash of watercolour to record the surface colour at that exact moment. This daily practice has led to some new work that I could/would never have planned but am quite happy with.

In the coming two weeks I will be hosting a few workshops. I am working towards making a sail from the dyed silk and the found fabrics from my trips to the thrift store. I am asking community members to write, draw or otherwise decorate these fabrics with memories, stories and observations of life by the water. This place, the district of Kent, is surrounded by water from the lakes to the Harrison River to the mighty Fraser River. It is a place alive with fertile land because of these waterways which surround it and at times have flooded it. I am hoping that the fertile minds of those who live here will provide me with the words that will carry me across the lake, down the Harrison River to the place where it joins the Fraser, in the form of a sail for my kayak. The sail will be shown in my exhibition in June and then tried and tested during July and August on the waterways. Failure could be imminent.

My practice of recording the colours of the lake surface has also led to a series of painting/print/sculptural works which I am really enjoying. They are Soft Truths of the lake, documenting colour but nothing of the geographical form of the landscape. I am currently working into them with stiff wool work that breaks their flatness and is reminiscent perhaps of baskets and clothing…they are being dressed. I like this state of in-between, it is a place “somewhere between thingness and theory” (Tai Smith, Bauhaus Weaving Theory). It is also exciting to be working on something totally unplanned. They are small, intimate pieces and have allowed me a freedom to experiment that I think might play into future work when all is done here.

In other news, me and the hubby will be returning to Vancouver Island after this residency in late August. Len has been offered a job in Comox Valley and so we return to the place we have loved so much over the past 5 years albeit to a more northern site. I am working on finding some teaching work up there and we are excited to resume our hiking/fishing/reading/camping adventures. It will be a crazy move again but I’m sure it will be worth it. Until then we have a fabulous Spring and Summer ahead at lovely Harrison Lake. Not too shabby on a day like today!

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