The ArtSpring lobby will be a marvellous field of colour and texture through to the end of August thanks to the Island Textile Artists’ third annual exhibition.
The group has been working together for over 10 years exploring fibre and stitch, and are self-professed admirers of a challenge. Their members are Linda Counsell, Elna Gravelle, Bobbi Janowiak, Gillian Kidd, Danielle Manners, Joanie Paterson, Susan Paynter, Karen Selk, Karen Tottman and Janet Wheeler.
At this year’s show, viewers can admire various members’ individual explorations, such as Wheeler’s abstract works framed over soothing midnight blue fields. On the Moors is a lovely, three-dimensional landscape painting made from multicoloured fibres and puff paint, while Windmills of My Mind contrasts arcs of warm metallic stitching over cosmic blue felt.
The above are just a few examples of what the members are up to. However, an equally interesting experience comes from those works that don’t come with any name attached.
Although not identified as such, a group of 10 pieces near the box office can only be self-portraits of the artists. Most of these works, but not all, represent a woman’s face. They are labelled but only with titles, materials and techniques. It’s up to the keenly observant viewer to find the key and determine which style they feel represents which artist based on their other work.
A similarly entertaining exercise can be found just down the stairs near the elevator lift. A massive group display in two paired panels comprises 12 individual panels made by each of the 10 artists, who created one square based on the same theme and colour for every month of the year. Taking the time to look at this collection carefully is a worthy endeavour for anyone who is fascinated by the textile arts, and the ways in which individual artists put their unique interpretations into every step.
Each grid represents five artists on the X axis and 12 months along the Y axis. The vertical bars represent shifts on the colour wheel plus two design concepts such as “line” or “gradation.” Therefore, the viewer can start somewhere like Yellow/Line/Proportion and scan downward to see how five different artists chose to develop this combination of ideas. Or one can start from the far left of the grid and follow one artist’s horizontal line to see how they worked through each month’s challenge — and how their expression incorporated and adapted to the parameters given.
Intense viewing of the group project can yield any number of discoveries. But with the show up all this coming month, a lighter but ongoing appreciation of the show’s basic joys is also likely.
For more on this story, see the July 31, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.