As this post is published on my blog I will be down at Northern Arts and Cultural Centre in Yellowknife beside the quilt. We set up yesterday and got photos of the quilt which are up on the Art of Giving website any moment now!
So let me tell you about the history of how this piece came to be. France Benoit, a Northern filmmaker, approached me last winter asking if I would be willing to participate in her “Art of Giving” event. She has been working very hard to create a wide range of short films about giving in and around Yellowknife. Some are deeply moving, some are just fun and there is an educational component in each I am sure. I have seen two of the films she has done. One was on the Foot Washing program for the homeless that a range of volunteers participate in. The second called “Farewell Touch” I saw this past winter. It is about the local Funeral Director doing the last preparations of a body before burial. My understanding that this one won’t be shown tonight but is on the National Film Board website to be viewed here. It is a beautifully done film that is in black and white. It is gentle and caring and amazing and maybe not easy. But hey who said life and death are easy. It is worth watching if you are able to.
When she approached me and told me the theme it wasn’t long into the conversation that I knew exactly what I was going to do as my theme. I have to say I was extremely unsure that I would be able to pull the idea off, but I couldn’t think of anything else that would be perfect for this event. The only parameters that I was giving is that it had to be “Black and White with one colour”.
So what was my theme? You can see it above in the quilt. I make these amazing chocolate cookies. I take them to every event that I go to. I gift them to family and friends as ingredients in Bag 1, Bag 2, ect with step by step mixing and baking instructions. They arrive unexpectedly…a gift of love. Now here is what I tell folks when they ask for the recipe, which they invariably do once they have tasted the cookies: “Come to my funeral and you can get the recipe there”. Until then it is a secret recipe! And yes I have the recipe in my funeral file so it will be easy for my family to find, copy and share!
Now lets talk about the technical parts of this quilt. As all of you know I have migrated over to painting in watercolour and in acrylic in the past year. In the last 15 months my skill development has been going gang busters. So when I decided to do this idea in a quilt I knew that it was going to be a great leap and I hoped all the skills I had learned would be helpful. Thankfully it worked out that way.
Right from the start I decided this piece would be fused. I couldn’t even conceive of piecing this complex image. I bought all the ingredients and set up the bags (which I sent off later as a surprise gift). From there I did a number of still life set ups and photographed them. I got the image printed and began the drawing. At this point I had to choose the one colour I would use. It was a relatively easy decision to make since most of the manufactures had red on their packages! Red was the colour that would be dispersed around the final piece. From there I pulled various hand-dyed fabrics both in grey and red from my stash. I cut out the large shapes and began to use a fabric ink product to layer and build the values on each package. I asked myself “Where was the deepest shadow? Where was the brightest highlight?” It became a matter of focusing in on the actual shapes that I saw verses worrying about the final product. This focus was really important when I began to do the “clear plastic” bags of the ingredients. I had to remind myself to only look at the shapes while I was inking with black, and using white for the highlights. After all fabric is not “clear” nor is it “see through”, but I had to give the illusion that it the bags in the quilt were actually “clear” and “see through”. And I am pretty pleased with how I was able to render that. The most difficult part was Bag 4 in front of the butter package. I left that until last because i was afraid of that area. Yahoo, it worked out!
Tonight I brought my cookies with me to share with the folks who purchased tickets to come to see all the films that France has done and a wide range of visual art that various Yellowknife artists created for this event! More photos will come later.
So if you made it tonight, I hope you enjoyed the cookies! As well as the films and art!