Our Current Exhibition: The Mending Circle
A year-long journey of connection, creation, and collaborative solitude has culminated in a thought-provoking exhibit in our lucky space. Six women opened their hearts and imaginations, and stitched the past to the possible. The Mending Circle Project has arrived here, in Waterford, at long last. The six artists who contributed to this curated exhibit can be found below.
The OTH gallery / artisan shop doors are open Tuesday to Friday, noon-4 pm, and Saturday 10 am- 2 pm.
Artist Beverley Hawksley is a beloved and familiar name to many in our Old Town Hall community; if you’ve been here a few years you will remember Beverley’s thoughtful companion exhibit to the play Spin, presented in 2019. Since then we have kept the door open to ongoing collaboration, and were thrilled with her vision for The Mending Circle, and of course the prospect of premiering the culminating art exhibition at The Old Town Hall. Beverley had a vision of mending, of fixing broken materials, of a group of women meeting in virtual community, working on their own pieces of art. She gathered six makers to do just this. Beverley’s art is the first in our series of sneak peeks. Her piece involves a beloved coat which she thrifted many years ago along with other items she discovered tucked away around her home that she has mended together to tell her story.
Beth‘s artistry comes from a place of honouring that her own soul and spirit are nurtured by all things out-of-doors. Her process begins externally, retreats inwardly for reflection and returns to the external for perspective and expression.
In Beth’s words: “ANTIDOTES began with a series of photographs I took during my travels near & far. Some of the photos are close ups while some are aerials creating diversity reminiscent of the diversity of nature. The selected photos were then sketched into 8x8 format , traced onto transparencies and subsequently transposed onto a backing of either burlap or linen, and finally stretched (in this case) onto my tiny portable rug hooking frame. Yarns, fabrics etc are selected and away I go! Pure joy as each hooking evokes memories of the beauty and experiences experienced at that ‘place.’”
The resulting work is titled Antidotes to Nature Deficit Disorder.
Beth describes nature deficit disorder as a lack of exposure to nature, therefore resulting in a negative impact on one’s health. Antidotes depicts Beth’s personal relation to nature and acts as a visual expression of the importance of nature towards humanity’s wellbeing.
Vera joined the circle with her own personal mending in mind “(There were) so many words to unhear and scars to undo.” Her stitching process was sustained by the supportive presence of her mending sisters. Vera’s physical piece began with recycled materials: A jean jacket from BBJ Los Angeles, a family member’s vintage shawl, threads gifted in bulk from a crafty neighbour upon Vera’s recent move to her first apartment in Canada. For Vera, embroidery is like painting with threads. For the Mending Circle Project, she designed a Princess Warrior Outfit – a unique piece of wearable art. Creating this piece gave her the opportunity to intricately examine her own existence. Life forced her to develop the spirit of a warrior— Adolescent years in Soviet Russia and immigration trained her to face instability and to become resilient, and cancer taught her not to give up but to let go. Each element in the finished work represents some symbolic and personal force for Vera.
Marilyn is a transformative educator, artist, speaker, and facilitator. In her eyes, sewing is her way of weaving life stories together with the special people in her life – her mother, aunts, grandmother, and an extended community of women. Her works have been exhibited at the McMaster Innovation Park, The Transformative Learning Centre (OISE/UT) and the Ancaster Public Library, and she is a member of the Ancaster’s Quilters Guild.
Marilyn’s vision for this project was to bring forth forgotten items from her closet to be transformed into new patterns of creation; weaving fragments from her past into a new possibility for the future. The resulting wall-hangings “speak to the intimate role that fabric, buttons and beads play in our lives and how working with the material fragments of one’s past can both mend and reveal new personal and collective possibilities.” The process of creation began with taking stock of and sorting old clothes and household items. She brought these items out of the closet, out of forgotten memory, and into the present where they could be “reflected upon, edited, recombined and transformed into new patterns of creation.”
Marilyn’s creation, featuring vintage fabrics combined together with more recent ones, weaves together fragments of time and memory, and will enable viewers to feel inspired to create their own fabric pieces from the “fragments of their past,” through analysis of their own stories, memories, feelings, and relationships.
Elspeth used the opportunity this project provided to explore something that she had always been interested in: the relationship between paper and fabric. Her approach was unique and bold; instead of sticking with familiar art forms, she chose to experiment with new ways of making. Elspeth’s first project began with a 1969 Hudson’s Bay blanket and a pair of cotton jeans. After cutting up the jeans, she had them beaten into paper pulp. The following months she completed the laborious task of making several batches of small papers. Among many friends who contributed materials to her project, one of her fellow artists in this circle, Victoria Mathies, lent her special square needles that Victoria’s mother had brought from England in 1950. Elspeth found the entire span of this creative process to be thought provoking, and she has documented many of these thoughts to be read along with her art contributions.
Victoria Ryland Mathies
Victoria is a dynamo; she has worn many different hats throughout her working career- teacher, motivational speaker, and author- to name just a few. Since retiring, she has taken the opportunity to pursue creative endeavours and also taken time to return to her roots as a sewer and textile maker.
Victoria expresses that she has always been observer of the world, and of the people and the places around her. In her own words: “During the pandemic, I have looked beyond our earthly home. The moon—the globe in the sky that seems always to be watching us— has always fascinated me and I have used its various images generously in my work. But in the last year I felt moved to look beyond this place, beyond its troubles and pains and anguish, to what is farther away and untouched…”
About the pieces her wonderings have inspired: “This collection, which I have titled ‘Liminal’ showcases the world beyond what we can easily see… the transition spaces between where we were before and where we will be after. What does the world look like beyond our earthly perception? The earth will survive us; we may not, however, survive our damage to our beautiful habitat.”
We hope the artist’s words have piqued your interest; perhaps you’ll find that her textile works will inspire you to think beyond the earth and broaden how you consider what cannot be seen.
Thank you to Venture Norfolk for recognizing The Old Town Hall’s Art Gallery program through a matching fund grant. We have installed a state of the art hanging system that will serve artists showing their work in the Old Town Hall Gallery for years to come.