Monday, December 18, 2006

Around Toronto in November

November has come and gone, things in Toronto weren’t as exciting as one would hope but after October things just won’t be the same for a while. Meaning that the number of exhibitions mounted around the Textile Society of America Symposium was a unique moment in time and November is the build up towards the over abundance of Christmas Craft sales and group shows. It was none the less a busy month with the Toronto International Art Fair at the Toronto Convention Centre and its alternative TAAFI at the Gladstone and Drake Hotels in the “Design District” on Queen Street West. November 9th thru 12th.

Janet Morton "unentitled as of yet" branches bound in lace dollies 2006 part of Hand Mind Body at the Gladstone

A quick rundown of things I saw has to included final viewings of the Hand Mind Body at the Gladstone (look for review in the Winter 2007 issue of fibreQuarterly) and Tell it Like It Is at the MOCCA featuring three amazing “Sound Suites” by America fibre artist Nick Cave, Google him if you need to, you will find his working stunning as well as challenging. At the International Art Fair sightings of textile or fibre work was slim pickings. The only Canadian gallery having any work was Monte Clark Vancouver /Toronto which had embroideries by Anne Hunt and Montréal gallery Art Mur who represent Nadia Myre who’s “Scare Project” and “Indian Act” pieces are part of Frey at the TMC. (read my review of the show in Selvedge Issue 14) I did get to see some work by British artist Peter Clark at Rebecca Hossack Gallery who was written about in an article by Jessica Hemmings in the Summer 2006 issue of Fiberarts Magazine.

Running up escalators from the bowels of the MTC South which is three stories under the parking lot behind the CN tower and seeking sunlight I finally make it to the Gladstone and take refuge in Allyson Mitchell’s installation “Hungry Purse: The Vagina Dentata in Late Capitalism” a room draped in shag rugs, crocheted blankets and objects including a small throne like chair. In this transgender Sultan’s Tent the antitheses of a sensory depravation chamber the M.L.A. (Montecore Liberation Army) are dressed in capes and pointy “witches” hats made of patchwork denim and executing a Recruitment/ fund raising drive and providing mock tattoos, taro readings and snapping the occasional photograph all the while video taping the comings and goings of patrons in this running performance piece by Fastwürms and Jill Henderson. Allyson Mitchell and Fastwürms are represented by Paul Petro Gallery while the performance is sponsored by the MOCCA. (Click here to seeAllyson Mitchell’s Hungry purse

Down the hall in Room 212 Toronto’s Lonsdale Gallery were featuring Kate Jackson’s embroidered toy soldiers (who has been motioned before in this blog site “Summer in the city” [archive 2006_07_02] and is part of the touring show “Small Voices” and exhibition of student work from textile departments from across Canada, see below for schedule) , Vanessa Perunovich (who’s piece “Heavily Social” was also still upstairs for the last day of Hand-Body-Mind) and Trudie Cheng among others. I first saw Trudie Cheng work at the Lonsdale Gallery’s Knot Show in the summer of 2005 and am waiting for her to be given a solo show some where. Her graphic appliqué pictures are extrapolated from the “Story” or “Album” quilt tradition as well as a landscape genre yet are neither. The isolated objects floating on solid colour picture plain have a childlike appearance but speak of a darker environmental and physiological meaning. Last seen in the TMC’s ShadowBox Fundraiser a few weeks ago.

Now one of the artist whose work I was struck by in another room wasn’t textile or fibre pre-say. It was Fondant, which for those of you who don’t know is icing, yes that is what I said icing for a cake, or maybe Royal icing. Actually now that I am reading the catalogue, Fiona Kinsella works with Royal Icing, Callus, Scabs, Hat pins, hand made paper dollies, lambs wool, hair of a man and a women, glass, wood and yes fondant. That is just the one piece pictured in the catalogue. Represent by transit gallery from Hamilton there where at least half a dozen of her pieces on display in room 202. This combination of material might strike one as a bit gruesome, gross and rather sick making but they are not. These exquisite, delicately beautiful sculptures are anything but. There is a certain delight in what appears at first to be an elaborately decorated white cake that Martha Stewart would flaunt on the gullible hysterical insecure competitive impotent public she has spent decades enabling. But they are not. They are perhaps examinations of a labour intensive domestic out put that is recognized yet seldom appreciated for it genuine creative intelligence or impulse. Her works adds to the ongoing re-examination of the ordinary, the domestic, the lesser crafts (cookery perhaps) that are not meant to be non-functioning and the shift in ideologies this can cause.

At this point I wonder what the real difference between the two art fairs is. Obviously the price paid by the galleries to participate isn’t necessarily the key, but it is a factor. Attitude towards the market place as evidenced by the type of work shown may also play a factor. I spoke with a few of the dealers at the Toronto International about the lack of textile and fibre based work present at the event. It was pointed out by one of the attendants at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery that some of their artist using a textile vocabulary on paper did in fact produce textile work but not knowing if the Toronto market would take to textiles it was simply easier to bring framed paper pieces.

Websites in this Blog

Toronto International Art Fair

Monte Clark Vancouver/Toronto

Anne Hunt

Gallerie Art Mur

Nadia Myre


Peter Clark

Rebecca HOSSACK Gallery

Jessica Hemmings

Fiberarts Magazine

Toronto Alternative Art Fair International

Gladstone Hotel

Paul Petro


Lonsdale Gallery

The Knot Show

transit gallery


1 comment:

cara winsor hehir said...

i believe that some works from st. john's textile school, anna templeton centre, were shown at the art fai as well, including the one on the velvet highway homepage, alison book's, vacume. at her graduate exhibit she had a series of these bright hand embroideries. less than a year out of school, imagine where her talent will go....
nice read.