Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Leigh Square residency - reflections

Last fall, I did a three month artist residency at Leigh Square in Port Coquitlam. I had some expectations of what I wanted to accomplish during the residency.

Before I started I made a list of things that I wanted to work on. Here's the list (and my comments on what got done):

✔1. Weave on my rigid heddle looms:

Finish the left over warps from previous classes and projects:
✔AD's white warp
✔white and orange warp
✔ turquoise warp
Reacquaint myself with some rigid heddle weaving techniques: patterns and textures using pickup sticks and using two heddles.
✔ 1/2 twill using two heddles

✔exploring some patterns and textures

✔3. Figure out how the backstrap looms work
Someone gave me three backstrap looms that she found at a thrift store for almost nothing. I've been saving them to play with during this residency.

4. CD and hula hoop weaving
I was planning to base a proposal for a large artwork commission around some circular weaving using cds and hula hoops to create woven mandalas, but in the end I decided to go in another direction. I did do some weaving on CDs though and I'm hoping they will be the start of a large collection of circular weaving.

5. Create a series of three community banners
I had originally planned to use my rigid heddle looms to create the banners, but when I learned that there was a big floor loom at Leigh Square, I decided to use it instead. I wasn't able to convince many people to try weaving on it though, most people who came by just wanted to watch me weaving. I don't usually get that reaction with the rigid heddle looms. Perhaps the big floor loom was to intimidating. We only finished one banner, and it ended up that I did most of the weaving on it myself.

✔6. Make patterns for handwoven garments that I've designed:
I've made quite a few garments from handwoven clothing over the years. I don't usually make patterns. I just take the pieces of fabric and drape and fold them on my body or on a mannequin until I'm pleased with the layout. I don't yet have a plan for these patterns, but it's nice to have them. Who knows what opportunities might come up in the future.

✔7. Warp looms for classes and events that come up during the residency
It was great to have a large space to spread out and do some "direct warping". This a nice, quick and simple way to warp a rigid heddle loom. It is a bit limited though and I don't think I'd want to tackle a very long or complicated warp this way.

✔8. Make samples for mini workshops
As part of the residency I offered a series of three community workshops. I spent some time the week  before each workshop making samples.

✔9. Connect with people in the PoCo area.
This is the thing that did not go at all the way that I had planned. I had thought there there would be more people coming though the centre and that I would build a "following" of people in the PoCo area and start teaching regular classes there. That did not happen. I maybe got one or two visitors a week. Most of them were idly curious and not specifically interested in weaving. I did have a lovely chat with one fellow who came in to tell me about how he enjoyed my exhibit. He told me about a dream he had about following the old trade routes along the coast and seeing Salish weavings made of goat hair. I thought he had seen my Salish style weavings, but I had taken them down to take to another event. It was one of those odd coincidences.

 In the end, I did not build a following in PoCo, but I did make some excellent and very useful connections.

On the first day of my residency, I met one of the previous resident artists who told me that she was opening a gallery with workshop space RIGHT IN MY OWN NEIGHBOURHOOD. I've begun selling things and teaching workshops at the shop which is walking distance from my home. The funny thing is that the things that have been popular at the shop aren't even weaving related. It's all about art journalling.

I joined the Coquitlam Weavers and Spinners Guild mainly because I thought that if I was doing a weaving based residency in the neighbouring community, I should get to know some of the local weavers. As a result of this connection, I've started to teach art and weaving though Place des Arts in Coquitlam, and through Langara College in Vancouver (associated with the Greater Vancouver Weavers and Spinners Guild).

Before I started the residency, I would never have anticipated the chain of events that led to either of these connections.While, I didn't form the type of connections that I had expected, I would say that the connections that I did make have far exceeded my expectations.

Things that got added to the list
 ✔10. Work on samples and prototypes using the Salish loom
I had thought I'd spend most of my time working with my rigid heddle looms, but I hadn't anticipated that I would become intrigued with the Salish loom. I came across a Salish weaving in the little community museum that was in the building where I was based and one of the people working in the museum told me about the meaning of symbols in the weaving. The "red fish in the river" represents Coquitlam and abundance and the stylized geese stand for community and friendship.

 I was already involved with a weaving project at the Dunbar Community Centre in Vancouver with the Vancouver Art Colloquium Society (VACS) using Salish looms. I decided to do some tapestries on this style of loom that told my own stories. I even did my own "red fish in the river" weaving. This is another project that is providing unexpected opportunities. I started out as a participant in the (VACS), but the group was interested using strips of scrap fabric to weave like I did for the red fish weaving, so I was asked to become a mentor for the group which has now become the "Sustainable Weaving:" project.. We are looking at opportunities to expand the program to communities outside the city of Vancouver.

Overall, I am very pleased with the opportunities that have come my way as a result of this residency. I also felt that it was a productive way to get a lot of work done. I will be doing another, shorter, residency this November at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. I'll be using my time there to design and sew wearable art garments with my handwoven fabric - including some of the weaving I did at Leigh Square.


No comments:

Post a Comment