Monday, December 31, 2018

Articulation blog 4 :
                                                            AN END TO A GREAT YEAR

Articulation Textile Group have had a busy year of production and exhibition that was highlighted by the Sidney Museum Show entitled, "WAR: A PERSONAL RESPONSE". The show was a successful 6 weeks of exhibition time in the company of Peter Garnham, Executive Director, and dynamo Alyssa Gerwing, Assistant Director of the Sidney Museum, who helped to facilitate the display of our very personal works into effective installations.

Arriving on the Island with bodies of work
Over 500 visitors made their way into the gallery and museum to take in our show and we are very grateful for all the positive feedback the show has received.
Our group of Canadian Fibre Artists worked under the initial premise of researching our family histories to learn how war has impacted future generations of our respective families. The process was enlightening and emotional and the final works were produced using techniques that included: quilting, deconstruction of clothing, hand and machine stitching, reprographic processes, soft sculpture, installations in fabric, paper and assembled objects and 3D embroidery.
Victoria local, Lesley Turner created an installation representing her grandmother's PTSD state of mind by combining a variety of domestic arts: stitch, knitting, embroidery and deconstruction to illuminate the personal triggers that were a constant in her grandmothers world. These daily reminders of her circumstances as a war widow, unsupported after her husbands suicide, achingly illuminates the vulnerability of a generation, literally coming apart at the seams.
Wendy Klotz's work focused on a grandfather killed in action who left behind an infant son. Family became the centre of her explorations in felt, fabric and paper, many inspired by a singe oversized portrait of the former serviceman whose diminished presence is amplified in felted, "As Time Goes By". Eighteen poppies commemorate the children, grandchildren and great grand children he never knew in Wendy's blanket of poppies, made to distinguish his grave from the many military graves surrounding his, at rest, in Belgium.
Donna Clement of Calgary displayed work that focused on the industry of the immigrant displaced by war and political upheaval. Donna's installation of the canning cabinet illuminates the resourcefulness of a people displaced, surviving and thriving and holding onto their history through food and the contribution of women. Eco dying as well as hand and machine quilting and paper constructions were also included in Donna's installation. 
Saskatchewan quilter and book artist, Lean Clifford, stitched her family story into fabric. The Dresden plate pattern showcasing examples of domestic linens and handkerchiefs reflects the desire of women in general and Lean's family in particular, to tend to personal details even in adversity. Her industrious quilted contribution keeps us mindful of the way this poignant theme continued to inspire us all to create just one more piece, over and over again.
Winnipeg fibre artist, Ingrid Lincoln, was born in the Ukraine. Her family experienced the Russian Revolution and world wars I and II. "Remember the Children" shows her as a young child labelled as a refugee with a tag around her neck. In the tragedy and upheaval of wartime Ingrid's mother held onto her memory of the beautiful cherry orchard she recalled from her homeland which Ingrid beautifully recreated sculpturally with machine embroidery and wire. Her work reminds us there is light, even in darkness.
I have family connections to wartime in England through my mother who was born in Sheffield in 1942 as well as to a Canadian medic, my father in law, who landed on Juno Beach on D Day. My works were inspired by the poppy which I paint frequently in my painting practice and enjoy for their cheeky personification of shape and personality. A single poppy, gifted me by Tony Bates, my current day sheffield connection who gathered the commemorative piece below (see last image) as a schoolboy. This fabric poppy was the first inert object he had known to fall from the sky. It reminds me of the resilience of children who find simple pleasures despite the adversity of their circumstances.  A family trip to Juno Beach in Normandy in the spring of 2018 inspired awe and gratitude for the contribution of those who came before us and whose sacrifices allow us to live and travel peacefully today.

