When you walk into the Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply this week, it’ll be like entering into a bejewelled Aladdin’s cave. That’s because the walls will be covered in silk artwork made by 11 members of the mid-Island-based Silk Worm Art Group.
“The fantastic thing for me is the colours you can achieve by dying on silk,” said one of the show’s participants Nancy Korman. “It’s almost a stained glass look.”
“There’s a vibrancy to it,” fellow artist Judi Pedder added.
The show mainly focuses on paintings which are made by applying dye onto the fabric. According to Qualicum Bay artist Sharon Recalma, the pallet for silk painting includes only six colours: red, royal blue, golden yellow, magenta, turquoise and lemon yellow. She describes using such rudimentary colours “like going back to your kindergarten class.” However, she also explains that the artists’ images are not restricted in anyway because they can layer the dyes on their “canvas” or add water to create a whole spectrum of colours. Also, the final process of steaming the silk — which sets the dye and makes the fabric washable — brightens the colours.
Of course, nothing is quite as easy as it sounds. Dyes can have a mind of their own and, as Pedder said, “You don’t know quite what you got until it dries.” But to this artist, that’s half the fun. “You have to let go. You have to experiment,” she said.
Recalma agrees. Since joining the Silk Worm Art Group, she has worked to challenge herself. The club encourages her “to step outside our comfort zone,” she said.
“Everyone is so supportive of everyone else,” said Korman, who explained that the group gets together about once a month to share ideas and critique each other’s work.
The Silk Worm Group started around 2000 under the direction and tutelage of Maureen Walker. However, many of the artists were already painting in other mediums, explained Pedder, who was herself a watercolourist. This really helped each artist retain their individual style.
This is the group’s fourth show at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply. “We like to support the artists and art groups that have supported us throughout the years,” said one of the shop’s owners Bonnie Luchtmeijer. “They’ve got fantastic work.”
Alongside the paintings, the group will also have moccasins, cards, jewellery cases and scarves all made of dyed silk. There will also be Christmas ornaments, which will be displayed on a Christmas tree after the first week of the show. While Luchtmeijer admits that it is a little close to Halloween, it’s still “so nice” to have this aspect of the show.
The Silk Worm Art Group work will be displayed Oct. 27-Nov. 29. The gallery is open during regular store hours Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, you can contact Bonnie Luchtmeijer at 250-752-3471.