Monday, 31 January 2011

Know where I'm from, not sure where I'm going


One of our neighbourhood pubs supports the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band and ran a Burns Supper fundraiser last Saturday to help fund their trip to the North American Championships.

While I wasn't interested in any of the auction items, I was drawn by the fact that there was going to be food and that the band would be playing as well.

So although I was a few days late, I got to celebrate Robbie Burns Day in a proper fashion. As I sat by the fireplace, sipping a wee dram or two of single-malt Scotch, munching away on many crackers heaped with warm, delicious haggis (I made two trips to load up: it was from a local Scottish butcher shop), I thought about my dad, who emigrated to Canada as a child from Glasgow, and how I hadn't watched Local Hero recently. Although there were no neeps (mashed turnips) or tatties (mashed potatoes), which are the traditional accompaniments, the skirl of the pipes and the warmth of the crowd were just perfect.


And desperately needed after a week of mild borderline hysteria here at home. Much to my absolute utter amazement, I received a letter on January 19 telling me I had been awarded an Alberta Foundation for the Arts Projects Visual Arts grant to support my artist residency at Ragdale last fall. I had to read the first paragraph over and over before it sank in: at some level, it still hasn't, although I spent last week scrambling to file a report of what I did with the money before today, which was the deadline.

That being said, I don't have the cheque yet, so until I have it in hand, part of me is still mired in disbelief.

It's also totally upended the plan of what I should be pursuing next, and when I wasn't madly writing about what I did in Illinois, I was researching the next batch of opportunities. I'm looking now to expanding my horizons and checking out venues further afield for both shows and residencies.

I knew going to Ragdale would change my life: I'm just starting to realize how much.


As amorphous as some of that future is, I'm anchoring myself in a new project for 2011. Last year, I set up a Flickr set devoted to whatever art I was creating that week, and I found it useful to explore my thinking process, but I want something a little more concrete to document, so I've decided to knit a pair of socks each month.

These pictures document January's creation: the two-ply yarn I spun last January at my Art Central residency from a custom-dyed Merino/bamboo roving from Waterloo Wools I was awarded as a moderator of the 2009 Tour de Fleece on Ravelry, with toes and heels of a two-ply yarn spun of some lovely brown Corriedale sliver I had in my stash that I spun around the same time.

January socks

The February socks will come from the balls of commercial yarn I've got hidden away in my studio, but I'm not sure what colour I want yet. Guess I better have a good look at that box tomorrow....

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Déjà vu

Knitted videotape for an upcoming installation

I've always loved books, ever since I was little -- I suspect that's one reason why I eventually got into writing them, designing them, and building them. Yes, that has included knitting them too!

And although I read a lot of fiction when I was a child, I probably haven't picked up a novel for, um, awhile -- in fact, I don't think I can remember one in the last few years.

Except for The Time Traveler's Wife, which I read when I returned from Ragdale, and mostly because its author, Audrey Niffenegger, was about to take over the studio I had spent my two weeks in. (I wish I had known that before I wrote in the studio book about what a wonderful time I had, so I could have sounded a little more high-falutin'.)

Friend's Studio
The two sets of French doors on the right belong to my workspace at Ragdale.

I knew that much of the book had been written at Ragdale, when Ms. Niffenegger (I can't bring myself to refer to her as "Audrey") was there on a residency (she's now on the board of directors), and quickly came to realize that large chunks of the book were set there too, from the description of the house and meadow of Claire's youth. It was a little creepy -- though in a good way, I guess -- to know those places somewhat more intimately than I know most novel settings, and is likely what held my interest throughout.

Well, that and the fact that there are numerous other Chicago locales mentioned as well, and having just been there, it was rather fun to be able to actually think "wow, I walked along that strip of lakefront" from time to time.

This one is mentioned in the book and is in the movie as well.

While I did enjoy the scenes that were shot in Chicago -- although much of it was shot in Toronto, of all places -- my favourites were those set at the Newberry Library, where I had spent part of an afternoon the day I left Ragdale, and the papermaking ones, as I had made paper the day I arrived in Chicago, with my friend Melissa Jay Craig, whom Ms. Niffenegger thanks in her acknowledgement.

And now I've been bit by the papermaking bug too!

Once we get spring, I'll get a chance to put a number of coats of polyurethane on these, and then decide if I want to make western or Japanese paper. But until then, that phase of creativity is on hold for awhile....
Suspended animation

I wanted to get a post up during the holiday season, but it was just crazy around here. Hope everyone had a fine party, whatever celebration you chose!
My first computer

Books for Sale

The shop is currently empty.