Judy Farrow

Surface design exhibit in Qualicum Beach

Mid Island Surface Design Group exhibit at TOSH, opening reception Sept. 7 at 2 p.m.

The latest exhibit at The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre is For The Birds.

The Mid Island Surface Design Group will be exhibiting their work at TOSH from Sept. 6 to Oct. 1. There is an opening reception at TOSH (122 Fern Rd., Qualicum Beach) on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m.

Mid Island Surface Design Group member Ionne McCauley said for this show, the group decided on a bird-related theme.

“Instead of having a word that can be interpreted in lots of different ways, this is a lot more cohesive,” McCauley said. “That sometimes happens, you get a word that’s so open to interpretation.”

While the group does have a more specific theme for the show, McCauley said there will be a huge range of work.

“Some people work with paper — strictly paper — collage, some people will add paper to fabric, some people will make three-dimensional things with wire, like sheers with wire embedded in it,” McCauley said. She added that other people will knit and use other types of textiles.

“It’s really interesting, lots of different things,” McCauley said.

McCauley said she mainly works with quilting and other three-dimensional fabric, while Judy Farrow, another group member, said she works mostly with textiles.

“I think because we don’t all work in the same medium,” Farrow said. “We bounce ideas off each other and you start incorporating things that you might not have done before.”

McCauley said the 14-member group shares ideas and influences each other.

“Everybody is willing to stick something else in their work, like maybe metal, wood, all kinds of different fibres,” McCauley said.

McCauley said when she starts a piece, she doesn’t have an exact idea of what she’s going to end up with. She said that it sometimes starts out abstract.

“For me that’s a good way. I just have an idea — maybe it’s a word or just a concept or a colour or a combination of things.”

McCauley added that inspiration can come from anywhere.

“I had a friend mail me a little rock from Australia one year,” said McCauley, who lived in Australia for several years. “I did work based on the lines in the rock.”

McCauley and Farrow said this isn’t the first time the group has shown their work at the Qualicum Beach art gallery, but they said this time they were invited by TOSH to showcase their work.

“Normally if people want to have a show at TOSH, you submit it, but we were actually invited as a group,” said Farrow, adding that it was quite impressive.

Both Farrow and McCauley said they have also done one-woman surface design shows at TOSH over the years.

The group, which has members from Qualicum Beach to Maple Bay, describes surface design as the colouring, patterning, structuring and transformation of fabric, fibre and other materials.

McCauley said that surface design is gaining in popularity.

“The thing with quilting is it goes in many different directions. As someone that wants to work with surface design, of any type, there’s so many directions to go,” McCauley said. “Anybody could take it up at any point and do something completely different from someone else.”

Since a lot of people move to Vancouver Island to retire, Farrow said she finds that a lot of women turn to quilting.

“Sometimes they quickly decide that traditional quilting is almost too lame for them. They need something more challenging, and so they tend to go in the quilt art direction or the surface design direction,” Farrow said.

“Here on the Island, there is a very sort of vibrant community of art quilters or surface designers.”

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