The War Project provided a new way to approach fibre arts production for our Articulation Group. Working in community on a common theme became more and more personal as each member dove deeper into their personal histories. We learnt a lot about ourselves and each other and supported each others revelations and products. The resulting works when displayed inspired our visitors to discuss and discover their own connection to the subject and to appreciate with new eyes the sacrifices made in the past that make our present and future so precious.
Taking a breather by the Sea, Sidney BC
Thank you to all involved for your many contributions. A special thank you to Lesley Turner who took the wheel in hand and drove this puppy through its development and home. Gathering on the island to install the show was a further reinforcement of the community this group of fibre artists has successfully woven. I think I speak for all of us when I extend our very best wishes for a happy and healthy, fibre filled New Year for 2019. Stay tuned at the end of each month for future news of our combined creations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

War: A personal response, "Connection" by Amanda Onchulenko

Articulation's exhibit "War: A Personal Response" at The Sidney Museum is fast approaching and members are finalizing projects and organizing shipping. The art making process takes precedence for many of us but the logistics of transportation and presentation are also a factor in assembling a show. I am grateful for friends with recent large Ikea purchases and engineers in my lineage that made the manipulation of "Connection", "Rain", "Protection" and parts of "Soft Landing”, into an Air Canada friendly container, manageable, despite it feeling like wrestling a crocodile into a cake tin. 

How to wrestle a crocodile into a cake tin...shipping artwork

While we get final preparations underway feel free to check out member’s musings on particular projects like my “Connection” below.

"Connection": 62"x 20" by Amanda Onchulenko 2018
16" dye sublimated fabric panels, Lake Winnipeg drift wood and lucky rocks.

Follow the links below to check out other members projects:

"It’s hard to imagine where our individual paths might take us when we are young and unattached but looking back with a little hindsight often illuminates the threads of connection that have led us to where we are in the present.

Standing on Juno Beach in Normandy earlier this year as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, in the twilight of a lovely spring evening, I marvelled at my two grown daughters as they took in the calm expanse of ocean alongside their Dad.
Steve Onchulenko leaves home to serve.

The four of us were alone with our thoughts where 70+ years earlier Steve Onchulenko, Grandfather, Father and In-law, had landed in a tin U boat alongside thousands of Canadian soldiers, and embarked on a very different journey to the one we were enjoying.

Steve was a strapping, barely of age, prairie boy with an affinity for languages, who trained as a medic before finding himself on this very shoreline at much the same age as my children are today. He was not a tourist and much later in his life declined an invitation to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the D Day landings, claiming he had been there once and had, absolutely, no desire to return.

He didn't talk about his experiences often but on what was possibly my first Thanksgiving weekend visit to my then boyfriend's family, Steve went into his dresser and came back to the kitchen table where his family was casually gathered.
Opening a keepsake box full of trinkets and coins he sat down and calmly began to describe some of the events and people that were connected to the objects in his possession. He shared snippets of a past unspoken life to a room grown silent. I later discovered the reverence of the subject matter had his children listening with wide eyes and open mouths, to war stories they too were hearing for the first time. When he was finished with what I thought was a family tale, he packed up his little box and returned to establish a game of cards.
Sam in 2014 found Grandpa's plaque at the D Day memorial 

 What inspired a long silent Veteran to share tales of his wartime service? Did my foreign status inspire a long buried memory of his own being far from home or was i just lucky to have discovered a familiarity in the spirit of a man who would fling me expertly around the dance floor at my wedding to his youngest son and become the advocate of our daughters, his youngest grandchildren?

Grandpa as I knew him, supervising his garden

Every family has legendary stories that inform the young of the antics of the old and Articulation’s War Project has inspired me to take the time to revise them. Grandpa was known to have some speedy wheels on his return to Canada after the war, not to mention a family connection to a renowned still during prohibition. On that Normandy beach I remembered the gentle grandpa who grew raspberries, warm with summer sunshine, and shared them peacefully with his grandchildren under the shade of his beloved birch tree. I was grateful for the events that had brought my family to this spot on the earth and for the family connections that keep us close to those who have come before us.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Inspiration Station 1: "War : A Personal Response", Sidney Museum 2018

Poppies assembled.


In 1990 I remember being on a city bus in Sheffield, England, with my grandmother enroute to visit another relative when I asked why there were gaps in the rows of terrace houses? My grandmother casually responded, "They were bombed in't war Dook".

