Saturday, August 20, 2016

moon cloth in hard twist

I prepared Moon Cloth for exhibition by signing my name.
I considered embroidering the title as well, but changed my mind.
careful, respectful, aware of my own art
each little thing

To see full image of this piece click here.
For more information about the Hard Twist exhibition in Toronto click here

Monday, August 15, 2016


detail of front - silk with silk and wool thread, judy martin
most of the back, quilted with hand embroidery, silk with wool batt, judy martin 100 " square
I put my silk quilt through the gentle cycle with cold water and hung it on the line.

make my way without a map

say yes to the experience that comes

trust beyond measure

Luce Irigaray

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sati Zech

 When I started to use the internet as a research tool, I came across the work of Sati Zech.
A 2006 exhibition of her red and white bollenarbeit series excited many art lovers.
The rounded shapes refer to the rounded hills of her childhood landscape in southern Germany. Currently, the artist resides and works in Berlin.
 This beautiful white space is the Heidelberg gallery that held that important 2006 exhibition.
Sati Zech also works with black vinyl. The wall piece above is large, nearly 160 inches wide.
New work is in rawhide and uses the motife of repeated circles.  (2014)
In 2010, Zeck participated in a resdency in California.  James Chute interviewed her and the following quotes are from his article in the June 27 San Diego Union Tribune.

“I don’t want to have any contact with quilts,” exclaimed Zeck, whose English is salted with a pronounced German accent. “I never thought about quilts. I don’t want to make quilts. I have nothing to do with it.”  The only parallels between Zech’s work and most quilts is they both involve fabric.  Both also have the function of providing warmth. Of course, you have to pull a quilt over you for that to happen. With Zech’s larger pieces, you stand in front of her strange, hypnotic red shapes and layered canvasses and your temperature starts to rise.

“You can see, I’m not a drawer; I’m not really a painter. I’m a sculptor. I’m not really interested in color. I use color to show energy, that’s why my work is warm.”   Most of all, she’s intrigued by the “language beyond normal language,” how people reach out, cope and connect beyond mere speech.  “What happens when the normal language stops and you are in a crisis in your life?” she asked. “You are in really deep trouble, then you use other languages.
“I traveled and worked for 10 years in Africa, and for me this was very important because I found the same experience, that people don’t trust what you are telling. They don’t trust your words but they trust your body, they trust how you move, the way you look into my eyes, much more than the words.”   “The color red, I don’t use it as a color, it’s more like a statement, more like reminiscent to Africa. I never thought about it, but I’ve always lived in cities, and I think it’s reminiscent of the warmth, the heat and the energy of Africa, and the empathy between the people."
click here to read the complete article
More about this artist over on modernist aesthetic. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

my alaska family

jack's badge that he designed,
indigo being transplanted by oona
oona with the japanese indigo 
sun shade, leaf compost, watering
jack's stitches
We have had some lovely visits with Oona and the boys this summer.  Love them so much.
The family re-locates to Alaska at the end of next week.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


a gift of time - linen wrapped clover
yesterday, today, and tomorrow
the small white cloths represent my daily walk
(before I lost the ability to do that walk)

last winter and spring I was making a piece about the importance for me of my daily walk on our country road
every day that I did that walk, I placed a square of white cloth into a basket
the white sweet clover is from our property
it grows along the beach and we consider it a weed
it smells so beautiful
it is as tall as me
the smell increases as the plant dries
art is a connecting force in our lives
it connects high-low, human-earth
it connects what we understand and what we don't
for ourselves and for others
my broken leg was a gift.
it gave me time and solitude
I didn't go anywhere for two months except to hospital or dr. appointment
I stayed on one level
I started going up and down (just 5) stairs on July 20, seven weeks after I broke that left leg

I stepped backwards into more space and less worry
what is it to become aware of the body?
it is to acknowledge that presence of death in life.
not a binary opposite but
enfolded at its very centre.  penina barnett
daily life and the news
they close us down
art opens us up again
we need art as much as we need food and shelter
these little bundles
about loss
about my body
about healing

bundled, wrapped, bandaged
step step step

Thursday, July 28, 2016


 This post is about the phulkari embroideries from the Punjab area of India.
I have long been inspired by the bagh (garden) embroideries where the stitches completely cover the ground fabric. (see here for another example)  They take several years to complete and are used in wedding ceremonies.
 All photos in this post are of the bagh I saw at the art institute of Chicago in 2015.
To get such accuracy in the geometric pattern, the stitches are worked from the reverse of the fabric using counted thread.  This is mind-boggling.
An interesting link with many more examples of phulkari traditional work is here.
Anne Morrell says:

Darning stitch in phulkari is usually started with a small knot or back stitch and finished with a little back stitch.  The embroidery is worked with the reverse side of the cloth facing the worker.  The stitches change direction, and this, combined with the use of an untwisted, soft floss silk thread, reflects the light, giving the surface a shiny appearance.  The traditional colours of thread include white, gold, orange, green and crimson.

Friday, July 22, 2016

turning the air to cloth

turning the air to cloth
Watching the birds whirling gracefully across the blue sky with undulating curves, I think how they look like cross stitches.  Then they disappear, fly away.
I was inspired to make something that might hold that ephemeral moment.
In this piece, embroidery is used as a quilting stitch to connect the birds and the air around them into a kind of spirit cloth.
The black birds that move so beautifully in unison over the fields could be seen as a metaphor for those dark yet brief moments that happen in all our lives.

Or perhaps they just show us that it's time to make a change in direction.
Round Lake Mud Bay 1915 oil on wood by Tom Thomson
There is an exhibition opening this weekend at the Perivale Gallery and I am showing this bird quilt.
Images of the full quilt can be seen here.

It is a two sided quilt.
Above Us is the second side of the wall piece turning the air to cloth.  The dark outlines of the birds in flight are filled with white or light coloured threads to signify peace and calmness.  The underneath side of the common embroidery stitches that cover the body of the quilt mark it with an unexpected, subtle drawing.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

hoop by hoop

 one thing at a time
slowing down
hoop by hoop.
I don't need much really.
This enforced quiet time is just what I've been wanting.
hoop by hoop
I use the hoop as a design tool
I stay within its boundary
not planning but trusting
I'm not sure it will be OK
 "living is a form of not being sure,
not knowing what next or how
the moment you know how
you begin to die a little"  agnes de mille
an emergence
an unfolding
hoop by hoop
like nature does
hoop by hoop
the creative act is miraculous
it is defined by its situation

we are defined by our situation
studied simplicity
the world's fragility
the connection of textiles and healing
hoop by hoop
this piece is very large  (nearly 9 feet square)
the size means that it is part of my life for years
three years just for the stitching

hoop by hoop
this cloth is physical evidence
of hours of labour
of silence
of stillness
of healing for body and soul
 "the repetitive motion of a line
the caress of it
the licking of wounds
the back and forth
the endless repetition of waves
the rocking a person to sleep
an endless gesture of love"  Louise Bourgeois
hoop by hoop
made with the body
not the mind
with the heart and the empty quiet
you never know what's going to happen
please let me be myself and love me for it
hoop by hoop

it shows a way