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 father-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

vEvery 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.
Amanda Onchulenko writes...


In 1990 I remember being on a city bus in Sheffield, England, with my grandmother en route 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 story 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 grandfather's 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.