One such home belonged to Nan's friend Mabel across the street, who, on hearing the air raid sirens sounding yet again, refused to join her family and neighbours. Instead, she took a poorly timed gamble to take cover under her own kitchen table.

A babies silver cup.

Yesterday while photographing my final piece, "Rain", for Articulation's upcoming show "War: A personal response", the enormity of those young mothers' emotions rained down on me. Having spent the last couple of weeks hand sewing poppies in silk, tulle, polyester and even white ticking. Red, for first aid and remembrance, the white ticking representative of the legend of my great grandparents' mattress blown clear out of a second storey window and safely intact in a boulevard tree after a particularly destructive evening campaign.

"Rain"by Amanda Onchulenko 2018

Between takes I watched the bone handled, made in Sheffield knives as they dangled from their lines. The cutlery is representative of my great grandfathers profession as a silver piercer while silverware such as the babies cup, is representative of my mother, a toddler at the time. These articles, strung together with poppies, floated gently under the bright lights. The lines that last weekend were tangled into a frustratingly indecipherable hot mess in my kitchen, disappeared, and all I could see and feel were symbolic implements floating aloft on the currents of air.

I imagined home and contents exploding into oblivion. Where one moment a young mother held onto her hearth alone, and the next she was gone. I thought of my grandfather's sister walking three miles with a toddler and babe in her arms, not knowing if her family had survived the night. And my dear grandmother, with my own mother in her arms, emerging from the damp confines of the shelter to discover the gap in the row of terrace houses across the street, where hours ago her friend had gone.

Photography by Rob  Barrow, Winnipeg.
Home and contents aloft.

Monday, October 1, 2018

2018 Retreat in SK, and exhibit in BC

Waskesiu Twilight
Canadian Fibre Arts Group ARTICULATION spent a pleasant week together in Northern Saskatchewan in August amongst the lovely views of Elk Ridge Resort and surrounds. Manitobans in the group could have mistaken Waskesiu National Park for Clear Lake but no matter where in Canada we go I can confidently say that the landscape, the weather and the company are always inspiring. 
During the visit, beyond our annual general meeting, Lesley led our preparations for Articulation's upcoming show WAR: A Personal Response to be shown at The Sidney Museum. (Oct 16-Nov 29) See the poster in the previous post.
Traditional Toe Shot 
Articulation members are part of a population blessed by location and circumstance who have not personally experienced war in their lifetimes to date. Our inquiries into family histories within this topic, personally and collectively, set us on a journey of discovery. It was here that we unearthed tales of courage and sacrifice and were awed and inspired by the actions of generations of families inhabiting a very different world to our own. Themes and stories emerged that inspired our creative connection to the fibre arts and this is the work on display. 

The show exhibits a particularly human side of a conflict and reminds us that the threads connecting the past to the present reflect our similarities as people navigating a world, despite our personal differences, backgrounds and political views. We hope if you are in the area you will take it in and possibly share in a personal tour with Lesley, Donna, Wendy or myself, Amanda, October 16-19.
Lesley's knitting

As the newest member of Articulation, (2015), this will be my first time exhibiting with the group and I am excited to share space with such an esteemed group of creative souls. I look forward to challenging my artistic paradigms and extending myself beyond my expressive comfort zone on future projects.
To that end, you will find me more regularly on this blog once I move beyond some technical challenges (fears) and assume my new job title, perhaps by default, as the group's Blogger.
Until next time...

Find me on Instagram as Mandartcanada.

Friday, September 14, 2018

WAR: A Personal Response Exhibition October 16 - November 29, 2018

Articulation is joining the Sidney Museum in commemorating the 100 year anniversary when the Armistice was signed ending World War I in Europe. 
Six Articulation members will each install a body of work exploring their personal war experiences.
The Sidney Museum will have many artefacts on display illustrating Canada's involvement in past wars up to today's UN Peace Keepers.
The exhibition is in the Sidney Museum, 2423 Beacon Avenue, Sidney BC V8L 1X5. 
It opens October 16th and closes November 29, 2018.
Artist-led tours are available. Please call Alyssa, Assitant Director, at 250 655 6355 to book a group tour.

