I live near La Ronge, northern Saskatchewan. La Ronge is a small community beside Lac La Ronge, a large lake of islands, trees, bedrock slopes, and cliffs. I am intimately involved in this landscape, as an artist, and as a wilderness canoe tripper, hiker and cross-country skier.
Nature sustains me in all ways. I need wild nature to feel really alive and happy. I live where a network of lakes and rivers connect the forests and muskegs, which I ski over in the winter, and canoe and portage across in the summer. I make art to share this place, and to allow the viewer to consider the rich, and precious importance of an undisturbed ecosystem. My subject matter is determined by my experiences in this landscape - witnessing a forest fire, paddling across a lake on a long canoe trip, looking up close at mosses and plants, or watching ravens play in the thermals over a frozen lake.
My textile art is made with pieces of fabric that are cut and collaged together and then stitched and quilted, to give rigidity. I like the tactile aspect of fabrics, the patterns, textures, sheen and colours available, how soft and homey they are. I was a painter for decades, but now prefer the hands-on, labour-intensive process of textile work. Fabric art warms a room and softens the sound quality. It can easily be rolled to transport.
I begin by sketching ideas, progressing from thumbnail sketches to a large drawing of the chosen composition. Or, I base my fabric work on one of my paintings. I sort and choose fabrics that suit different areas, and begin to collage cut-out pieces. The nearest fabric store is 250 km away, so I make do with what I have, which can lead to fresh and unexpected solutions. Sometimes I paint or dye fabric to achieve a desired colour. I place the pieces down loosely, allowing for many changes, moving and exchanging pieces in the manner of a collage. Finally, I sew everything in place, first with a satin stitch to stop any fraying and give a strong outline to each shape, and then with free-motion stitching to adhere the 3 layers of fabric and batting, to add more lines, and to embellish. The process varies from the purely creative, dynamic stages of design, drawing, and collaging, to the meditative ironing and hand basting of the layers, and then to the precise craft of the final machine sewing and binding.