There may sometimes be a fine line between crafting and art, but a group of experimental fibre enthusiasts look to cross it in stride with their latest exhibit running at TOSH from Jan. 6-27.
The Fibre Art Voices, a group of eight women from the Comox Valley area sew, stitch, weave and embroider in the hopes of gaining greater acknowledgement that what they do is like any other fine art, said group member June Boyle.
“We like to get our stuff into galleries so that people can start to appreciate fibre as an art,” she said. “We think of the fabrics or the fibres as our paint, and the lines that we do with either hand-stitching or a sewing machine are like the pencil lines in a piece of art. It’s important to us, that people really appreciate the use of fabric and the process as art.”
Boyle said the group is excited to have a show at TOSH, where seven of the group’s members will have about 35 pieces on display as part of two themes.
The first theme is called A fine line. The 24 pieces included in it (all of them triptychs, with two smaller and one larger piece done by each artist) all include a line that run through them, thereby connecting them all to each other, though each artist has used and represented the line in different ways, said Boyle.
“We all interpreted the fine line as we would,” she said, with the line being the inspiration for some of the artist’s work.
One artist riffed on the “fine line” concept to point out the fine line between a local species of butterfly and its being on the endangered species list.
“Gail Tellett was over on Denman Island and they have a refuge up there for the (Taylor’s) checkerspot butterfly,” said Boyle.
The butterfly, only found on Denman Island is “extremely rare” according to a provincial government conservation projects web page.
Tellett’s triptych shows a checkerspot caterpillar on a leaf in her first piece, the butterfly on a sunflower in her larger, second piece, and a group of the butterflies flying away in the third.
With the species created in 3-D, the three-part piece is “really stunning” said Boyle, and serves to describe the fine line between species like this one and being on the endangered list.
“Each of the pieces is totally personal and very unique,” Boyle said of the A fine line section of the show, “but it’s the line that runs through all of the show that unites them all.”
As for the second section called Indigo, it features the group’s experimentation with dying indigo colours.
“It’s a unique process,” said Boyle, involving mixing the dye until you get a sort of oily-looking bloom, plunge the fabric into the dye (using varying binding techniques to keep the dye from getting to some parts of the fabric, thereby creating patterns) and removing it to reveal a “very limey green colour” that eventually turns to indigo.
The pieces that came out of this experimentation include quilted work made from original patterns, framed collage pieces, mixed media as well as Japanese boro-inspired pieces.
“It’s an old way of mending clothing,” said Boyle. “The Japanese used a lot of indigo in their old work jackets and so-on, and if they had a hole in something, they just stuck a patch on it and then did straight stitching to cover it. And then they would put another patch on top of that when it was getting old. So now, some of these old jackets that they have that were based on indigo dying are quite valuable now. They’re a real big fad in Japan and elsewhere. So some of us have sort of used that in a few of the framed pieces.”
The Fibre Arts Voices show runs from Jan. 6-27 at TOSH in Qualicum Beach, with an opening reception on Jan. 10 starting at 2 p.m.
For more info on the Fibre Art Voices, go to www.fibreartvoices.ca/.