Articulation visits the war memorial in Weyburn Saskatchewan.
Unlike other projects, the individual WAR bodies of work did not come out of a specific annual Study Session. Over the past few years, Articulation members have visited war-related museums and memorial sites whenever they have been together to do research.

Each Articulation member responded to different stimuli as they explored their own personal memories of war and how it has affected their family.

One of the more memorable visits was the Weyburn Mental Hospital Museum.  
Check out details in this post here

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gimli - a Little Bit of History

'In 1875 a group of Icelandic immigrants who had arrived in [Canada] moved to the west shore of Lake Manitoba where they had been granted a reserve of land by the Canadian Government...The immigrants formed their own administration based on a centuries-long tradition of democratic government...The Republic of New Iceland was created.'

The Rural Municipality of Gimli was established in 1887.
'The early immigrants came full of hope for a new life of opportunities and settled the land made available through homestead rights. The free offer of a 1/4 section (64 acres) to common people, most of whom had never owned land was a major attraction. But there were many difficulties - dense bush, flies, field stones and harsh winters which had to be endured.'
Quotes from various historic markers.

The Icelanders brought their pagan religion with them and found many parallels and an affinity with the First Nations peoples' beliefs.
This Unitarian church, built in 1904, is the oldest in Gimli. It represents the shift to a Christian based religion yet at the same time, the raven's nest is left in the spire as a remembrance of the importance of the raven in old Norse mythology.

Inside the church, while admiring the contemporary stained glass window, Janis Arnason kindly explained to us the history of the window.
It illustrates the life of John J. Arnason, 1925 - 1989, a man who led the church - his first job as a strawberry picker, his restoration of the school, his building of a dam, his restoration of the church.

The restored school is now Gimli's town hall.

Wherever we went people were willing and able to explain to us the history of the area. Icelanders know their roots and know how they are connected to others in their community. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Icelandic Horses in Manitoba

Our 1st stop out of Winnipeg was to see Icelandic horses.

About 17 years ago 2 Arnason brothers decided to fulfill their father's dream to bring Icelandic horses to Canada. The catch was once a horse leaves Iceland it is never allowed to return so as to maintain the pure bloodline.
The brothers filled a plane with 87 horses and settled them on a specially built farm where they have flourished in the Canadian prairie climate. 
To read in more detail about the Arnason's Icelandic horse story click here

The farm manager, Sharon, our guide, has just released these horses from a coral out to a clover pasture. She can't leave them out there for too long or for too often because the clover is like candy for them.
Icelandic horses are known to thrive in harsh conditions, forage well for their own food, and grow a very thick coat in winter while living outside. Sharon said they puff up like teddy bears as soon as the weather turns cold.  They are the horse breed with the longest life span, up to 56 years. They are a breed with many other positive characteristics. Read what Wiki says here.
The Arnasons are rewilding their farm. Over the years they have noticed a lot more wildlife and a greater variety is visiting and passing through or is now living with the horses.

They are known for their gentle nature with humans and other animals. Over their long history, they have been used to herd sheep, carry very heavy loads for their size and with a rider cover great distances over uneven rocky ground with surefootedness at great speed. 
A unique feature of Icelandic horse is they have 5 gaits. While watching the video notice how large the rider is in comparison with the size of the horse which shows how strong this breed is. Also, note, once the horse is in the tolt gaits how smooth the ride is for the rider - the shoulders stay level. Check this video view here .
This video shows a magnificent horse capable of doing the super tolt view here 

Sharon with one of her favourite mares. This horse is a great mother and like her breed is a smart problem solver.

Mandy had an affinity with the horses being a horse rider herself.
Movies with lots of Icelandic horses: 
'Of Horses and Men' view trailer here
'Herd in Iceland' view trailer here